OU vs. Utah State in the Myrtle Beach Invitational: Preview, thread & how to watch

Syndication: The Oklahoman
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Sooners look to take the crown in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, but they’ll have to stop Oklahoma native Justin Bean in the process.

After an impressive performance against the Indiana State Sycamores, the Oklahoma Sooners look to go for a sweep of the Myrtle Beach Invitational as they face the Utah State Aggies in the championship game.

Oklahoma (4-0) vs. Utah State (3-1): Sunday, 2 p.m. CT at The HTC Center (Conway, S.C.)

TV: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Commentary: Dane Bradshaw and Kevin Fitzgerald

Radio: Sooner Sports Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM The Franchise in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Varsity Radio App) with Chad McKee and Kevin Henry announcing

Line: Oklahoma -4.5 (as of 11:30 a.m. CT Sunday)


About Utah State

  • The Aggies are led by Moore, Okla. native Justin Bean, who is averaging 24 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. The 6’7” forward has broken out as a senior, connecting on 64.9 percent of his field goal attempts and 53.8 percent of this three-point attempts through four games.
  • Utah State is 3-1 in the season, with its lone loss coming to UC Davis by a score of 72-69 in its season opener. After picking up an 85-74 win over Richmond, the Aggies have opened the Myrtle Beach Invitational with wins over Penn (87-79, 2OT) and New Mexico State (85-58).
  • The Aggies are led by first-year head coach Ryan Odom, who previously led the program at UMBC. As you might recall, Odom’s Retrievers pulled off the first and only 16 vs. 1 upset in NCAA Tournament history when they topped the Virginia Cavaliers in 2018.
  • USU made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2019 and 2021. However, they have essentially fielded three consecutive tournament teams entering this season, as the 2020 Aggies were champions of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Those teams were led by Craig Smith, who is now in his first season as the head coach of the Utah Utes.

Three Things

  • Groves standing out – Porter Moser aka Portal Moser’s biggest offseason win came in the form of securing Eastern Washington transfer Tanner Groves, who opened the 2021-22 season by being honored as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. After a so-so performance against East Carolina, he regained his stride in a big way against Indiana State, scoring 24 on 10-15 shooting while adding eight rebounds. OU hasn’t had a post presence like Groves in years, and his ability to stretch the floor makes it exponentially easier for OU’s guards to attack the bucket.
  • Sloppy starts – In the first halves of the first two games of the tournament, Oklahoma turned it over 10 times against East Carolina and 9 times against Indiana State. The Sooners have been able to separate from their opponents whenever they’ve taken care of the ball, so a smooth start should equal a fast start for OU.
  • A perimeter alpha? – Late in the game against East Carolina, Oklahoma sorely needed one of Jordan Goldwire, Elijah Harkless or Umoja Gibson to step up and seize the moment of Groves had fouled out. While the Sooners did indeed survive with great defense, OU didn’t really find that guy in that situation. This is a team with a lot of new faces, it’s not particularly odd that this role hasn’t been defined, but it’s something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Prediction

Oklahoma 81, Utah State 72