Utah State Vs. Oklahoma Preview in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship.

Utah State Vs. Oklahoma Preview in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship.

Mountain West Basketball

Utah State Vs. Oklahoma Preview in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship.

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Can Utah State add a quality victory?

Matchup: Utah State Vs. Oklahoma 

Time: 3 PM EST

TV: ESPN2

Utah State got otherwordly hot in the rout of New Mexico State. The Aggies led by 40 points when the starters got the remainder of the ballgame off, eventually winning by 28. Utah State went 14-29 from deep, and Rylan Jones hit five of those 14, also pacing all scorers with 19 points and looking ahead to the CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! It’s not the National Championship, but it’s the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship. 

The Oklahoma Sooners from the BIG-12 defeated East Carolina and Indiana State en route to the title game. What do the Sooners look like in the first year of Porter Moser’s coaching tenure?

Oklahoma key players:

Tanner Groves: The forward from Spokane made his name during the NCAA Tournament for Eastern Washington, scoring a tournament-high 35 points against Kansas. Groves provides the Sooners with a go-to scoring option but could struggle defensively, likely matching up against the agile Brandon Horvath of Utah State. Yesterday, New Mexico State’s offensive focal points were in the backcourt — today, Oklahoma’s focal point plays in the frontcourt.

Umoja Gibson: The former North Texas standout is the top guard option for the Sooners offensively. Gibson’s knocked down nearly 40 percent of his career three-pointers between five seasons at North Texas and Oklahoma. 

Jalen Hill: The 6-foot-6 forward provides Porter Moser with an outstanding defender capable of defending guards on the perimeter. Against Utah State, he’ll defend Justin Bean, who’s been unbeliveably good in the first few weeks of his senior season. Hill won’t light up the scoring column but is very impactful.

Horvath, Bean, and Jones form an experienced and talented starting core, the Aggies trio of top players. Jones showed aggressiveness scoring-wise the past two games — a welcomed sight as Jones can score but has shown too much assertiveness as times throughout his career. Can Utah State continue their streak of 80+ points? It’s on three consecutive games. 

The first official NCAA Net Rankings aren’t out yet, but adding a potential Neutral site Quadrant 1/2 victory would be massive to a potential NCAA Tournament bid. Losing to UC Davis in the opener leaves a blemish on the Aggies NCAA Tournament resume, but it’s about avoiding any more bad losses and stacking up wins. Utah State has opportunities to stack up against quality wins against BYU, Saint Mary’s, and Iowa in December. 

Prediction:

Utah State 73, Oklahoma 67

I’m picking Utah State because they’re clicking right now. Coming off an easy victory against a loaded New Mexico State carries momentum into the next game. The starters didn’t have to exert energy late in the game as the deficit was already 25 points at halftime. 


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