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How Transition Defense Will Play a Role Against Sooners

The Sooners transition offense could be a big problem for the Cowboys in the upcoming Bedlam match-up.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners were down 67 – 56 to TCU on Saturday with just over 10 minutes left to play. OU then went on a run and were able to tie the game with about two and a half minutes left, and eventually pulled out an impressive victory on the road. How were they able to do this? Well, there were some key 3’s, some solid passes out of the half court from Trae Young and most notably… transition offense.

The Sooners have relied on fast break scoring a lot this season. According to hoop-math.com, they are 5th in the country in percentage of shots in transition at 33.1 percent. Their effective field goal percentage on these shots is 66.9 percent, good for 16th in the nation.

Here are their compete offensive transition splits (via hoop-math.com):

*The data in this table relates to the initial shot attempts of possessions. Transition shots are defined as occurring within the first 10 seconds of a possession after a steal, defensive rebound, or opponent score.

As you can see, they are very efficient in every type of shot they take in transition. 69.7 percent at the rim, 56.5 percent on 2-point jumpers and 43.4 percent from distance. Those are all extremely impressive percentages and show you just how dangerous the Sooners are on the break.

The primary reasons that OU has been so good in transition are the court vision and outlet passing ability of their phenom freshman point guard Trae Young. Young is so talented at making one pass that leads to a bucket on the break. Here are two example of this against TCU. One that led to a foul at the rim and the other that led to a wide open layup.

Here’s the foul at the rim:

and here’s the layup:

He’s very Kevin Love-esque in this aspect, which is a huge compliment as Love is one of the best transition passers I’ve ever seen. And I think Lebron James would agree.

As you can see in the first video, Young doesn’t need to be the rebounder (which he sometimes is averaging 3.5 rpg this season) to lead the break because his teammates are exceptional at quickly finding the young point guard after a rebound or turnover.

The Sooners also find a great deal of success on the fast break when Young takes it himself:

Whether it’s Kendall Smith, Brandon Averette or Tavarius Shine (who I suspect may see some time guarding Young), they will have to pick him up early and can’t let him get a full head of steam on his way to the hoop.

The last transition aspect I wanted to point out is 3-point shooting. Kameron McGusty has shown great ability to get to a spot behind the arc in transition, and especially against TCU, he knocked them down. The Cowboy defenders will have to pick up a man on their way down the court. You can’t allow easy open looks for the Sooners because they will knock them down. You can see an example of what I’m referring to in the video below:

Now when it comes to transisition defense for the Cowboys this season, they haven’t been great. They currently rank 176th in percentage of transition shots allowed and 120th in effective field goal percentage allowed on those shots according to hoop-math.com. There are many things defensively that the Pokes will need to focus on when they take on this talented OU team, but I believe transition defense should be towards the top of their priority list. Oklahoma State has been suspect at times this season in this part of the game, but from what I’ve seen out of Coach Boynton this season, I know he will have his guys ready to play come Wednesday.