Oklahoma will be without two key weapons entering Tuesday’s Big 12 home game against TCU.
Brady Manek and Jalen Hill will not be available for the 6:30 p.m. contest, OU coach Lon Kruger said during a Monday Zoom call with reporters. The players also missed Saturday’s game at Kansas.
“They’re under the COVID protocol and will be there for this ballgame for sure,” Kruger said. “The other guys have to step up and do the things to pick up slack.”
It’s not the only physical aspect that the players will miss when they are absent against the Horned Frogs. There’s also concern about the mental part of losing games.
“Missing a game is huge to a ball player. You know, people say, well, it’s just one game or two games, but every game is precious, every opportunity to play is huge,” Kruger said. “So it bothers them a lot. So, yeah, you’re concerned about how they are going through the isolation period, which is tough on everyone.
“And then also when they do get back, getting back into the rhythm, back into the flow as quickly as possible. So, yeah, that’s a concern, and everyone in the country has for any players that miss games.“
The Sooners (6-4 overall, 2-3 Big 12) had to play with four guards during a close 63-59 loss to the Jayhawks. It’s an adjustment that will carry over into Tuesday’s contest.
Something that developed in the new look was Kur Kuath displaying some outside range. The 6-10 post player made his first career 3-pointer and brought KU’s bigger defenders away from the paint.
Kuath looks to improve his shooting during the off-season.
“I’ve been working on the 3-point shot pretty consistently just knowing that people aren’t going to respect me as much as they respect our other shooters, it just makes it easier for our team because the big isn’t laid so far back by me hitting threes,” Kuath said.
“You’re going to have to respect guarding me. It basically clears up the paint and opens lanes for everybody.”
Added Kruger: “I love what Kur’s doing right now, not just the shooting from outside but every aspect – defensive awareness, guarding ball screens, communication defensively, handling the ball offensively, knocking down some jumpers. I think he’ll keep doing that. He’ll expand his game with confidence. He’ll keep shooting that outside jumper. I think he has the potential to do that.”
TCU (9-4, 2-3) is coming off back-to-back home losses against Kansas and Baylor, the same two schools that Oklahoma played on the road last week.
The Sooners defeated the Horned Frogs 82-78 in Fort Worth on Dec. 6. Will that familiarity with TCU help on Tuesday night?
“You always get something from the first game when you play a conference opponent for the second time. And yet, that was our second game of the year,” Kruger said. “We had just one prior game and we’re hopefully a lot improved at this point, as I’m sure TCU is. So you take certain things away. But still, yeah, we’re a different club right now. TCU is a different club, both doing some things similar but other things differently as well.”