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February 12, 2013

Hield's injury doesn't spell end for Oklahoma

SoonerScoop.com basketball beat writer RJ Young breaksdown what's next for Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4) as they move forward without freshmen Buddy Hield

Freshman guard Buddy Hield's fractured right foot isn't the world ending for Oklahoma. It's an opportunity show mettle, savvy and maturity.

Consider after No. 14 Kansas' win against No. 10 Kansas State, OU will be one game back of first place in the Big12. Consider also that five of the Sooners' remaining seven games are against Big 12 teams in the bottom half of the conference standings, and you'll see the deck is decidedly stacked in the Sooners' favor.

HD: Sooners route TCU, 75-48

Hield walked into the Sooners' game against Texas Christian as the fourth-best scorer on the team with 8.6 points per game. The loss of Hield for the foreseeable future means Oklahoma will have to rely on its depth in games where its starters weren't able to carry or sustain the scoring load, and the Sooners will have to lean on their bench now more than ever for offensive production.

Where OU will miss Hield most is on the defensive end of the court.

He is far and away the Sooners' best defender and was responsible for holding Kansas freshman Ben McLemore to 15 points in Oklahoma's 72-66 win against Kansas last Saturday.

He often draws the opposing team's best perimeter player. With his active hands and great energy, he leads Oklahoma in steals with 1.3 per game.

The injury to his foot means freshman Je'lon Hornbeak will likely see more time on wing with senior guard Steven Pledger. Expect to see more of Isaiah Cousins and Sam Grooms at point guard, and Cameron Clark to play more on the wings as well.

Clark will probably be the most important player on the court for OU in the coming seven games. He came up big against Kansas with 10 points in the Sooners' win and has proven to be solid off the bench along with Andrew Fitzgerald. Tyler Neal also showed he still has a shooter's touch against TCU.

The loss of Hield will hurt, but the Sooners are deep enough to make up for his absence.

UP NEXT:

Oklahoma heads to Stillwater Saturday for Bedlam showdown against Oklahoma State. Oklahoma won the first meeting this season in Norman, 77-68. Tip off is set for 12:30 p.m..



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