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Sooners look for second straight road win against UCF

Feb. 2—It's been another chaotic season in the Big 12 Conference.

Heading into February, No. 23 Oklahoma is 4-4 and tied for seventh in the conference in winning percentage. Still, the Sooners remain within striking distance of both the top and the bottom of the conference standings.

Oklahoma State (1-7) is the only Big 12 team with fewer than three conference wins and first-place Houston only has a two-win advantage over the Sooners and the rest of the middle of the pack.

The average margin of victory in the Big 12 this season has been just 9.6 (fewest among the major conferences)) and 44% of games have been decided by five points or fewer.

The Sooners are a No. 6 seed according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology prediction. They'll take on UCF on the road on Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN+.

Lunardi currently has nine Big 12 teams making the NCAA Tournament, which is the most of any conference. The SEC isn't far behind with eight.

As a six-seed, Oklahoma would be in the Memphis region and face either Boise State or Colorado in the first round. Kansas State, Cincinnati, UCF, West Virginia and Oklahoma State are projected to miss out.

This will be Oklahoma's second ever trip to play in Orlando at Addition Financial Arena. The Sooners are 2-0 all-time against the Knights, winning at home in 2019 and on the road in 2021.

Playing in the Big 12 for its first season, it didn't take long for UCF to make an impression on the conference. In its first Big 12 home game, the Knights knocked off a then-third-ranked Kansas team, 65-60.

They enter Saturday's game 2-2 at home during conference play and 9-4 this season. Their defense is ranked 35th nationally in points allowed per game (65.1) and has held five of eight conference opponents under 70 points.

No Big 12 team has put up more than 77 points on the Knights this season and Kansas, BYU, Houston and West Virginia were held to fewer than 60 points.

Still, the Knights are 1-4 overall against ranked teams this season and have lost 11 of their last 12 dating back to 2020.

The Sooners have been near the middle of the pack in the conference in field goal shooting percentage (44%) since the start of conference play, but are in the top 40 nationally in: scoring defense (65.9 points per game, 31st nationally), opponent field goal percentage (40.4%, 40th nationally), opponent 3-point percentage (28.1%, eighth nationally) and rebounding margin (plus-6.0, 35th nationally).

The Knights are currently ranked 75th in the NET rankings, which would gives the Sooners another opportunity to earn a Quad 1 win on Saturday.

The Sooners are currently 3-4 against Quad 1 opponents and 3-1 against Quad 2.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com