Oklahoma (15-13 overall, 6-9 league) closes out its first regular season under head coach Jeff Capel when it plays at Kansas State (20-10, 9-6) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST. The Sooners, who have lost five straight games, are coming off a 67-65 home loss to No. 3 Kansas on Monday. Kansas State, which has lost four of its last seven after a 7-2 Big 12 start, lost 84-70 at Oklahoma State on Tuesday.
Saturday’s matchup will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC-AM 1520 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing. It will be regionally televised by ABC with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla calling the action.
Date: Saturday, March 3
Location: Manhattan, Kan. (Bramlage Coliseum)
Tip: 2:38 p.m. CST
TV: ABC (regional)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 101-87
OU owns a 101-87 all-time record against Kansas State and has won three straight in Manhattan (by a combined four points).
The Sooners are holding opponents to a .398 field goal mark on the year to rank in the top 20 nationally. The last time OU allowed foes to shoot less than .398 for an entire season was in 1960-61.
OU is shooting .782 from the free throw line over its last 10 Big 12 outings (133-for-170).
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but is averaging 16.7 points and 7.1 rebounds over the team’s 15 conference outings.
OU is 6-9 in Big 12 games but has outscored its opponents by 37 points in league play. Its +2.5 scoring margin is better than that of 9-6 Kansas State (+1.6).
Oklahoma has pulled down 51 offensive rebounds over the last two games but has managed just 36 second-chance points.
The Sooners have been outrebounded just eight times on the season (four times in the last five games).
In its 15 wins, OU is holding foes to a .345 field goal mark. Twelve of those 15 opponents have failed to shoot .400.
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
G 3 Bobby Maze (6-3, 175, Fr., 5.8 ppg, 2.1 apg)
G 15 David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 7.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
KANSAS STATE PROJECTED STARTERS
F 15 David Hoskins (6-5, 225, Jr., 14.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
F 50 Luis Colon (6-10, 260, Fr., 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
G 3 Lance Harris (6-5, 190, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
G 5 Clent Stewart (6-4, 195, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 2.7 apg)
G 34 Akeem Wright (6-6, 190, Sr., 6.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
After winning four straight games to move to 6-4 in the Big 12, the Sooners have lost five consecutive contests and stand in a tie with Iowa State for eighth place in the league race (a half game behind Oklahoma State). Oklahoma dropped its third home game in a row on Monday (all to ranked teams), losing 67-65 to No. 3 Kansas after rallying from a 17-point deficit to tie the game at 51 with 6:12 remaining. The Jayhawks shot 16 free throws in the final 5:28 and made 12 of them to win their seventh straight. OU almost pulled the upset despite shooting a season-low .333 from the field, getting outrebounded 41-36 and surrendering 34 free throw attempts (32 in the second half). It held Kansas to just one 3-pointer on the night and forced 16 turnovers.
Junior center Longar Longar was held to single-digits in points Monday for the fourth straight game after registering double-doubles in three of the previous four outings (he averaged 16.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over those four games). OU’s second-leading scorer (11.0 ppg) and leading rebounder (7.3 rpg) on the season, Longar had six points and four boards against Kansas. The junior center, who is shooting .566 from the field on the season, is averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in OU’s wins but just 6.7 points and 6.0 boards in the team’s losses. He is averaging 4.8 points and 5.3 rebounds over the last four outings.
Michael Neal, last year’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, hit three second-half treys versus Kansas and finished with nine points, three assists and three steals. The senior guard, who netted 18 points with the help of four 3-pointers against Missouri Feb. 20, ranks third on the team in scoring with his 10.2 points per game and also supplies 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting .310 from beyond the arc. In Big 12 games, he ranks sixth in the league in 3-point makes per contest (2.3).
David Godbold, a junior guard who averages 7.4 points, ranks second behind Neal with his 42 treys this season. He has eight games with at least three makes on the year. Over the last four games (three starts), Godbold is averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.5 steals while going 11-for-25 from beyond the arc. Included was a career-high 20-point game against Texas A&M Feb. 17 in which he was 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Freshman guard Bobby Maze has provided a spark the last several contests. Maze recorded 12 points, four rebounds and three assists at Baylor Feb. 10 and followed with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting at Iowa State. Over the last three games (against Missouri, Texas and Kansas), he is averaging 7.0 points and 2.7 assists. He is averaging 5.8 points and 2.1 assists on the year.
Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin made his first start Monday in more than a month and responded with 12 points (his most in 13 games), seven rebounds and a career-high-tying three blocked shots. He also tied career highs with six free throw makes and seven attempts. On the season, Griffin is averaging 6.5 points and ranks second on the team with his 5.3 rebounds a game. He also averages 1.0 block.
Kansas’ 67 points were 12 below its season average.
The Sooners scored five points in the span of one second in the second half. After Taylor Griffin made two free throws and Kansas was called for a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds play, Michael Neal canned a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to knot the score at 51-51.
OU’s 46 second-half points tied as its most in a half since scoring 54 in the first period of the season opener against Norfolk State.
Thirteen fouls were called in the first 5:20 of the second half, matching the total number called in the first half.
Oklahoma shot .419 from the field in the second half after shooting .241 in the first 20 minutes.
Kansas had won its previous six games by an average of 28.8 points.
KANSAS STATE UPDATE
Kansas State heads into weekend action trying to nail down a first-round Big 12 Championship bye. The Wildcats are alone in fourth place with a 9-6 league record, one game ahead of fifth-place Texas Tech (the Red Raiders hold the tie-breaker). They are 12-2 at home (5-2 in conference play). In Big 12 games, K-State is shooting .412 from the field (ranks ninth in the conference), .355 from 3-point range (ranks fifth) and .743 from the free throw line (ranks second). It ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.297).
The Wildcats are led in scoring this year by senior Cartier Martin’s 16.5 points a game (17.1 in league contests). Martin, who has started in just 13 games this year, including once in conference play, has made a team-high 59 3-pointers (2.0 average) and is shooting .383 from behind the arc and .809 from the free throw line. He netted 25 points in 26 minutes Tuesday at Oklahoma State as he went 12-for-13 at the charity stripe. Junior forward David Hoskins is averaging 14.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists a contest. He has attempted 200 free throws on the season (6.7 per outing) and has made 154 for a .770 mark. Senior guard Lance Harris supplies 10.5 points and 3.4 boards a game and has made 51 treys (1.7 average). Junior guard Clent Stewart and senior guard Akeem Wright average 6.5 and 6.4 points, respectively. Wright also paces the team with his 6.1 rebounds a contest.
First-year Kansas State head coach Bob Huggins is 587-209 (.776) in his 25th year overall.
OKLAHOMA-KANSAS STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 101-87 all-time series lead against Kansas State but trails in games played in Manhattan, 53-34. The Sooners, who are 9-2 versus the Wildcats since the inception of the Big 12 (3-2 in Manhattan), have won eight straight in the series and the last three inside Bramlage Coliseum. OU’s last three wins in Manhattan have come by a total of four points (two games went to overtime). The Sooners escaped with a 69-68 victory two seasons ago when Drew Lavender hit a running, left-handed six-footer off the glass as time expired.
LAST YEAR VERSUS THE WILDCATS
In a game that Kansas State led for the majority of the second half (its largest lead was seven with 8:20 remaining), Taj Gray made a basket with 1:16 left to give Oklahoma a 71-70 win in Norman. The Sooners had to endure a flurry of activity on K-State’s end of the floor in the closing seconds, including two missed shots by the Wildcats, in posting their third of four straight one-point victories. Gray finished with 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting while Terrell Everett notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. Michael Neal canned three treys on nine attempts and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line en route to 15 points. Cartier Martin was 10-for-14 from the field for Kansas State and netted 26 points while David Hoskins added 17. Akeem Wright scored nine and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds (four offensive). The Wildcats posted a 31-27 rebounding advantage and were one of just five teams last year to outboard the Sooners.
Seniors Michael Neal and Kellen Sampson and sophomores Taylor Griffin and Austin Johnson comprised nearly one-fifth of the 22-member Academic All-Big 12 Team that was announced Thursday. Neal and Sampson were first-team selections while Griffin and Johnson were second-team honorees. Sampson graduated in December with a degree in communication, Neal is majoring in African and African-American studies and Griffin is majoring in zoology/pre-med. Johnson is undecided on his major. OU claimed two of the nine first-team spots and was the only school with multiple first-team selections.
SNEAKING A PEAK AT THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time, this year’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship will be held in Oklahoma City. The event, which will be played March 8-11 inside the downtown Ford Center, will be the 11th postseason championship in the league’s history. Oklahoma has won three of the 10 tournament titles (2001, 2002, 2003) with only Kansas winning more (four). The Sooners’ 17-7 record (.708) in the event is second only to the Jayhawks’ 19-6 mark (.760). OU also claimed Big Eight Tournament titles in 1979, 1985, 1988 and 1990.
This year’s tournament will feature four first-round games on Thursday (11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.), four quarterfinals games on Friday (same times as Thursday), two Saturday semifinals games (1 and 3:20 p.m.) and Sunday’s 2 p.m. title game.
In terms of seeding, the Sooners can finish anywhere between seventh and 10th for this year’s championship.
CARTER STEPS UP
In what has to be one of the most remarkable in-season turnarounds in college basketball this year, senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since the start of Big 12 play. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to conference action, is averaging 16.7 points and 7.1 boards in 30 minutes per contest over 15 league outings. He is shooting .488 from the field and .875 from the free throw line (84-for-96) while leading the team with 46 offensive rebounds in conference play. Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 265 over the last 16.
Carter in Big 12 Play
at Texas Tech
at Oklahoma State
at Texas A&M
at Iowa State
Carter in Big 12 Play
MORE ON CARTER
Prior to OU’s game at Texas on Jan. 13, the most points Carter scored in an OU uniform was 16 last year against Oral Roberts. He has surpassed that total in nine of the last 13 league contests.
Carter (16.7 ppg and 7.1 rpg) is one of four players who average at least 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in Big 12 play. Texas’ Kevin Durant (28.7 points and 12.7 boards), Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan (18.4 and 8.4) and Nebraska’s Aleks Maric (18.8 and 9.0) are the others.
Carter had his school-record string of 37 consecutive free throw makes broken against Longwood Jan. 30. He made 39 straight free throw attempts in conference play before a second-half miss against Texas Tech Feb. 3.
In Big 12 play, Carter ranks first in the league in free throw percentage (.875), fourth in offensive rebounding (3.1 per game), fifth in field goal percentage (.488), seventh in scoring (16.7 ppg) and 11th in rebounding (7.1 rpg).
Carter leads the Big 12 in free throw shooting in all games (.856) and in conference games (.875).
Including his freshman and sophomore seasons at UC Riverside, Carter has tallied 1,301 career points.
OPPORTUNITY, SUCCESS GO HAND IN HAND FOR LONGAR
After playing limited minutes the last two years behind All-Big 12 big men Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout, junior center Longar Longar is taking advantage of his opportunity this year. The 6-11, 228-pounder averaged 2.9 points in 7.9 minutes a game as a freshman and 2.1 points in 7.2 minutes a contest last year. This season, Longar averages 11.0 points per game and team highs of 7.3 rebounds (ranks seventh in Big 12), 1.4 blocks (ranks eighth) and a .566 field goal mark (would tie for the league lead but he is 10 makes shy of qualifying in the category).
Longar registered his sixth career double-double (all this year) and third in a four-game span when he scored 20 points (all in the second half) and grabbed 12 rebounds at Iowa State Feb. 13. The performance came on the heels of a 12-point, 12-rebound effort at Baylor Feb. 10 and three games after he had 19 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Texas Tech Feb. 3. Longar also turned in a 20-point, career-high 15-rebound game against SMU on Dec. 28 to earn Big 12 Co-Player of the Week honors. Additionally, Longar recorded a 24-point, 14-rebound performance against Chaminade in the third round of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Nov. 22, and a 15-point, 11-rebound game against Coppin State on Dec. 9.
Longar, who was born in Sudan and also lived in Egypt before coming to the United States, attended high school in Rochester, Minn., and one year of prep school in Laurinburg, N.C. He has more than twice as many points this year (286) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 58.9 points per game and .398 combined field goal percentage. The last time OU gave up less than 58.9 points per contest for an entire season was in 1977-78 (58.2 ppg). The last time Oklahoma opponents shot worse than .398 for a season was in 1960-61 (.377) a span of 46 years.
No opponent has scored more than 80 points against OU this year and Texas is the only foe to shoot .500 or better from the field (.547 on Jan. 13 in Austin). The Sooners have held 12 of their opponents under .400 shooting.
FINE AT THE LINE
After shooting .670 from the free throw line in non-conference games, the Sooners are shooting .741 from the charity stripe in Big 12 action to rank second in the league. They own a .782 free throw mark (133-for-170) over their last 10 league outings.
Oklahoma ranks third in the Big 12 Conference with its +5.0 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just eight times in 28 contests this season (four times in the last five games, however). The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 13-4 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-9 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 10.2 a game.
PROTECTING THE BALL
After averaging 15.8 turnovers a game prior to conference play, the Sooners have done a much better job of taking care of the basketball in their Big 12 games. OU is averaging just 12.3 turnovers per conference outing to rank third in the Big 12. The Sooners are 10-3 this year when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
In its 15 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 10.2 a game. In its 12 losses it is getting outboarded by 0.9.
OU is shooting .493 from the field in its wins but only .378 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .345 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .463 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.2 (235 assists and 194 turnovers). The ratio in losses is 0.8 (153 and 191).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 6.7 points and 6.0 boards in their defeats.
NATION’S LONGEST POSTSEASON STREAK
Oklahoma made its 25th consecutive postseason appearance last year (20 NCAA and five NIT), good for the longest current streak among Division I programs. The last time OU did not compete in the postseason was in 1980-81. The Sooners have competed in the NCAA Tournament 11 times in the last 12 seasons.
The 2006-07 season marks the 100th year of varsity basketball at Oklahoma. The Sooners began playing the sport during the 1907-08 season under head coach D.C. Hall (it was his lone year as OU’s mentor). Their first game was a 32-12 win over Epworth College on Nov. 26, 1907, at Convention Hall in Oklahoma City. OU posted a 4-3 record that year with a two-game sweep of Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State).
The Sooners now own a 1,444-922 (.610) all-time record and a 410-69 (.856) mark at Lloyd Noble Center. They have participated in 24 NCAA Tournaments, four Final Fours (1939, 1947, 1988 and 2002) and two national title games (1947 and 1988). OU has won or shared 13 conference championships (the most recent was in 2005) and has claimed seven league tournament titles (the most recent was in 2003).