Oklahoma (10-6, 2-2) hosts Baylor (11-6, 1-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners, who are 8-1 at home this season, are coming off a 70-53 win over Nebraska on Wednesday that improved their home record to 8-1. The Bears lost at Kansas State on Wednesday, 69-60, and are 0-3 in true road games.
Saturday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC-AM 1520 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised by ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 11 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Jimmy Dykes calling the action.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 20
Location: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Tip: 3:01 p.m. CST
TV: ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 7 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 29-5
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $10 (north and south) and $25 (east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office this week (800-456-4668). Lloyd Noble Center’s north and east ticket windows will open Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
OU students will be admitted free Saturday with the presentation of a valid school I.D.
The first 7,500 fans will receive free OU men’s basketball trading cards. An autograph session will be held on the upper concourse following the game.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, former guard Brent Price (1991-92) will be recognized at halftime.
Longar Longar will return to the court Saturday after serving a two-game suspension levied by the Big 12.
OU owns a 29-5 (.853) all-time record against Baylor and has won the last 24 meetings. The Sooners are 20-0 versus the Bears since the Big 12 was formed.
Baylor recorded the two lowest OU opponent field goal percentages last year (.292 in Waco and .265 in Norman).
The Sooners have won 39 of their last 42 home games and 87 of their last 94.
Michael Neal is 11-for-20 from 3-point range over the last three games after going 1-for-16 over the previous three.
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but leads OU with his 16.3 points and 7.5 rebounds over the team’s four conference outings.
In its 10 wins, OU is holding its foes to a .327 field goal mark. Only one of those 10 opponents has shot better than .370.
All 10 of the Sooners’ wins have been by double digits.
OU is averaging 11.8 turnovers per Big 12 game (9.5 over the past two games) after averaging 15.8 in non-league play.
BAYLOR PROJECTED STARTERS
F 23 Kevin Rogers (6-9, 235, So., 12.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
C 15 Mamadou Diene 7-0, 255, So., 5.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
G 0 Curtis Jerrells (6-1, 195, So., 12.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
G 5 Henry Dugat (6-0, 170, So., 11.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
G 14 Aaron Bruce (6-3, 190, Jr., 11.4 ppg, 4.0 apg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 12.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 10.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 9.1 ppg, 3.3 apg)
The Sooners won for the eighth time in nine home games this year when they downed Nebraska 70-53 on Wednesday night behind a season-high 20 points from Michael Neal and a season-high 19 by Nate Carter. Playing without junior center Longar Longar (the team’s leading scorer and rebounder on the season with his 12.0 and 7.1 averages) for the second straight game due to a two-game suspension by the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma’s tallest player (Taylor Griffin) stood just 6-7 but OU outrebounded the Huskers by a 37-21 count and an 11-2 margin on the offensive glass. The Sooners held Nebraska to .349 field goal shooting and only four two-point baskets.
Carter made his second start of the year on Wednesday and his 19 points were his most in an Oklahoma uniform (his previous high was 18 on Saturday at Texas). The forward was 7-for-11 from the field against Nebraska and netted 15 of his points in the second half. Carter has seen his playing time increase dramatically following the Dec. 28 season-ending knee injury to freshman Keith Clark. In four Big 12 games, Carter averages team-highs in points (16.3) and rebounds (7.5) while shooting .581 from the field in 28.5 minutes a game. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes a contest prior to league play.
Guard Tony Crocker, one of the Big 12’s top freshmen, celebrated his 20th birthday on Wednesday by posting six points, a career-high nine rebounds and two assists. On the year, Crocker ranks second on the team by scoring 10.6 points a game and also averages 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Crocker has been especially effective over the past 10 games, averaging 12.2 points (the most by an OU player during the span), 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Neal drained a season-high six 3-pointers against the Huskers and is now averaging 10.1 points, 3.1 boards and 2.1 assists per outing while shooting .833 from the free throw line. Neal, who shot .495 from 3-point range in Big 12 games last season when he was league newcomer of the year, has been held to a .289 3-point mark this season but is 11-for-20 from long distance over the past three games. Sophomore guard Austin Johnson averages 9.1 points a game and leads the team with his 3.3 assists. Johnson also leads the squad with his .386 season 3-point percentage (22-for-57). Another guard, junior David Godbold averages 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest while draining 23 treys . Godbold has come off the bench in each of the last eight games but ranks third on the team with his 27.1 minutes per outing.
Griffin, a sophomore forward who has started 15 of 16 games, contributes 7.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shot a contest. He has at least one block in each of the last 10 games and is averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals over the last two outings.
All of Taylor Griffin’s nine points, six rebounds and four assists came after halftime (he played just six minutes in the first half).
Michael Neal’s six 3-pointers were his most since draining eight against Iowa State last season (Feb. 18). The six treys represent one fourth of his current season total of 24 makes.
Nebraska center Aleks Maric was averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds entering the game but was held to eight points and four boards in 28 minutes. He managed only five field goal attempts and had five turnovers.
OU freshman walk-on Beau Gerber, who had played 22 minutes all year prior to Wednesday, was thrust into first-half action with Longar Longar suspended and Taylor Griffin on the bench with two fouls.
Baylor comes to Norman a loser of three of its last four games after starting the year 10-3. The Bears have already won more games this year than they did in any of the previous three seasons. They are 10-2 at home, 0-3 on the road and 1-1 in neutral site play. In Big 12 games, Baylor has beaten Texas Tech in Waco (73-70) and lost at Oklahoma State (81-77), at home to Texas A&M (61-51) and at Kansas State (69-60). BU is shooting .478 from the field, .357 from 3-point range and .686 from the free throw line.
Forward Kevin Rogers leads Baylor in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg) and is one of four sophomore starters. Rogers is shooting .564 from the field and .782 from the foul line. In Big 12 games he is averaging 13.0 points and 8.5 boards. Sophomore guards Curtis Jerrells and Henry Dugat average 12.0 and 11.7 points, respectively. Jerrells also averages 4.1 rebounds and a team-high-tying 4.0 assists per contest while Dugat supplies 4.5 boards and 2.3 assists. Dugat also owns a team-high .408 3-point mark. Junior guard Aaron Bruce ranks fourth on the team with his 11.4 points per outing and also hands out 4.0 assists a game. Sophomore Mamadou Diene is the team’s starting center and averages 5.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting .569 from the field.
Head coach Scott Drew is 32-59 (.352) in his fourth year at Baylor and is 52-70 (.426) overall in his fifth season.
OKLAHOMA-BAYLOR SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 29-5 series advantage against Baylor and has won the last 24 meetings. The Sooners own a 14-2 series lead in games played in Norman and have won 11 straight inside Lloyd Noble Center. The last Baylor win against OU came on Dec. 6, 1977, in Norman (75-67). OU is 20-0 against the Bears since the inception of the Big 12 Conference and has won its 10 series home games during the span by an average of 24.6 points.
Oklahoma posted a pair of large victories against Baylor last year, winning 82-52 in Waco on Jan. 25 and 80-52 in Norman on Feb. 11 in Norman. In the first meeting, Taj Gray and Terrell Everett paced five Sooners in double figures with 16 points each while Michael Neal netted 15 points off the bench on 5-for-7 3-point shooting. The game marked OU’s largest road victory margin since the 1997-98 season. Baylor shot just .292 for the game while the Sooners posted a .509 figure. Patrick Fields led the Bears with 14 points while Aaron Bruce scored 10.
In the rematch, Neal (18 points) and Taylor Griffin (12) recorded then-career highs in scoring while Kevin Bookout and Gray added 15 and 10, respectively. Everett handed out a career-high 15 assists, the most by an OU player in eight years. Curtis Jerrells (16 points) led a Baylor team that shot an OU opponent season-low .265 from the field.
KEITH CLARK OUT FOR YEAR WITH KNEE INJURY
Freshman Keith Clark sustained torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during first-half action against SMU on Dec. 28. He underwent surgery Jan. 11 and will miss the rest of the season. The 6-8, 245-pound forward from Oklahoma City came off the bench in all of his 11 games this year and averaged 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes a contest. He scored a season-high nine points against Purdue on Nov. 21 and pulled down a season-high four rebounds twice.
Ranked the No. 57 player in the 2006 national recruiting class by Rivals.com, Clark led Putnam City High School to the Class 6A state title last year by averaging 14.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists for the season.
"This is a huge blow to our team," said OU head coach Jeff Capel on Dec. 29. "First of all, it’s a big blow to Keith. He was just starting to play really well. I thought he had his best game of the year against Tulsa (Dec. 21) and played very well against SMU before he got hurt. He was making the jump to becoming a good college basketball player and I hate to see this happen to him. His injury will give other players on our team an opportunity to step up and I’m sure they’re looking forward to that challenge."
CARTER STEPS UP
Senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since Keith Clark was lost for the season. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to Big 12 play starting, is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 rebounds (both team highs) in 28.5 minutes per contest over four league outings. Clark posted 13 points and nine rebounds at Texas Tech, 15 points and eight boards versus Colorado, 18 points and six rebounds at Texas and 19 points and seven rebounds against Nebraska. He is shooting .581 from the field in Big 12 play and leads the team with his 14 offensive rebounds in those contests. Carter, who began his career at UC Riverside, was the 2003 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned second-team all-league honors as a sophomore. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.7 minutes a game last year for the Sooners.
CROCKER AMONG BIG 12’S TOP FRESHMEN
Tony Crocker is having one of the more memorable freshman campaigns in recent OU memory. The guard is the only Sooner who has started every game and owns season averages of 10.6 points (ranks second on team), 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a team-high 1.2 steals (in 26.8 minutes a game) while shooting .472 from the field and .789 from the free throw line. He ranks sixth among Big 12 freshmen in scoring.
Crocker, who is averaging 12.2 points and 5.7 rebounds over the last 10 games, is looking to become just the second true freshman since guard Tim McCalister in 1983-84 to average double figures in scoring. McCalister averaged 16.1 points that season while freshman guard Drew Lavender averaged 11.3 points in 2003-04.
LONGAR CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITY
After playing limited minutes the last two years behind All-Big 12 big men Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout, junior center Longar Longar is making the most 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 leads OU with his 12.0 points per game, 7.1 rebounds (ranks seventh in Big 12) and 1.3 blocks (ranks 11th), as well as with his .576 field goal mark (ranks fourth).
Longar turned in a 20-point, career-high 15-rebound game against SMU on Dec. 28, his third double-double of his career (all this season). He also 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. Additionally, he scored 21 points against Liberty in the second game of the season (Nov. 16).
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 already has 41 more points this year (168) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
Oklahoma ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with its +7.4 rebounding margin per game (Texas is at +7.9). The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 9-2 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-4 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 12.1 a game. OU has been outrebounded just once (last Saturday at Texas) since the fourth game of the season (Nov. 21 versus Purdue).
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 39 of the last 42 games and 87 of the last 94 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 406-66 (.860) in the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners have posted home winning streaks of 51 games (1987-90) and 37 games (2001-03). The 37-game streak is a Big 12 Conference record.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following are some notes about Oklahoma through nine games of play at Lloyd Noble Center this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 49.1 points a contest (five foes have scored less than 50 points). It is outscoring its opponents 73.0 to 49.1 at Lloyd Noble Center (a margin of 23.9 points a game).
The Sooners are shooting .496 at home while opponents have shot .344.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 38.9 to 28.1 count (+10.8).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting .620 from the field.
Six of Tony Crocker’s eight double-digit scoring games have come at Lloyd Noble (he also has a nine-point game in the building). He is averaging 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists at home while shooting .519 from the field. He scored 15 points against Norfolk State, 18 versus Liberty, 19 against Villanova, 18 versus UT Arlington, 14 against SMU and 16 vs. Colorado.
Austin Johnson is shooting .486 from 3-point range (17-for-35).
Opponents have racked up 159 turnovers (17.7 average) to just 80 assists (8.9 assists).
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its 10 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 12.1 a game. In its six losses it is getting outboarded by 0.5.
OU is shooting .490 from the field in its wins but only .399 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .327 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .472 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.2 (158 assists and 134 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.5 (68 and 102).
Longar Longar is averaging 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 6.4 points and 5.2 boards in their defeats.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (57.2 ppg) and rebounding margin (+7.4), third in field goal percentage defense (.382) and fifth in blocked shots (4.6 bpg).
Longar Longar ranks fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (.576), seventh in rebounding (7.0), fifth in offensive rebounding (3.0) and 11th in blocked shots (1.3).
Taylor Griffin ranks 11th in rebounding with his 6.7 boards a game and ranks ninth with his 4.6 defensive boards a contest.
Austin Johnson’s 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks third in the conference.
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 1,439-915 (.611) all-time record and a 406-66 (.860) 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).
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.
NINE STRAIGHT 20-WIN CAMPAIGNS
The Sooners boast a streak of nine straight 20-win seasons dating back to the 1997-98 campaign. OU and Kansas are the only Big 12 schools who have won at least 20 games each of the last nine seasons. Oklahoma State has eight 20-win seasons in the last nine years while Texas is next with seven.