Winner of three straight, Oklahoma (7-3) hosts an SMU squad (9-1) that has won in its last seven contests on Thursday at 7 p.m. CST at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners are coming off a 58-48 victory over Tulsa last Thursday in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City. The Mustangs posted a 64-62 win at TCU the same evening.
Thursday’s contest 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 televised on the Sooner Sports Network (Cox Cable 7 in OKC; Cox Cable 3 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour calling the action. The contest will also be available for viewing on ESPN Full Court. Additionally, an Internet webcast on SoonerSports.com will be available (an O-Zone subscription is required).
Date: Thursday, Dec. 28
Tip: 7:08 p.m. CST
TV: Sooner Sports Network
Stations: Cox 7 (OKC); Cox 3 (Tulsa); ESPN Full Court
Radio: Sooner Radio Network
Flagship: KOKC 1520 AM (OKC)
Webcast: O-Zone on SoonerSports.com
Series: OU leads 34-14
Oklahoma is holding its opponents to 54.9 points a game, second fewest among Big 12 teams (Texas A&M is giving up 54.0). In its seven wins, OU is holding its foes to a .318 field goal mark. None of those seven opponents has shot better than .370.
Junior center Longar Longar already has more points through 10 games this year (133) than he scored in 50 games over his first two seasons combined (127).
OU is 7-0 this year when it has outrebounded its opponents and 0-3 when it hasn’t.
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $15 (north and south) and $20 (east and west) on SoonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center’s north and east ticket windows will open Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, former Sooners forward and 1979 Big Eight Player of the Year John McCullough will be recognized at halftime.
SMU PROJECTED STARTERS
F 2 Devon Pearson (6-6, 235, Sr., 10.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
F 10 Ike Ofoegbu (6-8, 225, Sr., 14.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
C 25 Donatas Rackauskas (6-11, 245, Sr., 9.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg)
G 12 Jon Killen (6-4, 195, Jr., 6.6 ppg, 5.9 apg)
G 15 Derrick Roberts (6-4, 198, Jr., 10.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 13.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 11.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 10.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 10.9 ppg, 3.9 apg)
The Sooners, who notched their fifth victory in their last six games with a 58-48 win over Tulsa in the O’Reilly All-College Classic last Thursday in Oklahoma City, return home to Lloyd Noble Center against SMU on Thursday. OU has won 36 of its last 39 home games and is 5-1 in Norman this year.
Guards Michael Neal (11 points), Austin Johnson (11) and Tony Crocker (10) combined for 32 (more than half) of OU’s points against Tulsa and are all averaging double figures in scoring on the season. Neal averages 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting a Big 12-best .893 from the free throw line. The senior is averaging 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists over the last three outings. Johnson, a sophomore, contributes 10.9 points and a team-high 3.9 assists a game while shooting a team-high .395 from 3-point range. Against Tulsa, he added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Crocker, a freshman, supplies 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest (14.0, 4.8 and 3.0 over the last four games, respectively).
Junior center Longar Longar endured his worst shooting game of the season against Tulsa (4-for-12) and finished with nine points and five rebounds. The game marked his lowest scoring and rebounding totals since Nov. 20 against Memphis. Longar still leads the team
in scoring (13.3 ppg), blocked shots (1.7 bpg) and field goal percentage (.602) while also ranking second in rebounding (7.0). Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin, contributed eight points, a game-high eight rebounds and three blocks against the Golden Hurricane, one game after registering career highs with his 13 boards and seven assists. Griffin averages 7.1 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game on the year.
Oklahoma is outscoring its opponents by 15.7 points a game on the season (70.6 to 54.9) and boasts a +8.4 rebounding advantage per contest (38.4 to 30.0), best in the Big 12 Conference. OU is 7-0 this year when outrebounding its opponents.
Oklahoma’s 10 blocked shots were a season high. Taylor Griffin, Austin Johnson and Longar Longar each had three rejections.
OU held Tulsa to .280 field goal shooting, the Golden Hurricane’s lowest mark under second-year head coach Doug Wojcik. TU entered the game with a .477 season mark.
Michael Neal entered the contest with 41 free throw makes in his last 42 attempts going back to last year (he was 21-for-22 this season), but finished the day 4-for-6.
OU improved to 50-12 all-time in the All-College Classic and has won 13 of its last 14 games in the event.
The Sooners upped their all-time mark against Tulsa to 26-11 and have won 10 of the last 11 in the series.
SMU comes to Norman riding a seven-game winning streak, defeating those seven opponents by an average of 17.6 points a game. The Mustangs are off to their best 10-game start since the 1999-2000 when they also began 9-1. They are coming off a 64-62 win at TCU on Dec. 21 in a game that saw guard Dez Willingham hit a 3-pointer as time expired. SMU’s only loss came at Florida State in the third game of the season, 59-52.
Senior forward Ike Ofoegbu leads SMU in scoring and is second in rebounding with his 14.3 and 8.1 season averages. He is shooting .584 from the field, .438 from 3-point range (7-for-16) and .708 from the free throw line. He attempts a team-high 6.5 foul shots per game. Devon Pearson, another senior forward, averages 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest while junior guard Derrick Roberts averages 10.4 points and is shooting .525 from beyond the arc (21-for-40). Senior center Donatas Rackauskas is averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 8.8 boards a game. Sophomore center Bamba Fall contributes 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds a contest. Fall also averages 2.7 blocked shots per game while shooting a team-high .679 from the field.
Matt Doherty is in his first season as SMU’s head coach. Doherty, who owns a 99-72 (.579) career record, also spent two seasons as head coach at Notre Dame (1998-99 through 1999-2000) and three at North Carolina (2000-01 through 2002-03).
SMU SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma holds a 34-14 advantage over SMU in a series that dates back to the 1916-17 season. OU is 21-4 against the Mustangs in Norman, 11-9 in Dallas and 2-1 at neutral sites. The Sooners are 3-0 versus SMU at Lloyd Noble Center.
LAST YEAR AGAINST THE MUSTANGS
The Sooners notched a 50-47 road win in their final regular season non-conference game last year (Jan. 3).
OU posted the win despite committing 19 turnovers and shooting just .390 from the field. SMU shot only .327 from the field
Oklahoma outrebounded SMU 41-21 overall and 17-8 on the offensive glass.
Taj Gray recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He was the only Sooner in double figures in points.
David Godbold hit key 3-pointers on back-to-back second-half possessions.
SMU’s Dez Willingham was 4-for-10 from 3-point range and scored a game-high 20 points.
OU held the Mustangs to 17 points in the first half.
SMU head coach Matt Doherty was North Carolina’s head coach for three seasons (2000-01 through 2002-03). OU head coach Jeff Capel’s brother, Jason, was a forward for the Tar Heels for the first two of those three seasons.
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 Conference with its +8.4 rebounding margin per game. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 7-0 when it has outboarded its opponents and 0-3 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 13.9 a game (42.0 to 28.1). In their losses they’ve been outboarded by 4.3 a game (34.3 to 30.0).
OU averages 11.9 offensive rebounds per outing on the year while opponents average 9.3. Purdue and Tulsa are the only teams to grab more offensive boards than the Sooners in a game this year.
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 13.3 points and 1.7 blocks per outing while ranking second with his 7.0 rebounds. He also paces the team and ranks fourth in the Big 12 with a .602 field goal mark.
Longar, who was born in Sudan and attended high school in Rochester, Minn., recorded a 24-point, career-high 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 also scored 21 points against Liberty in the second game of the season (Nov. 16).
Longar already has more points this year (133) than he scored over his first two seasons combined.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its seven wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 13.9 a game. In its three losses it is getting outboarded by 4.3.
Opponents are shooting just .318 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .468 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.1 (116 assists and 101 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.8 (36 and 63).
Longar Longar is averaging 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 8.0 points and 5.0 boards in their defeats.
Interestingly, OU is shooting .636 from the free throw line in its wins compared to .796 in its losses.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU ranks first in the Big 12 in rebounding margin (+8.4), second in scoring defense (54.9 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.363) and third in scoring margin (+15.7).
Michael Neal leads the conference with his .893 free throw percentage (25-for-28).
Longar Longar ranks 17th in the conference in scoring (13.3 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (.602), 10th in rebounding (7.0), third in offensive rebounding (3.1) and seventh in blocked shots (1.7).
Taylor Griffin (ninth) and David Godbold (17th) rank in the top 20 in rebounding with their 7.1 and 5.7 respective averages. Griffin also ranks sixth in the league with his 5.1 defensive boards a contest.
Austin Johnson’s 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks sixth in the conference.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following are some notes about Oklahoma’s play at Lloyd Noble Center through six games this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 48.8 points a contest (four foes have scored less than 50 points). It is outscoring its opponents 73.3 to 48.8 at Lloyd Noble Center (a margin of 24.5 points a game).
The Sooners are shooting .503 at home while opponents have shot .340.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 40.5 to 28.3 count (+12.2).
Four of Tony Crocker’s five double-digit scoring games have come at Lloyd Noble (he also has a nine-point game). He is averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists at home while shooting .550 from the field. He scored 15 points against Norfolk State, 18 versus Liberty, 19 against Villanova and 18 versus UT Arlington.
Austin Johnson is shooting .500 from 3-point range (13-for-26).
Opponents have racked up 112 turnovers to just 49 assists.
HOME IS WHERE THE “W” IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 36 of the last 39 games and 84 of the last 91 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 403-66 (.859) 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.
SOONER QUICK TIPS
All seven of OU’s victories have been by double figures.
OU’s next three opponents have a combined record of 30-5 (SMU is 9-1, Alabama is 11-1 and Texas Tech is 10-3).
Guard Tony Crocker is looking to become just the second OU freshman since forward Jeff Webster (18.3 ppg) in 1990-91 to average double figures in points (guard Drew Lavender averaged 11.3 in 2003-04).
Thirty-one of Longar Longar’s 70 rebounds this season (44 percent) have come on the offensive end of the floor. Nate Carter has plucked 12 of his 23 rebounds (52 percent) off the offensive glass.
Oklahoma shot .769 from the free throw line over its first six games but owns just a .519 mark (27-for-52) over the last four outings. Longar began the season by making his first nine free throw attempts. Since then he is 6-for-18 (.333).
No opponent has shot .500 from the field against OU this year. In fact, the Sooners have held seven of their 10 foes to figures under .400 on the season.
Every Sooner averages fewer than 30 minutes a game. Junior guard David Godbold averages a team-high 29.4 minutes.
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 1,436-912 (.612) all-time record and a 403-66 (.859) 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.