The Oklahoma men's basketball team (11-8 overall, 3-4 Big 12) returns home after a pair of road losses to top-15 teams when it plays its final regular season non-conference game against Longwood (7-16) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CST in Norman. OU lost at No. 6/6 Texas A&M on Saturday, 70-61, while Division I independent Longwood beat High Point on Sunday, 69-64.
Tuesday’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 not be televised, but a SoonerSports.com webcast will be available (an O-Zone subscription is required).
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $10 (north and south) and $20 (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 Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
All eight of OU’s losses are to teams ranked in the top 49 of CBS SportsLine’s RPI poll (as of Sunday). Seven are to teams in the top 37.
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but leads OU with his 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds over the team’s seven conference outings.
Carter has made his last 36 free throw attempts, tying Hollis Price’s school record (2002-03). The Big 12 record is 39 straight makes by OSU’s Joey Graham in 2004-05.
Over the last three games, Carter is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds while going 32-for-32 at the free throw line.
The Sooners lead the Big 12 with their +6.9 rebounding margin per contest. They have been outboarded twice in the last 15 games.
Michael Neal is 20-for-40 (.500) from 3-point range over the past seven games. He was 13-for-63 (.206) over his first 11 outings.
In its 11 wins, OU is holding its foes to a .326 field goal mark. Only one of those 11 opponents has shot better than .370.
All 11 of OU’s wins have been by double digits. Its average victory margin is 26.9 points.
In Big 12 play, OU leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22) and ranks second by committing just 11.6 turnovers a game. The Sooners averaged 15.8 in non-league play.
LONGWOOD PROJECTED STARTERS
F 1 Clayton Morgan (6-7, 225, Sr., 12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
F 50 Lamar Barrett (6-6, 205, Jr., 6.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
G 10 Brandon Giles (5-10, 155, Jr., 5.5 ppg, 3.5 apg)
G 32 Husein Pistojevic (6-2, 190, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
G 45 Maurice Sumter (6-5, 185, Sr., 16.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 9.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 8.7 ppg, 3.4 apg)
The Sooners lost at sixth-ranked Texas AM on Saturday, 70-61, their second loss of the week to a top-15 team on the road. OU, which trailed just 2-0 and 4-2 in the first half, led 29-28 at halftime and held an 18-12 rebounding advantage. The Aggies shot .565 and outrebounded the Sooners 23-15 after intermission, however, to win their 19th straight home game. OU shot just .303 in the second half.
Senior guard Michael Neal was held to eight points on Saturday as he managed just six field goal attempts. He was 2-for-5 from 3-point range and has now converted 18 of his 36 long-range attempts (.500) over the past five games. He is averaging 14.0 points over the span. On the year, Neal averages 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting .320 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Tony Crocker, one of the Big 12’s more productive freshmen, ranks third on the team by scoring 9.8 points a game and also supplies 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals. He is the only Sooner who has started all 19 games but has been held to single digits in points in each of the last five outings. Another guard, sophomore Austin Johnson averages 8.7 points and a team-high 3.4 assists while shooting a team-best .352 from 3-point range. Johnson also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Longar Longar, OU’s leading scorer (11.0 ppg) and rebounder (7.2 rpg) on the season, played 30 minutes off the bench at A&M on Saturday and recorded seven points and a game-high nine rebounds. The junior center is shooting .580 from the field and has also blocked 22 shots in his 17 outings. Longar is averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in OU’s victories. Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin has started 18 of 19 games on the year and in conference play averages 8.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocked shots. He tied a career high with three rejections at Oklahoma State last Monday and has 15 blocks over the last 10 games.
TEXAS A&M LEFTOVERS
Oklahoma fell to 11-1 this year when leading at halftime.
Nate Carter was 13-for-13 from the free throw line and tied Hollis Price’s 2002-03 school record for consecutive free throw makes in a season (36).
Austin Johnson’s six assists tied as his second most of the year, while his 10 points were his most in five games.
OU went 19-for-21 from the free throw line (.905), one game after going 13-for-14 (.929) at OSU.
The Sooners scored 16 second-chance points to A&M’s zero.
Longwood, a Division I independent from Farmville, Va., comes to Norman riding the tails of a 69-64 Sunday home win over High Point that snapped a six-game losing streak. The Lancers are 7-16 overall and have posted a 1-12 record in away games. They are shooting .401 from the field, .302 from 3-point range and .694 from the free throw line.
Senior guard/forward Maurice Sumter is averaging a team-high 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting .480 from the floor and .403 (25-for-62) from beyond the arc. Sumter, who plays 36 minutes a contest, posted 18 points, 10 boards, four assists and four steals against High Point on Sunday. Senior forward Clayton Morgan averages 12.8 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds, and gets to the foul line for 5.9 attempts a game (he is shooting .728). He registered 17 points and six rebounds Sunday. Sophomore forward Kirk Williams comes off the bench to supply 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds a contest while junior forward Lamar Barrett averages 6.4 points and 5.2 boards. Senior guard Husein Pistoljevich has made a team-high 37 3-pointers on the season and contributes 6.1 points a game.
Mike Gillian is in his fourth season as a collegiate head coach, all at Longwood. He has compiled a 23-88 (.207) record.
OKLAHOMA-LONGWOOD SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma and Longwood have never met in men’s basketball.
CARTER STEPS UP
In what has to be one of the most remarkable in-season turnarounds in college basketball this season, senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since the new calendar year. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to Big 12 play, is averaging 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds (both team highs) in 29 minutes per contest over seven league outings. He is shooting .532 from the field and .887 from the free throw line (47-for-53) in conference play, and leads the team with his 28 offensive rebounds (his 4.0 average ranks third in the league). Over the last three games, he is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds while going 32-for-32 at the free throw line. Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 129 over the last seven.
MORE ON CARTER
Nate Carter scored 13 points in OU’s Big 12 opener at Texas Tech and has increased his Big 12 scoring average in each game since. The lefty recorded 15 points versus Colorado, 18 at Texas, 19 against Nebraska, 22 versus Baylor, 23 at Oklahoma State and 19 at Texas A&M. 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 each of the last five contests.
Carter (18.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg) is one of three players who average at least 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in Big 12 play. Texas’ Kevin Durant averages 32.7 and 13.0 while Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan averages 18.7 and 8.5.
CROCKER AMONG BIG 12’S TOP FRESHMEN
Tony Crocker is having one of the better freshman campaigns in recent OU memory. The guard is the only Sooner who has started every game and owns season averages of 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting .472 from the field and .795 from the free throw line in 25 minutes a game. He ranks seventh among Big 12 freshmen in scoring.
Crocker 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 11.0 points per game, 7.2 rebounds (ranks eighth in Big 12), 1.3 blocks (ranks eighth) and his .580 field goal mark.
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), and was named Big 12 Co-Player of the Week. 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 60 more points this year (187) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
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.
The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 58.1 points per game and .384 combined field goal percentage. The last time OU gave up less than 58.1 points per contest for an entire season was in 1959-60 (56.8 ppg) a span of 47 years. The last time Oklahoma opponents shot worse than .384 for a season was in 1960-61 (.377).
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 (it posted a .547 mark on Jan. 13 in Austin).
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 Conference with its +6.9 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just twice over the last 15 contests. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 10-3 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-5 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 12.1 a game.
PROTECTING THE BALL
After averaging 15.8 turnovers a game in non-conference play, the Sooners have done a much better job of taking care of the basketball in their seven Big 12 games. OU is averaging 11.6 turnovers per conference outing (ranks second in Big 12) and is coming off an eight-turnover game at Texas A&M (it did not commit a turnover in the second half). The Sooners, who also lead the conference (Big 12 games) with a 1.22 assist-to-turnover ratio, are 8-1 this year when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents.
HOME IS WHERE THE “W” IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 40 of the last 43 games and 88 of the last 95 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 407-66 (.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 10 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 11 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 12.1 a game. In its eight losses it is getting outboarded by 0.1.
OU is shooting .498 from the field in its wins but only .390 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .326 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .466 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.3 (180 assists and 144 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.3 (96 and 126).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 5.9 points and 5.6 boards in their defeats.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU leads the Big 12 in rebounding margin (+6.9), ranks second in scoring defense (58.1 ppg), third in field goal percentage defense (.384) and fifth in blocked shots (4.5 bpg).
Longar Longar ranks eighth in the conference in rebounding (7.0), sixth in offensive rebounding (2.6) and eighth in blocked shots (1.3).
Taylor Griffin ranks 11th in rebounding with his 6.3 boards a game , 13th with his 4.1 defensive boards a contest and 13th with his 2.2 offensive rebounds per outing.
Austin Johnson’s 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth 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 1,441-917 (.611) all-time record and a 407-66 (.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.