Capel's Sooners Home Again Thursday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 15, 2006

Oklahoma looks to improve to 2-0 Thursday when it hosts Liberty at 7:08 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center.  The game will mark the first of the regular season for the Flames, who split their two exhibition contests (lost 87-83 to Barton College; won 76-62 against Cedarville).  The Sooners are coming off a 99-36 victory over Norfolk State last Friday. 

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 (KAUT Ch. 43/Cox 16 in OKC; Cox 3 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Kenny Mossman calling the action.  The contest will also be available for viewing on ESPN Full Court.  Additionally, an Internet webcast on will be available (an O-Zone subscription is required).

Tip: 7:08 p.m. CST
TV: Sooner Sports Network
 Stations: KAUT Ch. 43, Cox 16 (OKC); Cox 3 (Tulsa); ESPN Full Court
Radio: Sooner Radio Network
 Flagship: KOKC 1520 AM (OKC)
Webcast: O-Zone on
Series: First meeting

Game Notes (PDF) | Tickets | Schedule  

Upper-level reserved seats are available for $15 (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 Thursday at 5:30 p.m.


The first 500 fans will receive a "100th Year of Basketball" t-shirt.
The first 200 OU students in the CrimZone floor sections will receive a fan banner.

O-Zone Webcast | Live Stats  

(Exhibition Averages) 
F  11  Damien Hubbard (6-6, 210, Sr., 4.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
F  21  Alex McLean (6-8, 235, Jr., 13.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
F  33  Rell Porter (6-7, 195, Jr., 5.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
G  5   Anthony Smith (6-4, 185, So., 14.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G  22  Larry Blair (6-0, 185, Sr., 28.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

F  32  Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 8.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) 
C  30  Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) 
G  5   Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 15.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) 
G  15  David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) 
G  20  Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 18.0 ppg, 9.0 apg) 

Austin Johnson
The Sooners won their 13th straight home opener last Friday when they handled Norfolk State 99-36 in Jeff Capel's debut as Oklahoma head coach.  OU scorched the nets with its .585 field goal percentage and .611 3-point mark (11-for-18).  Both figures would have been season highs a year ago and the 3-point performance was OU's best since also going 11-for-18 against High Point on Dec. 15, 2002 (a span of 157 games).   The Sooners forced 21 turnovers while committing 13 and outrebounded the Spartans by a 49-31 count.

Sophomore guard Austin Johnson led five Sooners in double figures in scoring with his career-high 18 points (all in the first half).  Johnson made his first five 3-point attempts and also posted a career high with his nine assists against just one turnover while adding four rebounds and a pair of blocks in 30 minutes of action.   He was followed in scoring by freshman guard Tony Crocker (15 points), junior center Longar Longar (14), junior guard David Godbold (13) and senior forward Nate Carter (11).  Longar also matched his career high with seven boards in just 22 minutes.

Senior guard Chris Walker, who started OU's first five games last year but then played just 65 minutes the rest of the season, was a spark off the bench.  The lefty contributed four points and career highs in rebounds (seven), assists (six) and steals (three) in 28 minutes.

The 63-point victory margin tied as the eighth largest in school history.
Norfolk State's 36 points were its fewest ever.
The Sooners' 54 points in the first half were more than they scored in any one half last season.
Tony Crocker's 15 points were the most by an OU freshman in his first game since forward Ryan Humphrey tallied 17 in 1997-98.  The last time a freshman guard netted at least 15 points in his first game was 16 years ago (KeKe Hicks scored 16 versus St.  Joseph's College in 1990-91).
Freshman Keith Clark and senior Kellen Sampson both went 2-for-2 from 3-point range off the bench.
The win was OU's 47th straight at home in non-conference play.

A Big South Conference member, Liberty plays its first regular season game on Thursday.  The Flames return five starters from last year's 7-23 squad that finished 3-13 in league play (eighth place).  Liberty split its two exhibition games, losing to Barton College by an 87-83 count and beating Cedarville by a 76-62 score.

The Flames will be led in 2006-07 by senior Larry Blair.  The 6-0 guard averaged 22.6 points a game last year, the only Liberty player in double figures.  Blair also led the team in assists (2.7 a game), steals (2.0), 3-pointers (2.1), 3-point percentage (.356), free throws (4.9) and free throw percentage (.799).  He averaged 28.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 steals in Liberty's two exhibition games.  A 20-game starter last year, sophomore guard Anthony Smith is back after averaging 9.2 points a contest and making 28 treys on the year.  Senior forward Damien Hubbard returns after contributing 8.7 points and a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game.  Junior forward Rell Porter, who, like Hubbard, started all 30 games, averaged 5.1 points and 5.5 boards.  Junior center Russell Monroe started 17 games last year and supplied 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds an outing.

Junior guard Dwight Brewington is a transfer from Providence who must sit out the first semester due to NCAA transfer rules.  He averaged 13.1 points a game as a sophomore in 2004-05 for the Friars but will not play Thursday.

Randy Dunton is in his sixth season as Liberty's head coach and owns a 63-85 (.426) record there.  He is in his eighth year as a collegiate head coach and sports a 97-111 (.466) career mark (.432).  

Oklahoma and Liberty have never met in men's basketball.

Located in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty is about a two-hour drive from Richmond where OU head coach Jeff Capel spent the previous four years directing the Virginia Commonwealth basketball program.
OU assistant coach Ben Betts was born in Lynchburg and is a 1986 graduate of Amherst County High School.
Liberty director of basketball operations Jason Eaker spent the 2004-05 season as a graduate assistant on the OU men's basketball staff.  The Sooners finished 25-8 that year and shared the Big 12 regular season title.

Michael Neal
The University of Oklahoma athletics department announced Nov. 7 that Michael Neal will be required to sit out two regular season contests due to a secondary violation involving a summer basketball league. 

"Unfortunately, Michael participated in a league that was outside of the 100-mile radius from his residence, as defined by the NCAA," said OU head coach Jeff Capel.  "He will sit out our upcoming games against Norfolk State and Liberty.  He is a valuable contributor to our team and we look forward to him being back in the lineup soon."

Jeff Capel announced Nov. 9 that freshman guard Bobby Maze will miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his right foot sustained during practice the previous day.  A 6-3, 175-pounder from Suitland, Md., Maze played a total of 29 minutes in OU's two exhibition games without scoring.  He averaged 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot.

Oklahoma will board a plane Friday morning and spend Thanksgiving week in Lahaina, Hawaii, at the eight-team EA SPORTS Maui Invitational.  All three of OU's games (Nov. 20-22) will be televised by the ESPN family of networks.  The Sooners play the tournament's first game against Memphis at 1:30 p.m. CST (9:30 a.m. in Hawaii) and will face either Georgia Tech or Purdue in the second round.  OU's third-round opponent will be DePaul, Kentucky, UCLA or host Chaminade.

It will mark OU's third trip to the Maui Invitational and 10th time it has participated in a tournament in the Aloha State.  The Sooners were runners-up in the 1988 Maui Invitational and finished fifth in 1992 (they went 2-1 both times).  They also competed in the Big Island Invitational in 1997 (1-2 record) and 2000 (3-0), the Chaminade Classic in 1984 (1-1) and 1987 (3-0), the Hawaii-Loa Tournament in 1985 (2-0) and the Rainbow Classic in 1982 (2-1) and 1994 (1-2).

The Sooners have won 47 straight non-conference home games and 55 of their last 57.  The 47 consecutive home non-conference wins gives them the longest current streak in the country (tied with Illinois).  Cincinnati is the last non-conference opponent to hand OU a loss inside Lloyd Noble Center, a 72-57 outcome on Dec. 22, 1999.

Trailing Oklahoma and Illinois in consecutive home non-conference wins are Duke (43), Utah State (37) and Sam Houston State (29). 

Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 32 of the last 34 games and 80 of the last 86 in the building.  Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05.  OU is 399-65 (.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.

First-year Oklahoma men's basketball head coach Jeff Capel wasted no time in showcasing his ability to attract top talent to Norman.  Capel and his staff announced the signing of four high school seniors to national letters of intent Nov. 9.  Headlining the class, which is ranked 14th nationally by, is top-20 national recruit Blake Griffin.  Joining Griffin, a power forward from Oklahoma City (Oklahoma Christian School), as Sooners next year will be guard Cade Davis (Elk City, Okla./Elk City HS), wing Chris Early (Huntington, W. Va./Huntington HS) and combo guard Tony Neysmith (Norcross, Ga./Norcross HS).

"These four guys, first and foremost, are really good basketball players," said Capel.  "And they all come from traditions of winning.  A common thread with all four is that none of them are afraid to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  That's important to me.  All four want to be a part of what we're doing."

Cade Davis (G, 6-5, 205, Elk City, Okla.) 
Regarded as Oklahoma's second best senior

Chris Early (G, 6-6, 210, Huntington, W.Va.) 
Ranked No. 147 in nation by

Blake Griffin (F, 6-9, 240, Oklahoma City, Okla.) 
Ranked No. 20 in nation by

Tony Neysmith (G, 6-5, 195, Norcross, Ga.) 
Ranked No. 84 in nation by

The 2006-07 season marks the 100th 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 enter their first season under Jeff Capel with a 1,429-909 (.611) all-time record and a 398-65 (.860) record 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).

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.

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.



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