Tied for fifth place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (15-10 overall, 6-6 league) hopes to halt a two-game losing streak when it plays at Missouri (16-9, 5-7) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST. The Sooners are coming off a 56-49 home loss to sixth-ranked Texas A&M Saturday after leading by seven at halftime. Missouri has won two straight games, the most recent a 75-64 victory at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Tigers became the first team to down the Cowboys on their home floor this season.
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 be televised by the Mizzou Sports Network (Fox Sports Net Southwest in Oklahoma) with Chris Gervino and former Missouri head coach Jon Sundvold calling the action.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 20
Location: Columbia, Mo. (Mizzou Arena)
Tip: 6:06 p.m. CST
TV: Fox Sports Net Southwest (Cox 37 in OKC; Cox 27 in Tulsa; DirecTV 667 and Dish Network 453 in Oklahoma)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 110-92
OU owns a 110-92 (.545) series lead versus Missouri but is 29-57 (.337) in Columbia.
In Big 12 play, Oklahoma leads the league in scoring defense by allowing just 61.8 points per game. It is allowing 57.7 points per contest on the year to rank 11th nationally. The last time OU gave up fewer than 57.7 points per game for a season was in 1959-60.
OU is shooting .843 from the free throw line over its last seven Big 12 outings (97-for-117).
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but is averaging 17.1 points and 7.3 rebounds over the team’s 12 conference outings.
Carter has made 56 of his last 58 free throw attempts in Big 12 play. He leads the league (all games) with his .867 season percentage.
The Sooners have been outrebounded just four times in the last 21 games and just six times all season.
In its 15 wins, OU is holding foes to a .345 field goal mark. Twelve of those 15 opponents have failed to shoot .400.
Thirteen of OU’s 15 wins have been by double digits. Its average victory margin is 24.1 points.
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 10.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
G 15 David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 7.4 ppg, 3.2 apg)
MISSOURI PROJECTED STARTERS
F 15 Marshall Brown (6-6, 220, Jr., 10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
C 44 Kalen Grimes (6-9, 250, Jr., 7.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
G 2 Keon Lawrence (6-2, 180, Fr., 9.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
G 3 Stefhon Hannah (6-1, 175, Jr., 15.6 ppg, 4.6 apg)
G 33 Matt Lawrence (6-6, 205, So., 11.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
After winning four straight games, the Sooners have lost back-to-back contests to fall to 6-6 in Big 12 play. OU dropped a 56-49 decision to No. 6 Texas A&M in Norman on Saturday, despite leading 26-19 at halftime and despite getting a career-high 20 points from David Godbold with the help of a career-high five 3-pointers (on seven attempts). The Aggies shot .522 from the field after intermission while holding Jeff Capel’s squad to a .233 second-half figure (7-for-30). Acie Law (17) and Joseph Jones (12) combined for 29 of A&M’s 37 second-half points and finished with 21 each as the Sooners fell to 12-2 at home.
OU’s leading scorer (11.8 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg) on the season, Longar Longar was held to four points and seven boards on Saturday after averaging 16.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over the previous four outings. The junior center, who is shooting .585 from the field on the year, has three double-doubles in the last five games. Longar has been especially effective in the team’s 15 wins this year, averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting .635 from the floor.
Senior forward Nate Carter, who averaged 19.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per Big 12 contest entering last Tuesday’s game at Iowa State, has averaged 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while going 4-for-17 from the field over the last two contests. In 12 Big 12 games, Carter is now averaging 17.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting .504 from the field in 31 minutes an outing. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 boards in 13 minutes a game prior to league play.
Senior guard Michael Neal had converted 23-of-49 3-point attempts (.469) over a stretch of eight league games prior to going 1-for-8 against Iowa State and 1-for-5 versus Texas A&M. Neal, last year’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, averages 10.0 points and 2.8 rebounds a contest while shooting .305 from beyond the arc. In Big 12 games, he ranks 11th in the league in 3-point percentage (.380) and ninth in 3-point makes per game (2.3).
Sophomore guard Tony Crocker averaged 11.1 points and 4.4 rebounds through OU’s first 14 games but is averaging 5.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 11 games since. A 23-game starter, he has been held to single digits in points in 10 of the last 11 contests. Another guard, sophomore Austin Johnson averages 7.4 points and a team-high 3.2 assists but has just four total points and three assists over the last three games (58 total minutes). On the year he is shooting .337 from 3-point range and .920 (23-for-25) from the free throw line. Johnson also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. Godbold, a junior guard who also averages 7.4 points, ranks second behind Neal with his 36 treys this season. He has seven games with at least three makes on the year.
Freshman guard Bobby Maze has provided a spark off the bench recently. 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. He is averaging 5.6 points and 2.0 assists while shooting .494 from the field this year in 16 minutes a game.
TEXAS A&M LEFTOVERS
Texas A&M’s 19 first-half points were its fewest in a half this year and its seven-point halftime deficit was its largest of the season.
OU fell to 15-2 this year when leading at halftime with both losses coming to Texas A&M.
Oklahoma was outrebounded (34-31) for just the sixth time this season and only the fourth time in the last 21 games.
The loss, the second this year to A&M, dropped the Sooners’ all-time record against the Aggies to 25-3 (12-1 in Norman).
Winner of three of its last four and five of its last eight, Missouri stands in eighth place in the Big 12 race but is just one game out of fifth. The young Tigers boast a 13-4 home record this season, including a 2-4 mark at home in conference play. They are coming off an impressive 75-64 win at Oklahoma State on Saturday, a result that broke the Cowboys’ 17-game home winning streak. Missouri, which leads the league in steals (10.7 per game) and opponent turnovers (19.6 per game), are one of four conference teams that are getting outrebounded on the year (36.8 to 34.9).
The Tigers’ starting five consists of three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. Junior guard Stefhon Hannah is averaging 15.6 points and 4.6 assists, and ranks second in the Big 12 with his 2.6 steals per outing. Hannah has made 50 3-pointers in 25 games and is shooting .407 from beyond the arc. Matt Lawrence, a sophomore guard, averages 11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting a team-high .446 from 3-point range. He was 5-for-7 from long distance on Saturday and ranks third in the conference with his 3-point percentage and second with his 2.6 treys per contest. Junior forward Marshall Brown averages 10.6 points and 4.0 rebounds while getting to the free throw line for a team-high 89 attempts (shooting .719). Keon Lawrence, a freshman guard, is the reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Week after averaging 21.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in two wins last week. On the year, he is averaging 9.3 points and 1.8 assists per contest. Junior center Kalen Grimes contributes 7.4 points and a team-high 6.0 boards a game while shooting .506 from the floor.
Mike Anderson, a 1982 graduate of Tulsa, is in his first season as Missouri’s head coach after spending the last four seasons compiling an 89-41 (.685) record at UAB.
OKLAHOMA-MISSOURI SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 110-92 all-time record against Missouri but trails in games played in Columbia, 57-29. The Sooners, who are 11-6 against the Tigers since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, have lost four of the last six in the series after winning nine straight. The last meeting in Columbia was a 68-65 overtime win for the Tigers in the 2004-05 season.
LAST YEAR VERSUS THE TIGERS
Missouri posted its fourth straight regular season win against the Sooners when Marshall Brown hit two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining in Norman last year for a 71-69 triumph. He was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Oklahoma’s Taj Gray. OU, which led 33-32 at halftime, shot just .367 from the field after the break in falling to 0-2 in Big 12 play. Brown scored 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting and pulled down six rebounds for the Tigers while Thomas Gardner also netted 21 points with the help of four 3-pointers. Gray finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, Terrell Everett had 11 points, seven boards and seven assists while Austin Johnson contributed 10 points and a career-high six rebounds.
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 17.1 points and 7.3 boards in 31 minutes per contest over 12 league outings. He is shooting .504 from the field and .893 from the free throw line (67-for-75) in conference play, and leads the team with his 38 offensive rebounds. Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 220 over the last 13.
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 eight of the last 10 league contests.
Carter (17.1 ppg and 7.3 rpg) is one of three players who average at least 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in Big 12 play. Texas’ Kevin Durant (29.3 points and 13.1 boards) and Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan (19.6 and 8.5) are the others.
Carter leads the Big 12 (all games) in free throw shooting (.867). He has made 56 of his last 58 attempts in league play (.966).
Carter had his school-record string of 37 consecutive 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 second in the league field goal percentage (.504), third in offensive rebounding (3.2 per game), third in free throw percentage (.893), fourth in free throw attempts (6.3 per game), seventh in scoring (17.1 ppg) and 10th in rebounding (7.3 rpg).
Over a four-game Big 12 span (Jan. 20 through Feb. 3), Carter averaged 11.0 free throw attempts. In four league games since, he is averaging 2.5 attempts.
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 11.8 points per game, 7.6 rebounds (ranks sixth in Big 12), 1.4 blocks (ranks seventh) and his .585 field goal mark (would rank second in the league but he is one make 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 last Tuesday. 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 already has more than twice as many points this year (271) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 57.7 points per game and .392 combined field goal percentage. The last time OU gave up less than 57.7 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 .392 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 (.547 on Jan. 13 in Austin). The Sooners have held 12 of their 25 opponents under .400 shooting.
FINE AT THE LINE
After shooting .670 from the free throw line in non-conference games, the Sooners are shooting .759 from the charity stripe in Big 12 action to rank second in the league. They own a .829 charity stripe mark (97-for-117) over their last seven league outings.
Oklahoma ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with its +5.9 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just four times over the last 21 contests. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 13-3 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-7 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 12 Big 12 games. OU is averaging just 12.2 turnovers per conference outing to rank third in the Big 12. The Sooners are 10-1 this year when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its 15 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 10.6 a game. In its 10 losses it is getting outboarded by 0.5.
OU is shooting .493 from the field in its wins but only .384 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .345 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 +1.2 (235 assists and 194 turnovers). The ratio in losses is 0.7 (113 and 152).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 7.2 points and 6.4 boards in their defeats.
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.
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.
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 1,444-919 (.611) all-time record and a 410-67 (.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).