Men's Basketball Entertains Coppin State Friday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 17, 2011

  Steven Pledger will make his 2011-12 debut Friday
 Oklahoma (1-0) vs. Coppin State (1-1)
 Date & Tip Time  Friday, Nov. 18, at 7:07 p.m. CT
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center | Seating Views
 Tickets  $10, $20 and $30; $5 for OU students
 OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV  Sooner Sports Network
 KAUT Ch. 43 in Oklahoma City
 FS Oklahoma (outside of Oklahoma City market)
 ESPN Full Court
 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
 Webcast All-Access
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Oklahoma plays its second of two straight home games to open the season when it hosts Coppin State on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners are coming off a 78-74 win over Idaho State last Friday while the Eagles have split their first two games against Cheyney University (won 80-65 last Friday) and Loyola Maryland (lost 78-68 Monday).  Friday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KAUT Ch. 43 in OKC; FS Oklahoma outside of OKC market; ESPN Full Court) with Bob Carpenter and Billy Tubbs calling the action.

• Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online here.  Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Friday.
• OU students may purchase a ticket for $5.  OU student season tickets cost $40.

Gameday Central: OU vs. Coppin State

• The Sooners' pressure defense under new head coach Lon Kruger has boosted the team's offense through two exhibitions and one regular season game.  Opponents have committed at least 18 turnovers in each of the three outings, resulting in an average of 21.0 points per contest for the Sooners on the other end of the floor.
• OU has shown balanced scoring in its two exhibition games and one regular season contest.  In those three outings, seven different Sooners have scored in double figures (a total of 15 times).
• Rebounding was mentioned by Kruger several times in the preseason as a concern of his for 2011-12.  However, OU outrebounded its two exhibition opponents by an average of 13.0 per game and outboarded Idaho State in Friday's regular season opener by four.
• Junior guard Steven Pledger was suspended for Friday's season opener against Idaho State due to impermissible participation in a pro-am game this past summer, but will be back in action against Coppin State.
• OU's win over Idaho State leaves Kruger just 20 victories shy of 500 for his career.  He ranks second among current Big 12 head coaches with 480 career wins (Texas' Rick Barnes has 526 victories).

Located in Baltimore, Md., Coppin State is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and finished 16-14 last year with an 11-5 league record (tied for second place).  The Eagles return 10 letterwinners and four starters from that squad, and are picked third out of 13 teams in the preseason MEAC poll.

Leading the way for Coppin State through two games (an 80-65 home win over Cheyney University and a 78-68 road loss to Loyola Maryland) is senior guard Tony Gallo.   One of four returning players who averaged double figures in scoring last year, Gallo is averaging 20.0 points and 2.5 assists this season.  He has already made seven 3-pointers (.389) and is coming off a 23-point effort at Loyola Maryland.  Senior guard Akeem Ellis is averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game and turned in a 13-point, 6-rebound, 9-assist performance at Loyola Maryland.  Michael Harper, another senior guard, is contributing 12.5 points per contest off the bench on .692 field goal shooting (9-for-13).  Harper was a second-team all-conference selection last year when he averaged a team-high 15.2 points per game and led the league in 3-point (.438) and free throw (.881) percentage. 

The Eagles are under the direction of head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell, who is 396-358 (.525) over his 25 years, all at Coppin State.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Sam Grooms | Jr. | Guard
 • Finished with 11 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals in season-opening win against Idaho State last Friday
 • Averaged 9.0 points in 22.0 minutes a game in exhibition games on .667 FG shooting
 • Rated as country's No. 3 junior college prospect last year at Chipola (Fla.) College
 • Averaged 11.1 points, 5.9 assists last year


Oklahoma is 14-0 in its series with Coppin State, with 13 of those games played in Norman (the other was played in Oklahoma City in 1997-98 as part of the All-College Tournament).  Ron "Fang" Mitchell has served as the Eagles' head coach in all 14 meetings.  This will mark the third time in the last four years Coppin State has visited Norman.  All previous 14 contests have taken place in the last 20 years.  Mitchell has faced Oklahoma during his 25-year tenure at Coppin State more times than any other non-conference opponent (UMBC is next highest at 11, followed by Missouri at eight).

The Sooners opened the 2010-11 season with a 77-57 home win over Coppin State behind Andrew Fitzgerald's 22 points and six rebounds.  Fitzgerald was 8-for-13 from the field and 6-for-8 from the foul line.  Steven Pledger and Calvin Newell scored 13 points each for OU while Cameron Clark added 11 points and 11 boards.  Clark was 3-for-4 from 3-point range.  Coppin State's Michael Harper netted 18 points and pulled down five rebounds while Mike Simpson contributed 11 points.  The Sooners shot .510 from the field and held the Eagles to a .345 mark.  The teams combined for just 18 turnovers (10 by OU and eight by Coppin State).

Oklahoma received a strong fight from Idaho State in Lon Kruger's debut as OU head coach last Friday, but it was another Sooner's first game at Lloyd Noble Center that helped seal a 78-74 victory.  Junior forward Romero Osby, a transfer from Mississippi State, recorded career highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds while adding four assists, two blocks and a steal as OU rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to notch the win.

The Sooners struggled in the opening 20 minutes against Idaho State's 2-3 zone, shooting .241 from the field.  They trailed 27-17 with 5:30 left in the half before rallying to within three at intermission, 34-31.  OU didn't take the lead for good until Carl Blair's 3-pointer with 9:50 left in the game gave it a 56-54 advantage.  The lead grew to as many as 10 with 1:30 remaining before Idaho State closed to within four at the final buzzer.  Joining Osby in double figures for OU were Calvin Newell (career-high 19 points with the help of four 3-pointers), Blair (12 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists) and Sam Grooms (11 points to add to his six rebounds and eight assists).

• After shooting just .241 in the first half, the Sooners recorded a .471 mark after halftime to finish the game at .365.  Idaho State shot .467 on the night.
• Starters Andrew Fitzgerald (seven) and Cameron Clark (two) combined for just nine points on 3-for-17 (.176) shooting.  In OU's two exhibition games, the pair combined to average 26.5 points per contest on 16-for-32 (.500) shooting.
• Eighteen of the Sooners' 41 rebounds were offensive and OU outscored the Bengals 12-2 on second-chance points.
• Oklahoma's six blocked shots were just one shy of last year's season high.
• OU's win marked its 32nd in its last 33 home openers.

Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 86 of its last 88 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .977 winning percentage).  Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova, 67-51, on Dec. 6, 2006.  The only other home non-conference loss during the last 88 games was a 66-62 defeat at the hands of Stephen F. Austin in the 2007-08 season.  The current win string stands at 28 games.

OU Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione has been appointed to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, the NCAA announced Wednesday.  Castiglione is replacing former Big 12 Conference Commissioner Dan Beebe, and will serve out the remainder of Beebe's term through the 2012-13 season.

"It is an honor to serve with this prestigious committee; a committee that has provided outstanding leadership through the years," Castiglione said.  "The NCAA basketball tournament has emerged as one of this country's greatest sporting events.  I recognize and embrace the high expectations that come with this role and look forward to working with my colleagues in presenting the best of college basketball.  I fully understand that this assignment requires a great deal of preparation and I'm excited to get started."

Oklahoma will travel to Anaheim, Calif., next week for the 76 Classic.  The eight-team tournament will be spread over four days (Nov. 24-27), with each squad playing three games at the Anaheim Convention Center.  It will be OU's first appearance in the event.

The Sooners open Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day), against Washington State (22-13 record last year; NIT semifinals) at 10:30 p.m. CT in a game televised by ESPN2.  The next day, OU will face New Mexico (22-13 last year) or Santa Clara (24-14) at either 8:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. CT on ESPN2 or ESPNU.  After a day off, Sunday's third-round game will pit the Sooners versus Boston College, Saint Louis, UC Riverside or Villanova.



Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
Sooner Sports Properties is a joint venture of Learfield Communications and Tyler Media, LLC.


Sooner Sports Powered by FOX Sports is a multi-platform network that provides distribution of 1,000+ hours of Sooner sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest, and FOX College Sports.