Sooners at No. 6 Texas A&M Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 26, 2007

The Oklahoma Sooners (11-7 overall, 3-3 Big 12) travel to play No. 6/6 Texas A&M (16-3, 4-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. CST inside Reed Arena in College Station.  The Sooners are coming off a 66-61 loss at No. 13/16 Oklahoma State on Monday after winning back-to-back home games.  Texas A&M had its nine-game winning steak halted at Texas Tech on Wednesday, 70-68.

Saturday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KRXO-FM 107.7 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised by ESPN with Bob Wischusen and Stephen Bardo calling the action.

Saturday, Jan. 27
Location: College Station, Texas (Reed Arena)
Tip: 1:05 p.m. CST
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KRXO 107.7 FM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 25-1

Oklahoma owns a 25-1 (.582) all-time record against Texas A&M and is 10-1 all-time in College Station.
OU’s three conference wins have come by an average of 27.0 points.
The Sooners lead the Big 12 with their +7.4 rebounding margin per contest.  They have been outrebounded once in the last 14 games.
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but leads OU with his 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over the team’s six conference outings.
Over the last two games, Carter is averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds while going 19-for-19 at the free throw line.
Michael Neal is 18-for-35 (.514) from 3-point range over the past five 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.
OU ranks third in the Big 12 by averaging just 12.2 turnovers per league game.  The Sooners averaged 15.8 in non-league play.

Game Notes (PDF) | Life on the Road Video  

F  24  Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 
F  32  Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) 
G  2   Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg) 
G  5   Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 
G  20  Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 8.7 ppg, 3.3 apg)

F  44  Antanas Kavaliauskas (6-9, 250, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
C  30  Joseph Jones (6-9, 250, Jr., 13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
G  1   Acie Law (6-3, 195, Sr., 16.5 ppg 4.8 apg)
G  22  Dominique Kirk (6-3, 180, Jr., 6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G  23  Josh Carter (6-7, 195, So., 11.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Season Stats | Schedule  

The Sooners had their two-game winning streak snapped at Oklahoma State Monday in a narrow 66-61 contest.  OU led most of the first half, fell down by nine in the second half and drew to within one on an Austin Johnson 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.  The Cowboys made their final four free throw attempts, however, to secure victory.  Jeff Capel’s squad made 13 of their 14 free throw tries and outrebounded OSU by a 34-30 count, but .300 second-half shooting and the Cowboys’ 27-for-38 free throw performance proved too much for OU to overcome.

Senior forward Nate Carter continued his breakout play since the start of Big 12 action by netting a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds against the Cowboys (both represented personal OU highs for the second-year Sooner).  He was 7-for-12 from the field and 9-for-9 from the foul line.  Since freshman forward Keith Clark sustained a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 28, Carter has seen his playing time skyrocket.  In six Big 12 games, he is averaging team highs in points (18.3) and rebounds (8.3) in 29 minutes an outing.  He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 boards in 13 minutes a game prior to league play. 

Michael Neal
Senior guard Michael Neal netted 13 points on Monday, all in the first half.  He was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and has now converted 16 of his 31 long-range attempts over the past four games.  He is averaging 15.5 points over the span.  On the year, Neal averages 10.7 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting .316 from beyond the arc.  Sophomore guard Tony Crocker, one of the Big 12’s top freshmen, ranks third on the team by scoring 9.9 points a game and also supplies 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals.  He is the only Sooner who has started all 18 games but has been held to single digits in points in each of the last four outings.  Another guard, sophomore Austin Johnson averages 8.7 points and a team-high 3.3 assists while shooting a team-best .358 from 3-point range.  Johnson also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Longar Longar, OU’s leading scorer (11.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg) on the season, returned from a two-game Big 12 suspension to record 10 points and nine rebounds last Saturday against Baylor and had two points and four boards in 16 minutes at Oklahoma State.  The junior center is shooting .579 from the field and has also blocked 19 shots in his 16 outings.  Longar is averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in OU’s victories.  Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin has started 17 of 18 games on the year and in conference play averages 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocked shots.  He tied a career high with three rejections at OSU and has 15 blocks over the last nine games.  Griffin is averaging 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals over the last four outings.

Oklahoma trailed for just two minutes and 41 seconds of the first half.
Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan (21.4) and JamesOn Curry (19.1) averaged a combined 40.5 points per game entering the contest, but were held to 13 and 12 points, respectively.  Boggan’s five field goal attempts were a season low.
OU’s 16 turnovers tied for its most in Big 12 play.  Freshmen Tony Crocker (five) and Bobby Maze (four) combined for nine of the miscues.
The Sooners missed their last four 3-point attempts of the first half and their first nine attempts of the second half.
Seven of Nate Carter’s 11 rebounds were offensive.  OU scored 18 second-chance points to OSU’s nine.

One of the nation’s top defensive squads, Texas A&M had its nine-game winning streak snapped at Texas Tech on Wednesday, 70-68.  The Aggies enter Saturday’s game allowing 54.2 points a game (ranks second in the nation) and is holding their opponents to a .352 field goal mark (leads the country).  They have held all 19 of their foes to 70 points or less.  A&M also ranks as the Big 12’s best shooting team (.511) and best free throw shooting squad (.747).  Eight of its top nine scorers are shooting at least .500 from the field.

Texas A&M has started the same five players in all of their games.  Senior guard Acie Law, who scored 26 points at Texas Tech, averages 16.5 points, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals a contest, all team highs.  He is shooting .525 from the field, .435 from 3-point range and .753 from the foul line.  Junior center Joseph Jones averages 13.6 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds while shooting .571 from the floor.   Senior forward Antanas Kavaliauskas contributes 11.8 points and 5.6 boards a game and is shooting .594 from the floor.  Josh Carter, a sophomore guard, scores 11.7 points a game and ranks third in the Big 12 with his .490 3-point percentage (he has made 47 treys for a 2.5 average).  Junior guard Dominique Kirk supplies 6.8 points and 3.2 assists an outing.  

Billy Gillispie is in his third season as Texas A&M’s head coach and has compiled a 59-22 (.728) record at the school.  Gillispie compiled a two-year 30-32 record at UTEP before accepting the A&M job.
Oklahoma owns a 25-1 all-time record against Texas A&M and has won the series’ last 14 meetings.  OU is 10-1 all-time in games played in College Station.  The Sooners are 20-1 against the Aggies since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.  Texas A&M’s lone win against OU came on Feb. 24, 1999 (74-72).
Oklahoma posted its ninth regular season series sweep of Texas A&M in the 10-year history of the Big 12 Conference with 45-44 and 71-63 wins in College Station and Norman last year, respectively.  At College Station on Jan. 14, the Sooners avoided a 0-3 league start on Terrell Everett’s 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds remaining.  Everett, who finished with a game-high 15 points and scored OU’s final 10 points of the game, also hit a 15-foot fadeaway with 26 seconds left that drew the Sooners within two.  OU’s 45 points were the fewest by a winning Big 12 team in conference play in league history and the program’s fewest in victory since 1959.  Taj Gray added 13 points for Oklahoma while Acie Law led the Aggies with 14.

The teams met again just two weeks later as OU shot .500 from the field and outrebounded A&M 40-27 in the eight-point win.  Michael Neal was 4-for-9 from 3-point range and led all scorers with a then-career-high-tying 16 points while Everett had 15 points, Gray 13 and Kevin Bookout 11.  Joseph Jones paced the Aggies with 14 points while Law had 13 and Dominique Kirk had 12.  Texas A&M trailed by 14 with 6:18 remaining before closing to within three with 3:10 left.  The Aggies were 10-of-15 from 3-point range in the contest.    

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 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds (both team highs) in 29.0 minutes per contest over six league outings.  He is shooting .585 from the field and .850 from the free throw line in conference play, and leads the team with his 24 offensive rebounds (his 4.0 average ranks second in the league).  Over the last two games, he is averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting .591 from the field and going 19-for-19 at the free throw line.  Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 110 over the last six. 

Nate Carter scored 13 points in OU’s Big 12 opener at Texas Tech and has increased his scoring totals in each game since.  The lefty recorded 15 points versus Colorado, 18 at Texas, 19 against Nebraska, 22 versus Baylor and 23 at Oklahoma State.  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 four contests.  Carter, who began his career at UC Riverside, was the 2003 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned second-team all-league honors as a sophomore.  Last year he averaged 6.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.7 minutes a game for OU. 

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 9.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting .474 from the field and .789 from the free throw line in 26 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.

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 11.3 points per game, 7.1 rebounds (ranks eighth in Big 12) and 1.2 blocks (ranks 11th).  He also sports a .579 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).  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 53 more points this year (178) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).

Keith Clark
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, 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.

“This is a huge blow to our team,” said OU head coach Jeff Capel on Dec. 29.  “First of all, it’s a big blow to Keith.  He was just starting to play really well.  I thought he had his best game of the year against Tulsa (Dec. 21) and played very well against SMU before he got hurt.  He was making the jump to becoming a good college basketball player and I hate to see this happen to him.  His injury will give other players on our team an opportunity to step up and I’m sure they’re looking forward to that challenge.”

OU has had more than its fair share of success against Big 12 teams from the state of Texas.  The Sooners own a 124-45 (.734) all-time record against Baylor (30-5), Texas (45-23), Texas A&M (25-1) and Texas Tech (24-16).  Since the inception of the Big 12, OU is 21-0 against Baylor, 16-9 versus Texas, 20-1 against Texas A&M and 15-8 versus Texas Tech for a combined 72-18 (.800) record.

The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 57.4 points per game and .380 combined field goal percentage.  The last time OU gave up less than 57.4 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 .380 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 +7.4 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just once (Jan. 13 at Texas) in the last 14 contests.  The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 10-3 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-4 when it hasn’t.  In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 12.1 a game.  

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 six Big 12 games.  OU is averaging 12.2 turnovers per conference outing (ranks third in Big 12).  The Sooners are 8-1 this year when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents.

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 seven losses it is outboarding its foes by 0.1.
OU is shooting .498 from the field in its wins but only .397 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 -1.5 (81 and 118).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 5.7 points and 5.0 boards in their defeats.

OU leads the Big 12 in rebounding margin (+7.4), ranks second in scoring defense (57.4 ppg), third in field goal percentage defense (.380) and fifth in blocked shots (4.5 bpg).
Longar Longar ranks eighth in the conference in rebounding (7.1), fourth in offensive rebounding (2.8) and 11th in blocked shots (1.2).
Taylor Griffin ranks 11th in rebounding with his 6.6 boards a game and ranks 11th with his 4.3 defensive boards a contest.
Austin Johnson’s 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks third 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 1,441-915 (.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).

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.

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.



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