|Steven Pledger is averaging 21 points over the last five games.|
|Oklahoma (10-2) at. No. 7/6 Missouri (13-0)|
|Date & Tip Time||Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. CT|
|Location||Columbia, Mo. | Mizzou Arena|
|Tickets||OU Athletics Ticket Office|
Missouri Sports Network
|Radio|| Sooner Radio Network
KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
|Live Stats||SoonerSports.com GameTracker|
|Game Info||Game Notes (PDF)|
TUESDAY'S GAME BASICS
Oklahoma (10-2) and Missouri (13-0) open Big 12 Conference play Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. The Sooners, whose only loss in the last seven games came by one point at Cincinnati, are 3-2 away from home this season. Missouri, ranked No. 7 and 6 in the AP and coaches’ polls, is just one of four undefeated teams in the country (as of Sunday). Tuesday’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 Mizzou Sports Network (will be carried by FS Oklahoma Plus and ESPN Full Court) with Chris Gervino and Jon Sundvold calling the action.
FS OKLAHOMA PLUS CHANNEL LISTING
Bixby: BTC Broadband Ch. 52
Bartlesville: Cable One Ch. 77
Eastern Oklahoma: Cox Ch. 267
Oklahoma City: Cox Ch. 68 or 715 (HD)
Tahlequah: Tahlequah Cable Ch. 3
Tulsa: Cox Ch. 68 or 715 (HD)
AT&T U-verse: Ch. 754
DirecTV: Ch. 680 (Sports Pack required)
Dish Network: Ch. 445 (Sports Pack required)
• Picked to finish last (tied with Texas Tech) by Big 12 coaches in the league’s preseason poll, Oklahoma finished non-conference play with a 10-2 record (fourth best in the league).
• The Sooners are 8-7 in Big 12 openers, but have lost five of their last six.
• Oklahoma has been impressive defensively since sustaining its first loss of the season to Saint Louis in the 76 Classic championship game on Nov. 27. In its last seven games, OU has held opponents to an average of 59.4 points on .367 field goal and .257 3-point shooting. Those seven opponents have combined for a 56-39 record on the year.
• Out of 338 Division I teams, OU ranks No. 4 nationally in rebounds per game (42.2), No. 7 in offensive rebounds per game (16.1), No. 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.410), No. 41 in scoring (77.1 ppg) and No. 51 in free throw percentage (.730). OU also ranks in the top 10 with its +10.4 average rebounding margin.
• The Sooners have scored at least 75 points eight times in their 12 games (75 percent) after doing it seven times in its 32 contests last year (22 percent).
• OU has shot better than .500 from 3-point range in four of its last seven games.
• OU’s wins over Sacramento State (by 29 points), Coppin State (27), Arkansas (15), Washington State (15), Oral Roberts (14) and Houston (5) represent those teams’ largest margins of defeat this year. The Sooners also handed South Carolina State (35 points) its second worst defeat.
• The Sooners’ pressure defense under new head coach Lon Kruger has boosted the team’s offense through 11 games. Opponents have averaged 14.8 turnovers, resulting in 16.6 points per contest for OU on the other end of the floor. Foes haven’t been as opportunistic, averaging 12.2 points off the Sooners’ 13.3 turnovers per game.
• Rebounding was mentioned by head coach Lon Kruger several times in the preseason as a concern of his for 2011-12. However, OU has outboarded 11 of its 12 opponents and ranks in the top 10 nationally with its +10.4 margin per contest despite not starting anyone taller than 6-8. Included were a +34 effort against Coppin State (61-27) on Nov. 18 and a +27 performance against South Carolina State (63-36) on Dec. 21. The Sooners own a 193-139 offensive rebounding advantage on the year (despite shooting .454 to their opponents’ .395 mark)
PLEDGER OFF TO A SIZZLING START
• After averaging 8.6 points and shooting .386 from the field and .345 from long distance over his first two seasons, junior guard Steven Pledger is averaging 18.8 points this year and is shooting .550 from the field (leads Big 12 guards) and .484 from 3-point range (single-season school record is .473 by Tim Heskett in 1998-99). Pledger ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring (Texas’ J’Covan Brown averages 19.3 points) and No. 4 in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, 3-pointers per game (2.8) and free throw percentage (.850).
• To help put Pledger’s .550 field goal performance into perspective, the only OU guard since the start of the 3-point era in 1986-87 (25 years ago) to shoot at least .500 from the field over the course of an entire season was Nolan Johnson in 1999-00. Johnson shot .559 that year but only attempted two 3-point field goals and made none (shot .564 from inside the arc). Pledger is 31-for-64 from deep this year, meaning he’s shooting .615 (40-for-65) from 2-point range.
• Over the last five games, Pledger is averaging 20.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting .556 (35-for-63) from the field, .515 (17-for-33) from 3-point distance and .850 (17-for-20) from the free throw line. He recorded his first career double-double with 31 points and 10 boards in the Dec. 17 All-College Classic win over Houston.
• Pledger has scored in double figures in each of his 11 outings and has shot at least .500 from the field in eight games. He has scored at least 20 points five times after doing it three times all of last season.
• Pledger averaged 13.6 points per 40 minutes last season but has significantly increased that projection this year (24.6).
• Pledger has made 71 field goals this year, already putting him at 63 percent of last year’s total (112).
MORE INDIVIDUAL NOTES
• Junior guard Sam Grooms has been strong at the point, ranking No. 3 in the Big 12 in assists (5.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5). He has recorded one or zero turnovers five times in 12 games and ranks second on the team in minutes (28.8). Over the last four outings, Grooms has 27 assists (6.8 average) and 9 turnovers (3.0 ratio).
• Junior forward Romero Osby leads the Big 12 with his 3.2 offensive rebounds per game and ranks third with his 8.8 overall boards per outing. He has recorded at least 10 rebounds on six occasions this year (his career high entering the season was eight). He has 35 boards over the last three games (11.7 average), including a career-high 18 vs. South Carolina State on Dec. 21.
• Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games (averaging 15.0 during stretch on .529 shooting) after doing it just twice in OU’s first five outings (averaged 8.4 points on .400 shooting). He has scored at least 13 points in six of the last seven games.
• OU’s lone senior on scholarship, forward C.J. Washington has provided a big lift off the bench the last three games. During that span, he is averaging 4.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in only 11.0 minutes per contest. Projected to 40 minutes per game, those scoring and rebounding averages jump to 15.8 and 23.0, respectively. Nine of Washington’s 19 rebounds during the stretch have been offensive. He also recorded career highs with 3 blocks and 3 steals against Northwestern State on Saturday.
• OU’s win over Northwestern State leaves Lon Kruger just 11 victories shy of 500 for his career. He ranks second among current Big 12 head coaches with 489 career wins (Texas’ Rick Barnes has 534 victories).
CLEANING THE GLASS
• OU leads the Big 12 in rebounding margin at +10.4 (Texas A&M ranks second at +8.2), rebounds per game at 42.2 (ranks No. 4 nationally), offensive rebounds per game at 16.5 (ranks No. 7 nationally) and offensive rebounding percentage at 45 percent.
• The Sooners have outrebounded 11 of their 12 opponents. Washington State outboarded them by three (35-32).
• Oklahoma’s top two rebounding totals of the 16-year Big 12 era have been recorded this year (63 vs. S.C. State and 61 vs. Coppin State).
• OU has pulled down double-digit offensive rebounds in all but the Sacramento State game (nine) and is averaging 16.1 offensive boards per contest to its opponents’ 11.6. The Sooners are averaging 14.3 second-chance points while foes are averaging 10.7.
• The Sooners are averaging 7.6 more offensive rebounds per game this year than last (16.1 to 8.5) despite shooting a higher field goal percentage this year (.454 to .448).
• Ranked No. 8 in both major polls last week, 13-0 Missouri is one of four undefeated teams in the country and is off to its best start since the 1981-82 season when it began 19-0. The Tigers lead the country in field goal percentage (.517) and rank No. 3 nationally in scoring (86.2 ppg), No. 4 in steals (10.1 spg), No. 7 in free throw percentage (.766) and No. 13 in 3-point field goal percentage (.404). They are 8-0 at home (have won those contests by an average of 28.4 points) and have won 25 of their last 26 at Mizzou Arena.
• Missouri is led by the senior backcourt tandem of Marcus Denmon and Kim English. Denmon averages 18.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting .500 from the field, .448 from 3-point range and .909 from the free throw line. He ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring and second in 3-pointers per game (3.0). English averages 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting .528 from the field, .524 from 3-point range (ranks first nationally; minimum 2.5 makes per game) and .717 from the foul line.
• Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe leads the country with his .761 field goal percentage, and averages 14.2 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game. Despite his shooting success from the field, he owns a .576 free throw percentage.
• Sophomore point guard Phil Pressey averages 9.8 points and Big 12 highs of 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He also paces the league with his 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio
• Junior guard Michael Dixon comes off the bench to average 12.5 points and 3.0 assists in 25.9 minutes a game. He is averaging 18.0 points over the last four contests. He ranks 12th in the country with his .912 season free throw percentage.
• Head coach Frank Haith is in his first year at Missouri after guiding Miami (Fla.) to a 129-101 (.561) record the last seven seasons.
OU-MISSOURI SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma leads 112-95 in the all-time series with Missouri, but the Tigers hold a 60-29 advantage in Columbia. MU has won seven of the last 11 overall meetings since OU rattled off nine straight victories from 1998 to 2002 (the nine-game streak culminated with an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight win in San Jose, Calif.). The Sooners have lost five straight in Columbia by an average of 8.8 points. OU’s last win there came in 2001 (63-61 at the Hearnes Center) on Jameel Heywood’s buzzer-beater.
LAST YEAR VS. THE TIGERS
The Sooners committed 18 turnovers to Missouri’s seven and dropped an 84-61 decision in Columbia last year in the teams’ only meeting. Nine different Tigers scored at least six points, led by Michael Dixon’s 16 and Ricardo Ratliffe’s 13. Cameron Clark led OU in scoring with 16 points (added five rebounds) and was followed by Tyler Neal’s 14 points (second-highest total of the season) and Steven Pledger’s 10. Point guard Carl Blair contributed six points and team highs of nine rebounds and four assists.
SATURDAY’S NORTHWESTERN STATE RECAP
• Oklahoma shot .564 from the field, .600 (3-for-5) from 3-point range and .818 (18-for-22) from the free throw line in an 83-63 home win over Northwestern State on Saturday. It held the Demons to .367 field goal and .250 (6-for-24) 3-point shooting.
• OU led 40-29 at halftime but Northwestern State cut the margin to two (48-46) with 12:30 remaining. The Sooners responded with a 19-3 run to regain command.
• The Sooners committed a season-high 18 turnovers but outrebounded the Demons 38-30.
• Junior forward Romero Osby scored a career-high 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting and added 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
• Junior guard Steven Pledger also netted 18 points (3-for-5 3-point shooting) and handed out 5 assists.
• Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald scored 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting in only 17 minutes (foul trouble).
• Junior point guard Sam Grooms tallied 11 points (one shy of career high) on 5-for-7 shooting and added 4 assists in 23 minutes.
• Senior forward C.J. Washington came off the bench to supply 8 points, 5 rebounds and career highs of 3 blocks and 3 steals in just 14 minutes. He was 4-for-5 from the field.
SOONER TIP INS
• Oklahoma has recorded 39 dunks in its 12 games (3.3 average) and junior forward Romero Osby has 21 of them (54 percent).
• Osby has grabbed at least six rebounds in 10 of 12 games this year. In his 35 games at Mississippi State as a sophomore in 2009-10, Osby pulled down at least six boards on three occasions.
• Osby leads the team with five charges taken and is followed by Andrew Fitzgerald (four).
• Last year, Steven Pledger averaged 15.4 points in OU’s wins and 7.4 points in its losses. This year, the junior guard is averaging 20.6 points in wins and 11.0 in defeats.
• Oklahoma and Texas are the only two Big 12 schools who have eight players each averaging at least 3.0 rebounds.
The Sooners play their Big 12 home opener against Kansas on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPNU.