Oklahoma (9-6, 1-2) hosts Nebraska (11-4, 0-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners, who are 7-1 at home this season, are coming off an 80-69 loss at No. 25 Texas on Saturday while Nebraska lost its last game, a 71-62 defeat at Iowa State last Wednesday. The Huskers’ scheduled home game against Oklahoma State on Saturday was postponed because bad weather prevented OSU from traveling to Lincoln.
Wednesday’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 the Sooner Sports Network (Cox 7 in OKC; KQCW Cox 12 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour announcing. Additionally, an Internet webcast here on SoonerSports.com will be available (an O-Zone subscription is required).
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 17
Tip: 7:08 p.m. CST
TV: Sooner Sports Network (Cox 7 in OKC; KQCW Cox 12 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC)
Series: OU leads 102-80
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $10 (north and south) and $25 (east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office this week (800-456-4668) and here at SoonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center’s north and east ticket windows will open Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, former center Clifford Ray (1969-71) will be recognized at halftime.
OU owns a 58-20 (.744) all-time home record against Nebraska and is 22-4 (.846) against the Huskers at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners have won 38 of their last 41 home games and 86 of their last 93.
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but leads OU with his 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over the team’s three conference outings.
Tony Crocker (10.9 ppg) is looking to become just the second OU true freshman in the last 23 years to average double figures in scoring.
In its nine wins, OU is holding its foes to a .325 field goal mark. Only one of those nine opponents has shot better than .370.
All nine of the Sooners’ wins have been by double digits.
Longar Longar will serve the second of a two-game Big 12 suspension on Wednesday.
NEBRASKA PROJECTED STARTERS
C 21 Aleks Maric (6-11, 270, Jr., 18.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
G 1 Sek Henry (6-3, 180, Fr., 8.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G 3 Charles Richardson (5-9, 165, Sr., 8.5 ppg, 6.1 apg)
G 5 Jay-R Strowbridge (6-0, 180, Fr., 4.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
G 31 Jamel White (6-3, 190, So., 10.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 10.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 9.2 ppg, 3.3 apg)
With Longar Longar the team’s leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg) on the season benched by the Big 12 Conference, the Sooners fell for the third time in three road games this year when they lost 80-69 at No. 25 Texas on Saturday. The Longhorns became the first team this year to shoot .500 or better against OU (they shot .547) and also became the first team since Purdue on Nov. 21 to outrebound the Sooners (34-23). The Sooners committed a season-low eight turnovers and had just one in the second half, but Kevin Durant (28) and A.J. Abrams (20) combined for 48 points to help UT improve to 10-0 at home.
Senior forward Nate Carter scored 18 points and pulled down six rebounds in his first start of the season (in place of Longar) at Texas. Carter was 7-for-10 from the field and made all four of his free throw attempts as he scored his most points ever in an OU uniform. The performance came one game after registering 15 points and eight boards in the Sooners’ 78-54 win over Colorado. Carter has seen his playing time increase dramatically following the Dec. 28 season-ending knee injury to freshman Keith Clark. In three Big 12 games, Carter averages team-highs in points (15.3) and rebounds (7.7) while shooting .563 from the field in 27.0 minutes a game. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes a contest prior to league play.
Guard Tony Crocker, one of the Big 12’s top freshmen, averaged 11.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in OU’s two games last week. He was was 13-for-15 from the free throw line against Colorado and scored a team-high 16 points. On the year, Crocker is averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting .806 from the foul line. Crocker has been especially effective over the past nine games, averaging 12.9 points (the most by an OU player during the span), 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Senior guard Michael Neal is averaging 9.4 points, 3.0 boards and 2.0 assists per outing while shooting .824 from the free throw line. Neal, who shot .495 from 3-point range in Big 12 games last season when he was league newcomer of the year, has been held to a .247 3-point mark this season but is 5-for-10 from long distance over the past two games. Sophomore guard Austin Johnson averages 9.2 points a game and leads the team with his 3.3 assists. Johnson also leads the squad with his .370 season 3-point percentage (20-for-54). Another guard, junior David Godbold averages 7.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest while draining a team-high 23 treys . Godbold has come off the bench in each of the last seven games but ranks second on the team with his 27.4 minutes per outing.
Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin, who has started 14 of 15 games, contributes 7.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shot a contest. He has at least one block in each of the last nine games and is coming off a 15-point effort at Texas on Saturday.
Taylor Griffin’s 15 points were one shy of his career high (posted Nov. 20 against Memphis). He also pulled down six boards against Texas while adding two assists, two blocks and two steals without a turnover in a career-high 35 minutes of action.
Michael Neal’s three 3-pointers were his most in seven games and his 13 points were his most in six outings.
Only seven Sooners played in the game, a season low.
Oklahoma ended the game on a 17-1 run.
The loss dropped Oklahoma’s all-time record against Texas to 45-23 (16-13 in Austin).
Wednesday’s game will mark Nebraska’s first in a week as the Huskers’ Saturday home contest against Oklahoma State will be rescheduled (bad weather prevented OSU from leaving for Lincoln). Nebraska is 8-0 at home this year, 0-3 in true road games and 3-1 at neutral sites. One of the better shooting teams in the Big 12, NU is shooting .510 from the field, .404 from 3-point range and .721 from the free throw line. It lost its only Big 12 game, 71-62 at Iowa State last week, despite leading 30-27 at halftime.
Junior center Aleks Maric is one of the league’s top big men, as he is averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting a Big 12-best .622 from the field. At Iowa State last Wednesday, Maric posted 20 points and 13 boards while going 6-for-10 at the foul line. Freshman guard Ryan Anderson, who scored two points in nine minutes against the Cyclones, ranks second on the team with his 12.5 scoring and 5.0 rebounding averages. Anderson drained seven 3-pointers and finished with 29 points against Hawaii on Dec. 22. It was the second best scoring output ever by a Nebraska freshman. Sophomore guard Jamel White averages 10.4 points and 3.1 assists while shooting .848 from the foul line. He was 3-for-5 from 3-point range against Iowa State. Freshman guard Sek Henry averages 8.7 points a game, senior point guard Charles Richardson averages 8.5 points and 6.1 assists (ranks second in Big 12) and senior guard Marcus Perry averages 8.2 points while shooting a team-high .473 from 3-point range.
Head coach Doc Sadler is in his first year at Nebraska and owns a 59-22 (.728) career record in his third season. He was 48-18 (.727) at UTEP over the last two years.
OKLAHOMA-NEBRASKA SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma holds a 102-80 (.560) series lead against Nebraska, including a 58-20 (.744) advantage in Norman. The Sooners had won seven straight in the series before losing twice to the Huskers last season. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, OU is 8-4 against Nebraska and 4-1 in Norman. The Huskers’ last win at Lloyd Noble Center came on Jan. 20, 1999 (96-81).
LAST YEAR AGAINST THE HUSKERS
Nebraska snapped a seven-game losing streak to Oklahoma over a six-year period by earning two victories against the Sooners last year. In the Big 12 opener for both teams, the Huskers hit two 3-pointers in the final 23 seconds the second by Joe McCray with 5.6 seconds remaining to overcome a five-point deficit in the last minute. Terrell Everett’s running five-footer at the buzzer was off the mark for OU. The Sooners outshot the Huskers (.453 to .385) and outrebounded them (38-28). Kevin Bookout had 14 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma while David Godbold netted 13 and Everett 11. Michael Neal did not play due to a strained groin. Jason Dourisseau paced the Huskers with 17 points while Charles Richardson had 15 points and four assists.
The teams squared off again in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals in Dallas, with sixth-seeded Nebraska pulling off a 69-63 upset over No. 3 seed OU. The Huskers outrebounded the Sooners by a 36-30 count (it was Oklahoma’s second largest deficit of the year) after OU led 11-2 on the boards early in the game. NU also went 25-for-32 from the free throw line while the Sooners were just 6-for-10. Jamel White paced Nebraska with 22 points while three other Huskers netted 10 each. Everett had 14 points and nine assists for Oklahoma but had to sit eight minutes in the second half due to foul trouble. Austin Johnson was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and added 12 points. It marked the first time since 1999 that OU lost its opening round Big 12 game.
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.
Ranked the No. 57 player in the 2006 national recruiting class by Rivals.com, 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."
CARTER STEPS UP
Senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since Keith Clark was lost for the season. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to Big 12 play starting, is averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds (both team highs) in 27.0 minutes per contest over three league outings. Clark posted 13 points and nine rebounds at Texas Tech, 15 points and eight boards versus Colorado and 18 points and six rebounds at Texas. He is shooting .576 from the field in Big 12 play and leads the team with his 10 offensive rebounds in those 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. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.7 minutes a game last year for the Sooners.
Tony Crocker is having one of the more memorable freshman campaigns in recent OU memory. The guard is the only Sooner who has started every game and owns season averages of 10.9 points (ranks second on team), 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a team-high 1.2 steals (in 26.5 minutes a game) while shooting .483 from the field and .806 from the free throw line. He ranks sixth among Big 12 freshmen in scoring.
Crocker, who is averaging 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds over the last nine games, 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.
LONGAR CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITY
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 12.0 points per game, 7.1 rebounds (ranks seventh in Big 12) and 1.3 blocks (ranks 11th), as well as with his .576 field goal mark (ranks fourth).
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 41 more points this year (168) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
Oklahoma ranks third in the Big 12 Conference with its +6.8 rebounding margin per game (Texas is at +8.7 and Kansas is at +7.4). The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 8-2 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-4 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 11.7 a game. OU has been outrebounded just once (Saturday at Texas) since the fourth game of the season (Nov. 21 versus Purdue).
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 38 of the last 41 games and 86 of the last 93 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 405-66 (.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.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following are some notes about Oklahoma through eight games of play at Lloyd Noble Center this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 48.6 points a contest (five foes have scored less than 50 points). It is outscoring its opponents 73.4 to 48.6 at Lloyd Noble Center (a margin of 24.8 points a game).
The Sooners are shooting .499 at home while opponents have shot .343.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 39.1 to 29.0 count (+10.1).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting .620 from the field.
Six of Tony Crocker’s eight double-digit scoring games have come at Lloyd Noble (he also has a nine-point game in the building). He is averaging 14.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists at home while shooting .541 from the field. He scored 15 points against Norfolk State, 18 versus Liberty, 19 against Villanova, 18 versus UT Arlington, 14 against SMU and 16 vs. Colorado.
Austin Johnson is shooting .469 from 3-point range (15-for-32).
Opponents have racked up 148 turnovers (18.5 average) to just 67 assists (8.4 assists).
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its nine wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 11.7 a game. In its six losses it is getting outboarded by 0.5.
OU is shooting .492 from the field in its wins but only .399 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .325 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .472 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.1 (141 assists and 123 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.5 (68 and 102).
Longar Longar is averaging 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 6.4 points and 5.2 boards in their defeats.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (57.5 ppg), third in rebounding margin (+6.8), third in field goal percentage defense (.384) and fifth in blocked shots (4.6 bpg).
Longar Longar ranks fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (.576), seventh in rebounding (7.0), fourth in offensive rebounding (3.0) and 11th in blocked shots (1.3).
Taylor Griffin ranks 11th in rebounding with his 6.7 boards a game and ranks 10th with his 4.6 defensive boards a contest.
Austin Johnson’s 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth 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 1,438-915 (.611) all-time record and a 405-66 (.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).
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.