Oklahoma (5-3) will try to improve to 5-1 at home this year when it hosts UT Arlington (3-4) on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Lloyd Noble Center. The game will be OU’s first since last Saturday’s 64-47 victory over Coppin State. UT Arlington has had an even longer layoff, not playing since a 74-57 loss at Western Illinois on Dec. 4.
Saturday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC-AM 1520 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr., and Mike Houck calling the action. The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KWTV Ch. 9/Cox 10 in OKC; KQCW Cox 12 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour announcing. Additionally, an Internet webcast on SoonerSports.com will be available (an O-Zone subscription is required).
Date: Saturday, Dec. 16
Tip: 7:08 p.m. CST
TV: Sooner Sports Network
Stations: KWTV Ch. 9, Cox 10 (OKC); KQCW Cox 12 (Tulsa); ESPN Full Court
Radio: Sooner Radio Network
Flagship: KOKC 1520 AM (OKC)
Webcast: O-Zone on SoonerSports.com
Series: OU leads 4-0
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $15 (north and south) and $20 (east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office this week (800-456-4668). Lloyd Noble Center’s north and east ticket windows will open Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Family packs are available for Saturday’s game. For $10 per person, fans receive a game ticket, hot dog, soft drink and a coupon for a free t-shirt. A minimum purchase of four tickets is required and must be bought prior to the day of the game.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on the upper concourse from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to visit and take pictures with fans. The first 500 visitors will receive a free OU stocking.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, former point guard Terry Evans (1990-93) will be recognized at halftime.
UT ARLINGTON PROJECTED STARTERS
F 3 Jermaine Griffin (6-9, 240, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
F 32 Anthony Vereen (6-7, 230, So., 14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
F 45 Larry Posey (6-5, 250, Jr., 9.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
G 13 Rodrick Epps (6-2, 180, Jr., 11.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
G 23 Brandon Long (6-1, 180, So., 8.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G 15 David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 10.6 ppg, 1.8 apg)
The Sooners rebounded from a loss to Villanova, their first in non-conference play at home in seven years, with a 64-47 win over Coppin State last Saturday. It was Oklahoma’s 12th win against the Eagles without a loss. Leading 29-24 at halftime, OU watched Coppin State score the first six points of the second half to go up 30-29. The Sooners stiffened, however, and held the Eagles to 4-for-20 field goal shooting the rest of the way while mounting a pair of 10-0 runs to move to 5-3 on the season.
Sophomore guard Austin Johnson, who came off the bench for the first time this season last Saturday due to illness, ranks third on the squad with his 10.6 points a game and averages a team-high 3.9 assists. He has made a team-high 14 treys and is shooting .412 from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Tony Crocker averages 8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting .517 from the floor. Crocker is averaging 12.8 points, 4.4 boards, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals in OU’s five home games. Junior David Godbold, another guard, averages 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Oklahoma is outscoring its opponents by 14.8 points a game on the season (69.9 to 55.1) and averages 7.0 more rebounds a contest
(37.4 to 30.4).
COPPIN STATE LEFTOVERS
Freshman guard Bobby Maze saw his first regular season action after sustaining a broken foot Nov. 8. He entered the game with 15:05 left in the second half and contributed two points, three rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes. OU outscored Coppin State 22-9 while he was in the game.
Taylor Griffin, who had scored three points in each of the previous two games and was held scoreless in the first half against Coppin State, netted eight points in a span of a minute and 51 seconds in the second half against the Eagles.
OU shot .510 from the floor, marking the first time since the season opener against Norfolk State (.585) it shot better than .500.
The Sooners did not allow a field goal the final 6:09 of the game.
UT ARLINGTON UPDATE
UT Arlington will play its first game in 12 days on Saturday. The Mavericks started the season 3-1 with wins against Tyler, North Texas and UT Pan American, but have dropped their last three contests, all on the road. Among their four losses was an 89-87 double-overtime decision at TCU, a squad Oklahoma beat 63-35. UTA is shooting .497 from the field, .331 from 3-point range and .628 from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting .439 from the floor and .345 from beyond the arc.
Sophomore forward Anthony Vereen leads the Mavericks with his 14.1 points a game and ranks second with 5.9 rebounds a contest in an average of 24.4 minutes. Vereen is shooting .630 from the field and gets to the free throw line for 5.7 attempts per outing. Junior forward Jermaine Griffin averages 12.1 points and a team-high 6.1 boards per game while shooting a remarkable .729 from the field (35-for-48). Junior guard Rodrick Epps contributes 11.0 points and 3.0 assists a game while freshman guard Ro’ger Guignard averages 8.9 points and a team-high 3.3 assists. Guignard has made a team-high 15 treys on the year and is shooting .357 from long range.
Scott Cross is in his first season as a collegiate head coach after serving the past eight seasons as a UT Arlington assistant coach. A three-year letterwinner at UTA who graduated in 1998, Cross averaged 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a senior. He was a two-time Academic All-American.
UT ARLINGTON SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma is 4-0 in its series with UT Arlington with all four of those games played in Norman. The Sooners posted wins in 1997-98 (81-63), 1986-87 (101-76), 1976-77 (71-64) and 1968-69 (89-57). The three most recent games were played at Lloyd Noble Center while the first was played at the OU Field House.
OU’s Corey Brewer ruled the court in the last meeting by registering 18 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots.
Freshman guard Bobby Maze made his Oklahoma debut last Saturday against Coppin State after missing the first seven games with a broken right foot he sustained Nov. 8 in practice. In 11 minutes of second-half action, the 6-3, 175-pounder posted two points, three rebounds and two assists. OU outscored Coppin State 22-9 while he was in the game.
From Suitland, Md., Maze played a total of 29 minutes in OU’s two exhibition games without scoring. He averaged 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot. Maze attended The Patterson School (N.C.) last year and was rated as the No. 135 overall player in the 2007 recruiting class by Rivals.com.
LONGAR FINALLY GETTING HIS CHANCE
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 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per outing. He also paces the team with nine blocked shots and a .623 field goal mark.
Longar, who was born in Sudan and attended high school in Rochester, Minn., is averaging 15.3 points and 9.3 boards over the last four games. Included was a 24-point, career-high 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 last Saturday. Longar also scored 21 points against Liberty in the second game of the season (Nov. 16).
Longar already has more points (108) and rebounds (59) this year than he did all of last year (48 points and 43 boards).
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following are some notes about Oklahoma’s play at Lloyd Noble Center through five games this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 46.6 points a contest. Only Villanova (67) has scored more than 50 points in a game.
The Sooners are shooting .500 at home while opponents have shot .333.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 39.0 to 28.8 count (+10.2).
All three of Tony Crocker’s double-digit scoring games have come at Lloyd Noble (he also has a nine-point game). He is averaging 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists at home while shooting .553 from the field. He scored 15 points against Norfolk State, 18 versus Liberty and 19 against Villanova.
Austin Johnson is shooting .556 from 3-point range (10-for-18).
Opponents have racked up 93 turnovers to just 34 assists.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its five wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 13.8 a game. In its three losses it is getting outboarded by 4.3.
Opponents are shooting just .314 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .468 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.2 (79 assists and 66 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.8 (36 and 63).
Longar Longar is averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 8.0 points and 5.0 boards in their defeats.
Interestingly, OU is shooting .649 from the free throw line in its wins compared to .796 in its losses.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (55.1 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.372), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.313) and rebounding margin (+7.0). It also ranks third in free throw percentage (.707).
Michael Neal leads the conference with his .944 free throw percentage.
Longar Longar ranks 17th in the conference in scoring (13.5 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (.623), eighth in rebounding (7.4) and third in offensive rebounding (3.4).
Taylor Griffin (13th) and David Godbold (14th) rank in the top 15 in rebounding with their 6.3 and 6.0 respective averages.
Austin Johnson’s 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fifth in the conference.
SOONER QUICK TIPS
Longar Longar already has 108 points this season, more than twice as many as last year’s total of 48.
Twenty-seven of Longar’s 59 rebounds this season (46 percent) have come on the offensive end of the floor. Nate Carter has plucked 12 of his 23 rebounds (52 percent) off the offensive glass.
Oklahoma shot .769 from the free throw line over its first four games but owns just a .368 mark (7-for-19) over the last two outings. Longar began the season by making his first nine free throw attempts. Since then he is 3-for-12 (.250).
Over the last three games, Taylor Griffin is averaging 4.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.0 minutes. The sophomore forward averaged 9.4 and 8.2 rebounds in 25.8 minutes over OU’s first five contests.
The Sooners are 5-0 in games they’ve outrebounded their opponent and 0-3 when they haven’t.
David Godbold is the only Sooner who averages more than 30.0 minutes a game (he averages 30.6).
HOME IS WHERE THE “W” IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 35 of the last 38 games and 83 of the last 90 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 401-66 (.859) 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.
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 1,434-912 (.611) all-time record and a 402-66 (.859) 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.