The Jeff Capel era officially begins Friday night when Oklahoma hosts Norfolk State at 7:08 inside Lloyd Noble Center. The game will mark the start of the regular season for both teams. The Sooners are coming off home exhibition wins over Oklahoma Christian (79-51) and Central Missouri (74-69) while the Spartans have not played an exhibition game. This will mark the first meeting between the two schools.
Tip: 7:08 p.m. CST
TV: Sooner Sports Network
Stations: KAUT Ch. 43, Cox 16 (OKC);
Cox 3 (Tulsa); ESPN Full Court
Radio: Sooner Radio Network
Flagship: KOKC 1520 AM (OKC)
Webcast: O-Zone on SoonerSports.com
Series: First meeting
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 Friday at 5:30 p.m.
The first 1,500 fans will receive a basketball schedule magnet and the first 1,000 OU students will receive a “100th Year of Basketball” t-shirt.
As part of the celebration of the 100th year of basketball at OU, Mytle Drake will be honored at halftime. She is the wife of the late Bruce Drake, an All-America guard at OU and a Hall-of-Fame coach who took the Sooners to the 1939 and 1947 Final Fours.
NORFOLK STATE PROJECTED STARTERS (2005-06 Averages)
F 22 Tynell Dunkley (6-6, 225, Sr., 4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
F 23 Corey Lyons (6-4, 185, So., 3.6 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
C 42 Calvin Brown (6-9, 255, Sr., 9.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
G 5 Tony Murphy (6-4, 220, Jr., 15.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G 10 Rashid Cann (6-0, 185, Jr., 0.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS (Exhibition Averages)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 8.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 12.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 11.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G 15 David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 8.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Oklahoma is coming off a 20-9 season that saw it finish in third place in the Big 12 with an 11-5 record. OU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons but dropped an 82-74 decision to UW-Milwaukee in the first round.
The Sooners, who lost a trio of seniors (Kevin Bookout, Terrell Everett and Taj Gray) who each started all 29 games last year, return 44 percent of their scoring, 45 percent of their rebounding and 45 percent of their assists from 2005-06. OU’s two returning starters are senior guard Michael Neal and junior guard David Godbold. Neal was named Big 12 Rookie of the Year after averaging a team-high 14.8 points in league play while shooting .495 from 3-point range. Godbold, the team’s leader in career games played (57) and starts (35), averaged 5.7 points and 3.2 rebounds a game last season.
Also back from last season are senior forward Nate Carter (6.0 ppg), sophomore forward Taylor Griffin (3.1 ppg), sophomore guard Austin Johnson (3.1 ppg), junior center Longar Longar (2.1 ppg) and senior guards Chris Walker (1.1 ppg) and Kellen Sampson (0.3 ppg). A quartet of freshmen comprise OU’s class of newcomers. Forward Keith Clark was a top-75 national recruit, guard Tony Crocker was a top-100 signee and guard Bobby Maze was ranked No. 135 by Rivals.com. Forward Beau Gerber is a walk-on who was a first-team Class 5A All-State selection in Kansas last year.
NEAL TO MISS SOONERS’ FIRST TWO GAMES
The University of Oklahoma athletics department announced Tuesday that Michael Neal will be required to sit out two regular season contests due to a secondary violation involving a summer basketball league.
“Unfortunately, Michael participated in a league that was outside of the 100-mile radius from his residence, as defined by the NCAA,” said OU head coach Jeff Capel. “He will sit out our upcoming games against Norfolk State and Liberty. He is a valuable contributor to our team and we look forward to him being back in the lineup soon.”
EXHIBITION 1: OU 79, OKLAHOMA CHRISTIAN 51
His first time roaming the Oklahoma sideline, head coach Jeff Capel watched his frontcourt help power the Sooners to a 79-51 win over visiting NAIA foe Oklahoma Christian Halloween night in exhibition action at Lloyd Noble Center. OU received a team-high 18 points from freshman forward Keith Clark, 15 points and six rebounds from junior center Longar Longar and 10 points and seven boards from sophomore forward Taylor Griffin. Junior guard David Godbold contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 27 minutes of action.
The Sooners turned in solid shooting marks of .471 from the field and .409 (9-for-22) from 3-point distance, but struggled at the free throw line with their .429 (6-for-14) performance. OU excelled at taking care of the basketball and committed only six turnovers (just one in the second half).
The Sooners used 23-for-25 second-half free throw shooting to help overcome a 26-22 halftime deficit in their 74-69 win over NCAA Division II foe Central Missouri on Sunday in Norman. OU shot just .356 from the field and .200 from 3-point range (3-for-15), and committed 20 turnovers. A 48-38 rebounding advantage aided Jeff Capel’s squad, as did a 29-for-32 free throw effort. OU was 10-for-10 from the line in the final minute of the game.
Senior forward Nate Carter, who missed Oklahoma’s first exhibition game with a strained groin, came off the bench to supply 18 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. He made all eight of his free throw attempts. Junior center Longar Longar also logged a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards. Freshman guard Tony Crocker started and registered 14 points while sophomore guard Austin Johnson had 13 points (all in the second half). Like Carter, Johnson was 8-for-8 from the foul line. Central Missouri is the preseason favorite in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
ABOUT NORFOLK STATE
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member Norfolk State heads to Norman on the heels of a 13-18 season last year. The Spartans posted a 10-8 record in the MEAC, good for a fifth-place tie, and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals for the first time since 2001 (they lost to eventual champion Hampton). NSU returns four players who started at least 22 games in 2005-06.
Leading the way for Norfolk State in 2006-07 will be junior guard Tony Murphy. A first-team All-MEAC pick after averaging 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 32.9 minutes a game last year, Murphy converted 61 3-point attempts (2.0 per game). Senior Calvin Brown, a center who started 27 games and shot .605 from the field, ranked second on the squad in scoring with his 9.5 average and also contributed 5.6 boards per outing. Senior forward Tynell Dunkley started 22 games and averaged 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds on the year. Senior guard Al’Davon Thomas started 26 games and averaged 6.2 points, 3.1 boards and a team-high 3.0 assists. Thomas, however, is ineligible until the conclusion of the fall semester.
Dwight Freeman is in his fifth season as Norfolk’s State head coach and owns a 53-64 record (.453) there. He has led the Spartans to a MEAC record of 10-8 or better each of the last four years. He is in his ninth year as a collegiate coach and owns a 98-129 career record (.432). He served as the head coach at Marshall for four years (1991-94) and posted a 46-65 mark (.414).
The Sooners’ regular season opener against Norfolk State (Nov. 10) marks their earliest game ever played on the calendar. Prior to this year, the earliest regular season game in school history was played Nov. 12, 2001, against Central Connecticut in Norman (OU won 66-44).
The Sooners have won 19 of their last 21 season-opening games with their only losses during the span coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94. OU has won 26 of its last 27 home openers.
Junior guard David Godbold has started more games at Oklahoma by far than any of his teammates. The Oklahoma City product has 35 starts in 57 games over the previous two seasons. Sophomore guard Austin Johnson is second with just 13 career starts. Senior guard Michael Neal ranks third with 10 starts and is followed by fellow senior guard Chris Walker (seven), senior forward Nate Carter (four) and junior center Longar Longar (one). That’s only 70 career starts among all OU players.
Kevin Bookout, Terrell Everett and Taj Gray each started 29 games last year as seniors. The trio finished its career with 229 combined starts (four seasons for Bookout and two each for Everett and Gray) and last year accounted for 55 percent of the team’s points, 55 percent of its rebounds and 55 percent of its assists.
The 2006-07 season marks the 100th 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 enter their first season under Jeff Capel with a 1,429-909 (.611) all-time record and a 398-65 (.860) record 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).
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.
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.
THANKSGIVING IN HAWAII
Oklahoma will spend Thanksgiving week in Lahaina, Hawaii, at the eight-team EA Sports Maui Invitational. All three of OU’s games (Nov. 20-22) will be televised by the ESPN family of networks. The Sooners play the tournament’s first game against Memphis at 1:30 p.m. CST (9:30 a.m. in Hawaii) and will face either Georgia Tech or Purdue in the second round. OU’s third-round opponent will be DePaul, Kentucky, UCLA or host Chaminade.
It will mark OU’s third trip to the Maui Invitational and 10th time it has participated in a tournament in the Aloha State. The Sooners were runners-up in the 1988 Maui Invitational and finished fifth in 1992 (they went 2-1 both times). They also competed in the Big Island Invitational in 1997 (1-2 record) and 2000 (3-0), the Chaminade Classic in 1984 (1-1) and 1987 (3-0), the Hawaii-Loa Tournament in 1985 (2-0) and the Rainbow Classic in 1982 (2-1) and 1994 (1-2).
HOME IS WHERE THE “W” IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 31 of the last 33 games and 79 of the last 85 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 398-65 (.860) in the building since it opened prior to 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 NON-CONFERENCE RULE
The Sooners have won 46 straight non-conference home games and 54 of their last 55. The 46 consecutive home non-conference wins gives them the longest current streak in the country (tied with Illinois). Cincinnati is the last non-conference opponent to hand OU a loss inside Lloyd Noble Center, a 72-57 outcome on Dec. 22, 1999.
Trailing Oklahoma and Illinois in consecutive home non-conference wins are Duke (41), Utah State (37), Sam Houston State (28) and Tennessee-Martin (28).
Oklahoma posted a 20-9 record in 2005-06 and went 11-5 in the Big 12 for a third-place finish. OU, which was ranked in the AP's top 25 all season, reached the 20-win plateau for the ninth straight year. Following is a list of notes and accomplishments from the 2005-06 campaign.
The 20-win season marked the 10th in the last 12 seasons for Oklahoma.
The Sooners reached 11 wins in Big 12 play for the eighth time in the last nine seasons.
OU ranked No. 4 nationally with its +8.9 rebounding margin.
Oklahoma won four straight games, all by one point, in late February. Based on polling of the country’s media relations directors, it is believed to be the first time a current Division I school ever accomplished the feat. OU played in seven one-point games and won five of them.
Terrell Everett averaged 6.9 assists per game to lead the Big 12 and rank third in the nation.
Michael Neal set a Big 12 record by averaging 3.9 3-point makes per league contest.
Taj Gray finished his career ranked No. 3 in OU history in field goal percentage (.562), No. 6 in blocks (104) and blocks per game (1.7) and 10th in rebounds per game (8.0).
Kevin Bookout finished his career ranked No. 2 in school history in field goal percentage (.574), No. 14 in rebounds (682) and No. 26 in points (1,108). He also earned third-team Academic All-America honors last season.