|Oklahoma (2-0) vs. Washington State (2-1)|
|Date & Tip Time||Thursday, Nov. 24, at 10:30 p.m. CT|
|Location||Anaheim, Calif. | Anaheim Convention Center Arena|
|Radio|| Sooner Radio Network
KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
|Game Info||Game Notes (PDF)|
THURSDAY'S GAME BASICS
Oklahoma plays its first game away from Norman when it meets Washington State on Thanksgiving night at 10:30 p.m. CT in the first round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The 2-0 Sooners are coming off a 92-65 win over Coppin State on Friday while the 2-1 Cougars won at Portland on Sunday, 83-73. Thursday’s contest, the first of three over a four-day span for OU in Anaheim, will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Chuck Cooperstein and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Mark Neely and Miles Simon calling the action.
THE REST OF THE 76 CLASSIC FIELD
Oklahoma will play its 76 Classic second-round game against New Mexico (2-1 this year, 22-13 last season) or Santa Clara (2-1 this year, 24-14 last season) at either 8:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. CT on ESPN2 or ESPNU. After a day off, Sunday’s third-round game will pit the Sooners versus Boston College (1-2, 21-13), Saint Louis (3-0, 12-19), UC Riverside (1-2, 12-19) or Villanova (3-0, 21-12). Sunday’s championship game will start at 8 p.m. CT and be televised by ESPN2. All games will be played at the 7,500-seat Anaheim Convention Center Arena, adjacent to Disneyland. This marks the fifth year of the 76 Classic. Previous winners include USC in 2007, Wake Forest in 2008, West Virginia in 2009 and UNLV last season under current OU head coach Lon Kruger.
• The Sooners’ pressure defense under new head coach Lon Kruger has boosted the team’s offense through two regular season games. Opponents have averaged 17.5 turnovers, resulting in an average of 19.5 points per contest for the Sooners on the other end of the floor.
• Through two games, OU is averaging 85.0 points. That figure is one point higher than the team’s single-game scoring high last year (84 against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship first round). OU averaged 66.0 points last season.
• OU has shown balanced scoring in its first two games, with eight players averaging at least 6.0 points. That does not include sophomore guard Cameron Clark, the team’s fourth-leading scorer last year (9.3 ppg), who is averaging just 3.0 points so far this season.
• Rebounding was mentioned by Kruger several times in the preseason as a concern of his for 2011-12. However, OU outrebounded its two exhibition opponents by an average of 13.0 per game and has outboarded its first two regular season opponents by an average of 19.0 a contest. Included was a +34 effort against Coppin State on Friday (61-27). The Sooners have scored 40 second-chance points in the regular season to their opponents’ 11.
• Kruger has spread the wealth when it comes to playing time, with eight players averaging at least 18.0 minutes a game and two more averaging at least 12.5. No Sooner averages more than 30.0 minutes.
• After averaging 3.5 points in an average of 12.5 minutes a game last year as a freshman, guard Calvin Newell is averaging 16.5 points in 23.0 minutes a contest this season. His 33 points represent 31 percent of his total last year (107 points). Newell is playing on the wing this season after serving as a back-up combo guard as a freshman.
• OU’s win over Coppin State leaves Kruger just 19 victories shy of 500 for his career. He ranks second among current Big 12 head coaches with 481 career wins (Texas’ Rick Barnes has 526 victories).
PREVIEWING WASHINGTON STATE
Pac-12 member Washington State enters Thursday’s first-round 76 Classic game with a 2-1 record following an 89-81 season-opening loss at Gonzaga, a 79-68 win over Sacramento State and an 83-73 victory at Portland. The Cougars, who finished 22-13 last year (tied for sixth in Pac-10 at 9-9) and advanced to the NIT semifinals, return three starters and five of their top seven scorers from 2010-11. DeAngelo Castro and Klay Thompson, juniors on last year’s squad, both opted out of their senior seasons to play professionally. Thompson, a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection who averaged a league-high 21.6 points per game last year, was the 11th overall pick in last summer’s NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.
Leading the way for WSU through three games are junior forward Brock Motum and senior guard Aden Faisal. Motum, who averaged 7.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest last season, is averaging team highs of 17.7 points and 6.7 rebounds this year while shooting .667 from the field (22-for-33). He netted a career-high 23 points in the win over Sacramento State. Faisal is coming off a 21-point outing at Portland (in 24 minutes) and is averaging 17.0 points and 5.0 boards on the year. He is shooting .543 from the field and .500 from long distance (5-for-10). Freshman guard DaVonte Lacy is contributing 12.3 points and 3.3 assists per outing while junior backcourt mate Reggie Moore adds 7.7 points and a team-high 5.7 assists a game.
Washington State is shooting .512 from the field, .367 from 3-point range (6.0 makes per game) and .655 from the free throw line (19.0 makes per game). Opponents are shooting .430 from the field and .364 from behind the arc (8.0 makes per contest).
The Cougars are under the direction of head coach Ken Bone, who is 40-29 (.580) in his third year at WSU. A 1983 graduate of Seattle Pacific, Bone owns a 353-183 (.659) record in his 19th year overall.
OU-WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY
Thursday’s game will mark the first meeting between the Sooners and Cougars.
KRUGER 3-0 AT 76 CLASSIC
This week’s 76 Classic will be the second straight for first-year OU head coach Lon Kruger. Last year, Kruger directed UNLV to the 76 Classic title with a 3-0 record. The Runnin’ Rebels defeated Tulsa (80-71), Murray State (69-55) and Virginia Tech (71-59) to claim the crown.
LAST WEEK'S COPPIN STATE RECAP
Oklahoma bolted to a 30-6 lead and cruised to a 92-65 victory over Coppin State on Friday in Norman. Junior guard Steven Pledger, who was suspended for OU’s season opener the week before for impermissible participation in a summer pro-am game, went 8-for-14 from the field in his season debut and finished with 20 points and three assists in 20 minutes of action. Sophomore guard Calvin Newell came off the bench to supply 14 points (6-for-12 shooting) in 18 minutes of play, while junior forwards Romero Osby (11) and Andrew Fitzgerald (10) also reached double figures in scoring. Osby also pulled down 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
The Sooners owned the glass, posting a 61-27 rebounding advantage and pulling down 28 offensive boards that led to 28 second-chance points. OU also turned 15 Coppin State turnovers into 22 points on the other end. The Sooners shot .456 from the field, .417 from long range (10-for-24) and .769 from the free throw line (.769), while holding the Eagles to .364 field goal and .273 (9-for-33) 3-point shooting marks.
MORE ON THE SEASON OPENER
• Coppin State’s first 10 field goal attempts and 13 of its first 14 were 3-pointers. The Eagles finished 9-for-33 (.273) from deep.
• In opening up a 30-6 lead, eight Sooners scored before a second Eagle did.
• OU’s 61 rebounds were its most in 22 years. Its 28 offensive rebounds were one more than Coppin State’s total number of boards.
• Four Sooners grabbed at least eight rebounds (10 for Romero Osby, nine for Casey Arent and eight each for Andrew Fitzgerald and C.J. Washington).
• OU held Eagles guard Akeem Ellis, who was averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists entering the game, to no points, one rebound and no assists in 16 minutes.
• The Sooners improved to 15-0 against Coppin State.
THE OSBY SHOW
Junior forward Romero Osby has begun his OU career with a bang following a two-year stint at Mississippi State. The 6-8, 232-pounder, who sat out last season for the Sooners after transferring and was labeled the team’s best player in practice by former head coach Jeff Capel, is averaging 14.0 points,10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks in 26.5 minutes per contest through two outings. He is shooting .529 from the floor and .818 (9-for-11) from the free throw line while making his only 3-point attempt. He’s recorded double-doubles in both games, registering career highs of 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes versus Idaho State and 11 points and 10 boards against Coppin State in only 22 minutes. He ranks first in the Big 12 with his 5.0 offensive rebounds per game. In his two seasons at MSU, Osby averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 12.8 minutes a contest, and recorded highs of 15 points and eight rebounds.
PLEDGER A MODEL OF EFFICIENCY
Junior guard Steven Pledger has been extremely productive in his two appearances, averaging at least a point per minute in games versus Washburn (exhibition) and Coppin State. Against Washburn, the 6-4, 222-pounder netted five 3-pointers on seven attempts and finished with 24 points in 21 minutes. He scored 20 points in 20 minutes against Coppin State on Friday, and added three assists without a turnover. Combined in the two appearances, Pledger is 14-for-25 from the field (.560) and 8-for-15 from 3-point range (.533).
Pledger missed the team’s first exhibition game (failure to meet a team requirement) and first regular season contest (impermissible participation in a summer pro-am game). A 10.9 points-per-game scorer last year, he entered this season with 106 career 3-pointers (Terry Evans and Lawrence McKenzie are the only Sooners to make more treys through their sophomore year).