In fifth place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (15-9 overall, 6-5 league) looks to get back to its winning ways when it hosts No. 6/6 Texas A&M (21-4, 9-2) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST. The Sooners are coming off a 58-51 defeat at Iowa State Tuesday that halted their four-game winning streak. The Aggies, tied for first place in the league with Kansas, had a five-game skein snapped with a 77-75 home loss to Texas Tech Tuesday.
Saturday’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. It will be televised regionally by ABC with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla calling the action.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 17
Site: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Tip: 2:42 p.m. CST
TV: ABC (coverage map)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KRXO 107.7 FM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 25-2
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 Saturday at 1 p.m.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, approximately 100 former OU players and coaches from various eras will be in attendance and honored at halftime and during timeouts Saturday.
BIG 12 MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS AVAILABLE
A limited supply of all-session tickets for the Phillips 66 Men’s Basketball Championship (March 8-11 inside Oklahoma City's Ford Center) are now on sale to the public. Tickets are $240 and include admission to all six sessions of the championship. Tickets may be ordered through the OU Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 456-4668.
OU owns a 25-2 (.926) series lead vs. Texas A&M and is 12-0 against the Aggies in Norman.
In Big 12 play, Oklahoma leads the league in scoring defense by allowing just 62.3 points per game. It is allowing 57.8 points per contest on the year to rank 11th nationally. The last time OU gave up fewer than 57.8 points per game for a season was in 1959-60.
OU is shooting .843 from the free throw line over its last six Big 12 outings (91-for-108).
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but is averaging 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds over the team’s 11 conference outings.
Carter has made 55 of his last 56 free throw attempts in Big 12 play. He leads the league (all games) with his .875 season percentage.
The Sooners have been outrebounded just three times in the last 20 games and just five times all season.
In its 15 wins, OU is holding foes to a .345 field goal mark. Twelve of those 15 opponents have failed to shoot .400.
Thirteen of OU’s 15 wins have been by double digits. Its average victory margin is 24.1 points.
TEXAS A&M PROJECTED STARTERS
F 44 Antanas Kavaliauskas (6-9, 250, Sr., 12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
C 30 Joseph Jones (6-9, 250, Jr., 13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
G 1 Acie Law (6-3, 195, Sr., 16.8 ppg 5.4 apg)
G 22 Dominique Kirk (6-3, 180, Jr., 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G 23 Josh Carter (6-7, 195, So., 12.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg)
After winning four straight games, the Sooners turned in their worst half of the season Tuesday at Iowa State and dug themselves a hole too deep from which to escape in a 58-51 loss. Leading 5-0 as ISU was kept off the scoreboard until the 15:08 mark, OU’s fortunes quickly changed as it surrendered 14 straight points en route to a 32-17 deficit at the break. The Cyclones’ lead grew to as many as 18 (39-21) before Jeff Capel’s squad mounted a comeback that closed the margin to four (53-49). An OU 3-point attempt that would have made the score 53-52 with 40 seconds left was off the mark, however, and Iowa State made its final four free throws to seal the win. The Sooners posted season lows in points (tied), points in a half (17), 3-pointers (2), 3-point percentage (.133) and assists (5). They shot .300 from the field in the first half and committed 12 of their 16 turnovers before halftime.
OU’s leading scorer (12.1 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg) on the season, Longar Longar recorded his sixth double-double of the year and third in the last four games with 20 points (all in the second half) and 12 boards against Iowa State. The junior center was 8-for-10 from the floor after halftime and is now shooting .602 on the year to rank second in the Big 12. Over the last four games he is averaging 16.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Longar has been especially effective in the team’s 15 wins this year, averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting .635.
Senior forward Michael Neal had converted 23-of-49 3-point attempts (.469) over a stretch of eight league games prior to his 1-for-8 performance Tuesday. Neal, who scored all eight of his points at Iowa State during a 1:03 span in the first half, averages 10.2 points and 2.8 rebounds a contest while shooting .310 from beyond the arc. In Big 12 games, he ranks ninth in the league in both 3-point percentage (.394) and 3-point makes per game (2.4).
Sophomore guard Tony Crocker averaged 11.1 points and 4.4 rebounds through OU’s first 14 games but is averaging 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 10 games since. A 23-game starter, he has been held to single digits in points in nine of the last 10 games. Another guard, sophomore Austin Johnson averages 7.6 points and a team-high 3.3 assists but has not scored and has just one assist over the last two games (42 total minutes). On the year he is shooting .345 from 3-point range and .920 (23-for-25) from the free throw line. Johnson also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Freshman guard Bobby Maze has provided a major spark off the bench each of the last two games after not seeing action in OU’s win over Oklahoma State Feb. 7. Maze recorded 12 points, four rebounds and three assists at Baylor last Saturday and followed with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting at Iowa State. He is averaging 5.8 points and 1.9 assists while shooting .506 from the field this year in 16 minutes a game.
IOWA STATE LEFTOVERS
Oklahoma was outrebounded (30-29) for just the fifth time this season and for just the third time in the last 20 games.
Guards Austin Johnson and David Godbold both went scoreless for the second straight game.
Tony Crocker scored OU’s first five points but failed to score aftewards.
Iowa State’s Jiri Hubalek, who entered the game averaging 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, finished with a career-high 26 points (on 11-for-16 shooting) and nine boards.
The Cyclones outscored the Sooners 21-13 in points off turnovers and 40-32 in the paint.
TEXAS A&M UPDATE
One of the nation’s top defensive squads, Texas A&M had its five-game winning streak snapped at home versus Texas Tech on Tuesday, 77-75. The Aggies, tied for first place in the Big 12 with Kansas at 9-2, enter the weekend allowing 56.8 points a game (ranks in top 10 nationally) and is holding their opponents to a .364 field goal mark (leads the country). They held each of their first 22 foes to 70 points or less but have surrendered at least 77 in two of the last three games. A&M also ranks as the Big 12’s best shooting team (.502) and best free throw shooting squad (.739). Five of its top six scorers are shooting better than .500 from the field.
Texas A&M has started the same five players in all 25 games. Senior guard Acie Law, who scored a team-high 23 points versus Texas Tech on Tuesday, averages 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 1.3 steals a contest, all team highs. He is shooting .512 from the field, .452 from 3-point range and .784 from the foul line. In Big 12 games, Law averages 19.0 points. Junior center Joseph Jones averages 13.2 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds while shooting .546 from the floor. Josh Carter, a sophomore guard, scores 12.5 points a game and leads the nation with his .515 3-point percentage (he has made 67 treys for a 2.7 average). Senior forward Antanas Kavaliauskas contributes 12.4 points and 6.1 boards a game and is shooting .583 from the floor. Junior guard Dominique Kirk supplies 6.6 points and 3.3 assists an outing.
Billy Gillispie is in his third season as Texas A&M’s head coach and has compiled a 64-23 (.736) record at the school. Gillispie compiled a two-year 30-32 record at UTEP before accepting the A&M job.
OKLAHOMA-TEXAS A&M SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 25-2 all-time record against Texas A&M and has won 14 of the series’ last 15 meetings. OU is 12-0 all-time in games played in Norman. The Sooners are 20-2 against the Aggies since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners lost 70-61 at sixth-ranked Texas A&M on Jan. 27, their second loss to a top-15 team on the road that week (they fell to No. 13 Oklahoma State 66-61 five days earlier). OU, which trailed just 2-0 and 4-2 in the first half, led A&M 29-28 at halftime when they held an 18-12 rebounding advantage. After intermission, however, the Aggies shot .565 from the field while holding OU to a .303 mark, and outrebounded the Sooners 23-15. A&M’s victory snapped a 14-game skid against OU and marked its 19th straight win at home. The game stands as Oklahoma’s only loss this year when leading at halftime (it is 15-1). Nate Carter finished with 19 points and pulled down seven boards. He went 13-for-13 from the foul line, tying Hollis Price’s 2002-03 school record for consecutive free throw makes in a season (36). Austin Johnson added 10 points and six assists while Longar Longar registered seven points and nine boards off the bench. Antanas Kavaliauskas scored a game-high 20 points for A&M while teammate Acie Law had 19. OU went 19-for-21 at the free throw line (.905) and scored 16 second-chance points to the Aggies’ zero.
CARTER STEPS UP
In what has to be one of the most remarkable in-season turnarounds in college basketball this year, senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since the start of 2007. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to Big 12 play, is averaging 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31 minutes per contest over 11 league outings. He is shooting .521 from the field and .904 from the free throw line (66-for-73) in conference play, and leads the team with his 38 offensive rebounds (his 3.5 average ranks second in the league). Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 210 over the last 12.
Carter in Big 12 Play
at Texas Tech
at Oklahoma State
at Texas A&M
at Iowa State
MORE ON CARTER
Carter in Big 12 Play
Carter (17.7 ppg and 7.5 rpg) is one of three players who average at least 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in Big 12 play. Texas’ Kevin Durant (30.1 points and 13.0 boards) and Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan (20.0 and 8.7) are the others.
Carter leads the Big 12 (all games) in free throw shooting (.875). He has made 55 of his last 56 attempts in league play (.982).
Carter had his school-record string of 37 consecutive makes broken against Longwood Jan. 30. He made 39 straight free throw attempts in conference play before a second-half miss against Texas Tech Feb. 3.
In Big 12 play, Carter ranks second in the league in offensive rebounding (3.5 per game), third in field goal percentage (.521), third in free throw percentage (.904), third in free throw attempts (6.6 per game), fifth in scoring (17.7 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
OPPORTUNITY, SUCCESS GO HAND IN HAND FOR LONGAR
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 12.1 points per game, 7.6 rebounds (ranks seventh in Big 12), 1.4 blocks (ranks eighth) and his .602 field goal mark (ranks second).
Longar registered his sixth career double-double (all this year) and third in the last four games when he scored 20 points (all in the second half) and grabbed 12 rebounds at Iowa State on Tuesday. The performance came on the heels of a 12-point, 12-rebound effort at Baylor last Saturday and three games after he had 19 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Texas Tech Feb. 3. Longar also turned in a 20-point, career-high 15-rebound game against SMU on Dec. 28 to earn Big 12 Co-Player of the Week honors. Additionally, Longar 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.
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 nearly twice as many points this year (247) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 57.8 points per game and .390 combined field goal percentage. The last time OU gave up less than 57.8 points per contest for an entire season was in 1959-60 (56.8 ppg) a span of 47 years. The last time Oklahoma opponents shot worse than .390 for a season was in 1960-61 (.377).
No opponent has scored more than 80 points against OU this year and Texas is the only foe to shoot .500 or better from the field (.547 on Jan. 13 in Austin). The Sooners have held 12 of their 24 opponents under .400 shooting.
FINE AT THE LINE
After shooting .670 from the free throw line in non-conference games, the Sooners are shooting .762 from the charity stripe in Big 12 action to rank second in the league. They own a .843 charity stripe mark (91-for-108) over their last six league outings. Nate Carter owns a .904 figure in Big 12 games (66-for-73) while Michael Neal is shooting .800 (16-for-20). Austin Johnson is 11-for-11 in conference play.
Oklahoma ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with its +6.3 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just three times over the last 20 contests. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 13-3 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-6 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 10.2 a game.
PROTECTING THE BALL
After averaging 15.8 turnovers a game prior to conference play, the Sooners have done a much better job of taking care of the basketball in their 11 Big 12 games. OU is averaging just 12.4 turnovers per conference outing to rank fourth in the Big 12. The Sooners are 10-1 this year when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents.
TEXAS STATE CHAMPS
OU has had more than its fair share of success against Big 12 teams from the state of Texas. The Sooners own a 126-46 (.733) all-time record against Baylor (31-5), Texas (45-23), Texas A&M (25-2) and Texas Tech (25-16). Since the inception of the Big 12, OU is 22-0 against Baylor, 16-9 versus Texas, 20-2 against Texas A&M and 16-8 versus Texas Tech for a combined 74-19 (.796) record.
Following are some notes about Oklahoma through 12 games of play at Lloyd Noble Center this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 50.3 points a contest (six foes have scored less than 50 points). It is outscoring its opponents 74.7 to 50.3 at Lloyd Noble Center (a margin of 24.4 points a game).
The Sooners are shooting .495 at home while opponents have shot .353.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 39.2 to 29.4 count (+9.8).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting .624 from the field.
Seven of Tony Crocker’s nine double-digit scoring games have come at Lloyd Noble (he also has a nine-point game in the building). He is averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists at home while shooting .500 from the field.
Austin Johnson is shooting .478 from 3-point range (22-for-46) and sports a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Opponents have racked up 218 turnovers (16.8 average) to just 118 assists (9.1 average).
HOME IS WHERE THE “W” IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 43 of the last 46 games and 98 of the last 106 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 410-66 (.861) 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 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its 15 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 10.6 a game. In its nine losses it is getting outboarded by 0.2.
OU is shooting .493 from the field in its wins but only .389 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .345 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 (235 assists and 194 turnovers). The ratio in losses is 0.8 (101 and 142).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 7.6 points and 6.4 boards in their defeats.
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.