Sooners Start Season at Home Friday Night

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 11, 2010

  Cade Davis
 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. Coppin State (0-0) 
 Date & Tip Time  Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:07 p.m. CT
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center | Seating Views
 Tickets  $10, $15 and $30
 OU Athletics Ticket Office


 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Oklahoma begins its 104th season of varsity basketball when it hosts Coppin State Friday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center.  The contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  While the game will not be televised, a live webcast will be available for viewing free of charge on

Tickets are available for $10, $15 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online at  Lloyd Noble Center’s north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Friday. 

The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free OU men's basketball T-shirt.  The OU Athletics Department will also salute U.S. military veterans.

The Sooners have won 23 of their last 25 season-opening games, with the only losses during the last quarter of a century coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94.  OU has won 30 of its last 31 home openers.

Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 77 of its last 79 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .975 winning percentage).  Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova on Dec. 6, 2006.  The current string stands at 19 games.

It's a fresh start for head coach Jeff Capel and Oklahoma, as the Sooners return just five players from their 2009-10 end-of-year roster and feature nine newcomers. OU lost its top four scorers, top three rebounders and top three assist men from last year's 13-18 squad, leaving it with just 28 percent its scoring, 22 percent of its rebounding and 17 percent of its assists back for 2010-11.

With so many new players, Capel will lean on returning guards Cade Davis and Steven Pledger and returning forward Andrew Fitzgerald for production, especially early in the season. Davis is the team's lone senior and leading returner in minutes (31.8), scoring (9.9), rebounding (3.9), assists (1.0), steals (1.5) and 3-point field goals (1.9). One of four captains, Davis played in all 31 games last year and started the last 27. He made at least three 3-pointers on 11 occasions and scored 20 points or more four times. Another major 3-point threat, Pledger played in all but one game as a freshman and averaged 6.2 points in 18.9 minutes a contest. Forty-four of his 60 field goals were from long range. Fitzgerald is OU's lone returning big man with experience. The 6-8, 231-pounder has lost almost 30 pounds since last season when he averaged 4.8 points (on .511 field goal shooting) and 2.0 rebounds in 15.7 minutes a game. Fitzgerald, like Davis, is a team captain.

Also back from last year are junior walk-on point guard and captain T.J. Franklin (played in 15 games last year) and sophomore forward Kyle Hardrick (played in three games). Junior forward Barry Honoré, who was on the team during last year's fall semester but not during the spring semester, returns to the squad. The 6-7, 258-pounder played his first two seasons at Southern University and was the 2008 Southwestern Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Andrew Fitzgerald | So. | Forward
 • Recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in exhibition win last week
 • Started six of final seven games last year 
 • Averaged 13.0 points during three-game span last year against Colorado, No. 7 Kansas State and No. 1 Kansas
 • Shot .511 from the field as a freshman 
 • Has lost 27 pounds since start of last season


Headlining the large group of newcomers are backcourt members Carl Blair and Cameron Clark and junior college forwards Nick Thompson and C.J. Washington. Blair is a point guard transfer from the University of New Orleans who last year as a freshman averaged 9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Eligible to play immediately due to New Orleans' reclassification to Division III status, Blair played in all 30 games and started 29 of them. The 6-6 Clark, rated as one the country's top-40 high school seniors last year, was a two-time all-state performer in Texas and last season averaged 23.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. The 6-9 Thompson helped College of Eastern Utah to a third-place national junior college finish by averaging 8.6 points (on .556 field goal shooting), 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Washington, at 6-7, earned first-team juco All-America honors last year after averaging 19.3 points and a school-record 13.0 rebounds for Connors State College.

Four other Sooner newcomers eligible to play this season are freshmen T.J. Taylor, Calvin Newell, Tyler Neal and Abdul Ahmed.  Taylor is a 6-3 combo guard who was a three-time all-state selection in Texas and was ranked as the country’s No. 78 high school senior last year by  However, Capel said this week that Taylor will likely redshirt due to a head injury that has resulted in considerable missed practice time.  Newell is a flashy 6-1 scoring guard from Philadelphia, Pa., who averaged 26.1 points while prepping in North Carolina last year.  Neal, a versatile 6-7 forward, earned Oklahoma player-of-the-year honors as a senior after averaging 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds for state tournament qualifier Putnam City West High School.  At 6-10, Ahmed, from London, England, is the team’s tallest player.  He attended Canarias Academy last year in the Canary Islands.

The 15th player on OU’s roster is Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby.  A 6-8 forward, Osby has to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer regulations.  He averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game over his freshman and sophomore seasons.  Capel said Osby may be the Sooners’ most talented player.

Located in Baltimore, Md., Coppin State finished 8-22 overall last year and 3-13 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.  The Eagles won five of their first eight games before enduring a 13-game losing streak.  They closed the year with four wins in their last nine games.

Like Oklahoma, Coppin State has a long list of newcomers this season.  The only four returning players from last year are junior guard Michael Harper, senior guard Vince Goldsberry, sophomore forward Branden Doughty and senior center Ceslovas Kucinskas.  Harper is the squad’s leading returning scorer (9.9 ppg), rebounder (3.8 rpg) and free throw shooter (.862).  Goldsberry averaged 8.7 points, 3.6 boards, a team-high 3.3 assists and a team-high 1.7 steals per contest.  On the inside, Doughty started 25 games and averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds while Kucinskas contributed 5.3 points and 3.5 boards per game.

Friday will also mark Coppin State’s first game of the year.  The Eagles are coached by Ron "Fang" Mitchell, who owns a 379-343 (.525) record over his 24 years, all at CSU.

Oklahoma is 13-0 in its series with Coppin State, with 12 of those games played in Norman (the other was played in Oklahoma City on Dec. 27, 1997, as part of the All-College Tournament).  OU has beaten the Eagles by an average of 22.2 points in the series.  Ron "Fang" Mitchell has served as Coppin State’s head coach in all 13 meetings.

• The last time OU and Coppin State met, the Sooners posted a 93-62 home win on Jan. 3, 2009.  It was the 200th game in the head coaching career of Jeff Capel.
• Tony Crocker led five Sooners in double figures with 20 points.  He nailed five 3-pointers on 11 attempts.
• Blake Griffin, who went on to win national-player-of-the-year honors, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes.
• The Sooners made 13 treys on 29 attempts (.448).  Overall, they outshot the Eagles .536 to .355.
• Tywain McKee led Coppin State with 20 points while Brian Chesnut added 16 points and six rebounds.
• Current Eagle junior guard Michael Harper finished with 13 points, three boards and five assists in 33 minutes of action.

• Oklahoma hosted Division II Northern State last Tuesday and earned a 75-64 come-from-behind win.
• Trailing 55-51, the Sooners outscored the Wolves 24-9 over the final 7:23.
• Veterans Steven Pledger (23), Cade Davis (14) and Andrew Fitzgerald (13) combined for 50 points.
• Pledger, who netted 18 of his 23 points after halftime, was 7-for-12 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line on the night.  Davis added four assists and two steals without a turnover, while Fitzgerald grabbed a game-high 10 boards for a double-double.
• Sophomore guard Carl Blair racked up eight assists in 21 minutes of action.  Freshman guard Cameron Clark added nine points while freshman backcourt mate Calvin Newell totaled six points, four assists and four steals without a turnover.
• OU shot .333 from the field and .500 (5-for-10) from the free throw line in the first half.  It responded with respective .556 and .762 (16-for-21) performances in the second half.
• The Sooners committed 17 turnovers while Northern State racked up 22 offensive miscues.

OU plays two more home games next week before leaving for the Nov. 22-24 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational.  The Sooners host North Carolina Central on Monday and Texas Southern on Thursday, both at 7 p.m. CT.



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