Oklahoma (8-4) looks to rebound from its first loss since Dec. 6 when it opens Big 12 play at Texas Tech (11-4) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. CST inside United Spirit Arena in Lubbock. OU is coming off a 70-55 loss at No. 8 Alabama on Monday while the Red Raiders posted a 70-68 home victory over New Mexico the same day. Tech’s triumph gave head coach Bob Knight his 880th career victory, giving him the Division I men’s record for all-time wins.
Saturday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing. It will be televised regionally by ESPN Plus with Dave Armstrong and Paul Splittorff calling the action.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 6
Tip: 12:47 p.m. CST
TV: ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 11 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC)
Series: OU leads 24-15
Oklahoma ranks eighth in the country in field goal percentage defense (.365), 11th in scoring defense (55.1 ppg) and 19th in rebounding margin (+8.4).
In its eight wins, OU is holding its foes to a .315 field goal mark. None of those eight opponents has shot better than .370.
Junior center Longar Longar already has more points through 12 games this year (159) than he scored in 50 games over his first two seasons combined (127).
Tony Crocker (11.0 ppg) is looking to become just the second OU true freshman in the last 23 years to average double figures in scoring.
All eight of the Sooners’ wins have been by double digits.
Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, OU is 71-16 (.816) against league teams from Texas.
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 6.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 13.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 9.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 10.2 ppg, 3.7 apg)
TEXAS TECH PROJECTED STARTERS
F 30 Michael Prince (6-7, 210, So., 2.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
F 41 Damir Suljagic (6-8, 248, So., 1.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
G 3 Martin Zeno (6-5, 208, Jr., 16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
G 22 Jarrius Jackson (6-2, 185, Sr., 21.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
G 42 Charlie Burgess (6-1, 190, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
The Sooners dominated the boards (40-31) against one of the nation’s better rebounding teams but couldn’t overcome poor shooting in a 70-55 loss at No. 8 Alabama on Monday. OU shot .365 from the field, .238 from 3-point range and .444 from the free throw line in its first true road game of the season. The Crimson Tide led by just six at the half (27-21) but shot .667 from the field (12-for-18) and .917 from the free throw line (17-for-18) after the break to secure the 15-point victory.
Sophomore guard Austin Johnson also averages double figures in scoring with his 10.2 points a game, and leads the team with his 3.7 assists. Johnson also leads the team with his .400 season 3-point percentage (20-for-50). Senior guard Michael Neal is averaging 9.8 points, 3.2 boards and 2.1 assists per outing while leading the Big 12 with his .893 free throw percentage. Neal, who shot .495 from 3-point range in Big 12 games last season when he was league newcomer of the year, has been held to a .224 3-point mark this season and was 0-for-6 from long range against Alabama. Another guard, junior David Godbold averages 7.8 points a game and ranks 15th in the Big 12 with his 5.7 rebounds per contest. He made three treys at Alabama and finished with 11 points. Godbold has come off the bench in each of the last four games but ranks second on the squad with his 28.6 minutes per outing. Sophomore forward Taylor Griffin, who has started 11 of 12 games, contributes 6.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot a game. He has at least one block in each of the last six outings.
Oklahoma is outscoring its opponents by 14.1 points a game on the season (69.2 to 55.1) and boasts a +8.4 rebounding advantage per contest (38.4 to 30.0), best in the Big 12 Conference.
Junior center Longar Longar was honored by the Big 12 on Tuesday as its Co-Player of the Week (with Texas A&M’s Josh Carter) for games Dec. 25-31. In OU’s only game of the week, Longar netted 20 points and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds in a 69-42 win over an SMU squad that entered the game with a 9-1 record. Longar was 7-for-11 from the field and got to the foul line for a career-high 10 free throw attempts. The award marked the first time of Longar’s career he earned a weekly league honor.
Alabama entered the game outrebounding its opponents by 10.6 a game, but watched OU post a 40-31 advantage on the glass. The Sooners pulled down a season-high 22 offensive rebounds.
Oklahoma made its final four 3-point attempts of the game but began the day just 1-for-17 from beyond the arc.
David Godbold’s 11 points were his most since Dec. 2.
Michael Neal was 0-for-7 from the field, marking just the first time in his two-year OU career he did not score a point.
Nate Carter’s 18 minutes were his most in six games.
Bobby Maze played a career-high 22 minutes and matched his career best with eight points. He is shooting .706 from the field in his four games (12-for-17).
CLARK OUT FOR YEAR WITH KNEE INJURY
Freshman Keith Clark sustained torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during first-half action against SMU on Dec. 28 and will miss the rest of the season. The 6-8, 245-pound forward from Oklahoma City came off the bench in all of his 11 games this year and averaged 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes a contest. He scored a season-high nine points against Purdue on Nov. 21 and pulled down a season-high four rebounds twice. Clark will have surgery next week and will be sidelined four to six months.
Ranked the No. 57 player in the 2006 national recruiting class by Rivals.com, Clark led Putnam City High School to the Class 6A state title last year by averaging 14.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists for the season. He was named City Player of the Year by The Oklahoman.
"This is a huge blow to our team," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "First of all, it’s a big blow to Keith. He was just starting to play really well. I thought he had his best game of the year against Tulsa (Dec. 21) and played very well against SMU before he got hurt. He was making the jump to becoming a good college basketball player and I hate to see this happen to him. Keith’s injury will give other players on our team an opportunity to step up and I’m sure they’re looking forward to that challenge."
TEXAS TECH UPDATE
Texas Tech opens Big 12 play with an 11-4 record and is coming off a 70-68 win over New Mexico on Monday in which starting guards Jarrius Jackson (22), Martin Zeno (22) and Charlie Burgess (13) accounted for 57 of the team’s points. The Red Raiders’ four losses have come versus Marquette (87-72), Air Force (67-53), Stanford (70-59) and at home to UNLV (74-66). They are outscoring their opponents by 7.6 points a game on the year (75.6 to 68.0) but are getting outrebounded by 2.5 a contest (34.7 to 32.2). Tech, picked to finish in sixth place in the preseason Big 12 coaches’ poll, is one of the league’s better shooting teams, and boasts marks of .483 from the field and .454 from 3-point range.
Jackson, a first-team all-conference pick last year, ranks third in the Big 12 this season with his 21.4 points per game and also averages 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.9 steals. The senior averages 2.7 3-point makes per contest and is shooting .519 from beyond the arc. Zeno, a left-handed junior, contributes 16.8 points a game and averages team highs in rebounds (5.1) and assists (3.7) while shooting .523 from the floor. Burgess, the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year last season, supplies 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists an outing. Nobody else averages more than 6.1 points or 2.9 rebounds.
Bob Knight, in his 41st year as a collegiate head coach, is the all-time winningest coach in men’s Division I with an 880-354 record (.713). He is in his sixth year as Texas Tech’s head coach and owns a 116-65 (.641) record.
OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 24-15 all-time record against Texas Tech and is 8-9 in Lubbock. OU has won three of its last four games at Tech and seven of its last 10, including last year’s 71-70 victory on Feb. 20. The Sooners are 15-7 against the Red Raiders since the inception of the Big 12 Conference and 8-4 against Texas Tech teams coached by Bob Knight.
LAST YEAR AGAINST THE RED RAIDERS
In the season’s first meeting on Jan. 21, OU posted a 60-48 win over Texas Tech in Norman. The Sooners jumped to a 16-2 lead and went to halftime up 32-12. The Red Raiders closed to within two, 40-38, before Oklahoma used a 20-10 run to end the game. Michael Neal netted a team-high 15 points for OU and drained four 3-pointers in the game’s final four minutes. Terrell Everett added 11 points and eight assists while Austin Johnson scored 10 points. Jarrius Jackson led Tech with 15 points. The Sooners held a 38-23 rebounding advantage, including an 18-6 margin on the offensive glass. Both teams had 21 turnovers.
OU escaped with a 71-70 win in a Lubbock re-match on Feb. 20 as Kevin Bookout’s tip-in of an Everett missed shot with 4.5 seconds left marked the game’s final points. The Sooners led 62-52 with 7:35 left before Tech used an 18-6 run to go up 70-68 with 1:08 remaining. Neal led the Sooners in scoring for the fourth straight game with his 18 points. He was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and added five rebounds. The five treys gave him 26 over the four-game span. Taj Gray posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Bookout finished with 12 points and Everett with 10 points and eight more assists. Jackson paced the Raiders with 27 points on 9-for-21 shooting while Martin Zeno added 15 points. OU dominated the boards, 45-24, and had 17 offensive rebounds to Tech’s five.
OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH TIES
Texas Tech basketball operations director/assistant athletic director Les Fertig is a 1970 Oklahoma graduate who later served as an OU graduate assistant and “part-time” assistant coach (1976 to 1980). The Sooners won the 1979 Big Eight title while Fertig was on staff. Fertig, who was born in Tulsa and graduated from Norman High School, also earned his master’s degree from OU.
Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight coached Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski at Army (Krzyzewski earned three letters 1967-69). Krzyzewski coached OU head coach Jeff Capel at Duke (Capel earned four letters 1994-97).
OU IN BIG 12 OPENERS
Despite losing two of its last three conference-opening games, Oklahoma 7-3 in Big 12 openers. The Sooners have opened Big 12 play on the road six times in the league’s previous 10 years and own a 3-3 record in those contests. They have never opened conference action against Texas Tech.
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 123-43 (.741) all-time record against Baylor (29-5), Texas (45-22), Texas A&M (25-1) and Texas Tech (24-15). Since the inception of the Big 12, OU is 20-0 against Baylor, 16-8 versus Texas, 20-1 against Texas A&M and 15-7 versus Texas Tech for a combined 71-16 (.816) record.
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks 19th in the nation with its +8.4 rebounding margin per game. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 8-1 when it has outboarded its opponents and 0-3 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 13.1 a game (41.4 to 28.3). In its last game, OU outboarded Alabama 40-31 (the Crimson Tide entered the contest outrebounding its opponents by an average of 10.6 a game).
LONGAR CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITY
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 13.3 points per game (ranks 19th in Big 12), 7.8 rebounds (ranks fifth) and 1.5 blocks (ranks eighth), as well as with his .591 field goal mark (ranks fourth).
Longar turned in a 20-point, career-high 15-rebound game against SMU on Dec. 28, his third double-double of his career (all this season). He also 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. Additionally, he scored 21 points against Liberty in the second game of the season (Nov. 16).
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 32 more points this year (159) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
CROCKER AMONG BIG 12’S TOP FRESHMEN
Tony Crocker is having one of the more memorable freshman campaigns in recent OU memory. The true freshman is one of two Sooners who has started every game and owns season averages of 11.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals (in 25.0 minutes a game) while shooting .510 from the field and .789 from the free throw line. He ranks seventh among Big 12 freshmen in scoring (among those who have played in at least half of their team’s games).
Crocker, who has scored in double figures in five of the last six games and is averaging 14.2 points and 5.0 boards during the stretch, is looking to become just the second true freshman since guard Tim McCalister in 1983-84 to average double figures in scoring. McCalister averaged 16.1 points that season while freshman guard Drew Lavender averaged 11.3 points in 2003-04.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its eight wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 13.1 a game. In its four losses it is getting outboarded by 1.0.
Opponents are shooting just .315 from the field in OU’s wins while they are shooting .466 in OU’s losses.
OU’s assist-to-turnover ratio in its victories is +1.2 (129 assists and 111 turnovers). The ratio in losses is -1.6 (48 and 78).
Longar Longar is averaging 16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 7.5 points and 6.0 boards in their defeats.
Interestingly, OU is shooting .637 from the free throw line in its wins compared to .741 in its losses.
STACKING UP AGAINST THE BIG 12
OU ranks first in the Big 12 in rebounding margin (+8.4), second in scoring defense (55.1 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.365) and fourth in blocked shots (5.1 bpg).
Michael Neal leads the conference with his .893 free throw percentage (25-for-28).
Longar Longar ranks 19th in the conference in scoring (13.3 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (.591), fifth in rebounding (7.8), third in offensive rebounding (3.4) and eighth in blocked shots (1.5).
Taylor Griffin (10th) and David Godbold (17th) rank in the top 20 in rebounding with their 6.8 and 5.7 respective averages. Griffin also ranks seventh in the league with his 4.8 defensive boards a contest.
Austin Johnson’s 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth in the conference.
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 1,437-913 (.611) all-time record and a 404-66 (.860) 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.