Hot Men's Hoops Team Back Home Wednesday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 20, 2011

  Romero Osby has grabbed 10 rebounds four times already this season.
 Oklahoma (8-1) vs. South Carolina State (4-7)
 Date & Tip Time  Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7:07 p.m. CT
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center | Seating Views
 Tickets  $10, $20 and $30; $5 for OU students
 OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV  Sooner Sports Network
 KAUT Ch. 43 in Oklahoma City
 KQCW Ch. 19 in Tulsa
 ESPN Full Court
 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
 Webcast All-Access
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Riding a four-game winning streak, Oklahoma (8-1) plays host to South Carolina State (4-7) Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners have won 32 straight non-conference home games and are coming off a 79-74 All-College Classic victory over Houston on Saturday in Oklahoma City.  The Bulldogs started 4-2 on the year but have lost five straight, including a 69-55 contest at No. 15 Pitt on Saturday.  Wednesday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KAUT Ch. 43 in OKC; KQCW Ch. 19 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court) with Bob Carpenter and Billy Tubbs calling the action.

• Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online here.  Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at noon on Saturday.
• OU students may purchase a ticket for $5.  OU student season tickets cost $40.

Gameday Central: OU vs. South Carolina State | ESPN Article: OU on the Rise With Lon Kruger

• Picked to finish last (tied with Texas Tech) by Big 12 coaches in the league’s preseason poll, Oklahoma holds the conference’s third best record at 8-1.  The Sooners entered the week at No. 32 in’s RPI rankings.
• Since sustaining its only loss of the season to Saint Louis in the 76 Classic championship game on Nov. 27, Oklahoma has shot .500 from the field, .528 (28-for-53) from 3-point range and .785 (62-for-79) from the free throw line in wins over Sacramento State, Oral Roberts, Arkansas and Houston.  The Sooners held those four foes to combined .397 field goal and .295 (23-for-78) 3-point shooting, and have won by an average of 15.8 points.
• Oklahoma entered the week ranked No. 5 nationally (out of 338 Division I teams) in 3-point field goal percentage (.432), No. 13 in rebounding margin (+9.0), No. 34 in scoring (78.2 ppg) and No. 38 in free throw percentage (.742).
• Only one OU team in the last 16 seasons averaged more points for a season than the current average of 78.2 (78.7 in 2008-09).
• The Sooners’ 8-1 start is their second best in last eight seasons (surpassed only by the 12-0 start during Blake Griffin’s sophomore year of 2008-09).
• Oklahoma has shot better than .500 from behind the arc in three of its last four games.
• The Sooners have scored at least 75 points six times in their nine games.  Last year’s team reached the 75-point mark seven times in their 32 contests.
• OU’s wins over Sacramento State (by 29 points), Coppin State (27), Arkansas (15), Washington State (15), Oral Roberts (14) and Houston (5) represent those teams’ largest margins of defeat this year.
• The Sooners’ pressure defense under new head coach Lon Kruger has boosted the team’s offense through nine games.  Opponents have averaged 15.2 turnovers, resulting in an average of 17.9 points per contest for OU on the other end of the floor.  Foes haven’t been as opportunistic, averaging 12.2 points off the Sooners’ 13.0 turnovers per game.

• After averaging 8.6 points and shooting .386 from the field and .345 from long distance over his first two seasons, junior guard Steven Pledger is averaging 19.5 points this year and is shooting .604 from the field (ranks No. 1 among nation’s guards) and .512 from 3-point range (ranks fourth nationally; single-season school record is .473 by Tim Heskett in 1998-99).  He ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 in scoring, No. 3 in 3-point field goal percentage, No. 4 in field goal percentage, No. 5 in 3-pointers (2.6 per game) and No. 6 in free throw percentage (.833) and steals (1.6 per game).
• To help put Pledger’s .604 field goal performance in perspective, the top field goal mark by an OU guard over the course of an entire season since 2000 was Willie Warren’s .473 figure in 2008-09.
• Pledger has scored in double figures in each of his eight outings and has shot at least .500 from the field in every game except the loss to Saint Louis.  He has scored at least 20 points four times after doing it three times all of last season.
• Pledger’s shooting percentages are even better in OU’s wins (.654 from the field and .541 from 3-point range).  He was 4-for-13 from the field and 1-for-4 from deep in defeat against Saint Louis.
• Pledger averaged 13.6 points per 40 minutes last season but has almost doubled that figure this year (26.4).
• Pledger is averaging 18.5 points in the second half of the last two games on 13-for-15 field goal and 3-for-3 3-point shooting.
• Pledger has made 55 field goals this year, already putting him at 49 percent of last year’s total (112).  He is on pace for 199 field goals in this year’s regular season.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Steven Pledger | Jr. | Guard
 • Reigning Co-Big 12 Player of the Week (31 points, 10 rebounds vs. Houston)
 • Ranks No. 1 nationally among guards with his .604 season field goal mark
 • Ranks No. 4 in the country with his .512 3-point field goal percentage
 • Averaging 21.3 points over the last four games (all wins) on .707 shooting


• Junior guard Sam Grooms has been strong at the point, ranking No. 3 in the Big 12 in both assists (5.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7).  He has recorded one or zero turnovers four times in nine games and leads the Sooners in minutes (30.3).
• Junior forward Romero Osby leads the Big 12 with his 3.6 offensive rebounds per game and ranks third in the league with his 7.8 overall boards per outing.  He has recorded a career-high 10 rebounds on four occasions this year.
• Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has scored in double figures in each of the last four games (averaging 14.0 during stretch) after doing it just twice in OU’s first five outings (averaged 8.4 points).
• Since sophomore guard Calvin Newell left the team on Dec. 1, sophomore forward Tyler Neal has seen his minutes and production jump significantly.  Neal is averaging 10.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in an average of 22.3 minutes the last four games, and is shooting .524 from the field and .471 (8-for-17) from 3-point range.  In OU’s first five games — before Newell announced he was transferring — Neal averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists in an average of 14.0 minutes.  He shot .438 from the field.
• After averaging 3.0 points on .167 (3-for-18) shooting in OU’s first two games, sophomore wing Cameron Clark has scored in double figures in six of the last seven outings and is shooting .500 from the field and .500 from 3-point range (5-for-10) during the stretch.

Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 90 of its last 92 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .978 winning percentage).  Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova, 67-51, on Dec. 6, 2006.  The only other home non-conference loss during the last 92 games was a 66-62 defeat at the hands of Stephen F. Austin in the 2007-08 season.  The current win string stands at 32 games.

Here are some notes on Oklahoma’s home performance this season:

• In five home games, Carl Blair (6-for-12), Tyler Neal (10-for-20) and Steven Pledger (9-for-18) are each shooting .500 from 3-point range.  Cameron Clark is shooting .455 (5-for-11) from deep at home. 
• OU’s top four scorers at home are shooting a combined .562 (86-for-153) from the field in those five outings.  Pledger is shooting .643 (27-for-42) in home games this season and is followed by Romero Osby (.581), Blair (.500) and Neal (.500).

• After starting 4-2, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member South Carolina State has lost five in a row and enters Wednesday’s game with a 4-7 record.  The Bulldogs, coming off a 69-55 loss at No. 15 Pitt on Saturday, are shooting .402 from the field, .330 from 3-point range and .635 from the free throw line on the year.  Opponents are shooting .470 from the field and .354 from long range.
• Senior guard Brandon Riley is averaging a team-high 20.9 points per game thanks in part to his 22 3-point makes (shooting .431 from deep).  He is coming off a 21-point game at Pitt in which he went 3-for-5 from behind the arc.  He also averages 4.6 rebounds.
• Junior point guard Khalif Toombs has started all 11 games and averages 12.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and a team-high 3.7 assists per contest.  He ranks second on the squad with 12 treys (shooting .429) and first with 34 free throw makes (shooting .791).
• Senior forward Omar Sanders contributes 10.8 points and a team-high 6.5 boards per game.  He is shooting a team-best .500 from the floor and paces the Bulldogs with his 13 blocked shots (1.6 average).
Tim Carter is in his fifth year as head coach at South Carolina State and owns a 62-77 (.446) record there.  He is in his 16th year overall and is 222-229 (.492).  A 1979 Kansas graduate, Carter earned his master’s in education from Oklahoma in 1984.  He was a graduate assistant under OU head coach Billy Tubbs during the 1982-83 season (Wayman Tisdale’s freshman year).  Carter later went on to serve as an Oklahoma State assistant coach under Leonard Hamilton.

Wednesday’s game will mark just the second between Oklahoma and South Carolina State, with the Sooners winning the previous meeting, 71-54, in the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City.  No. 1-seeded OU received single-digit point total from its top four scorers of the season (Hollis Price, Ebi Ere, Kevin Bookout and Quannas White totaled 19 on the day) but guards DeAngelo Alexander (16 points) and Blake Johnston (15) came off the bench to supply career highs.  Price (groin injury) and Bookout (strep throat) did not play in the second half.

Steven Pledger recorded his first career double-double (31 points and a career-high 10 rebounds) to help Oklahoma overcome a nine-point second-half deficit and post a 79-74 win over Houston in the All-College Classic on Saturday in Oklahoma City.
• Pledger turned in OU’s best field goal (9-for-13), 3-point (4-for-5) and free throw (7-for-7) performances of the year en route to his second highest career scoring total (highest in regulation).  He scored 18 of his 31 in the second half and led the team in points for the third straight game.
• The Sooners led 40-37 at halftime but wached Houston make seven of its first 10 shots in the second half to take a 53-44 lead with 15 minutes left.  OU responded with an 11-2 run to tie the game at 55, before the Cougars went back up by five, 62-57, with 8:42 remaining.  A Pledger 3-pointer with 5:02 left put the Sooners up for good.  OU led by eight until Houston hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
• Sophomore guard Cameron Clark netted 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting after going scoreless the previous game vs. Arkansas.
• Junior guard Sam Grooms scored 10 points and handed out a game-high eight assists without a turnover.  He played 38 minutes, the most by a Sooner this season.
• The Sooners overcame combined 6-for-27 field goal shooting by starting forwards Andrew Fitzgerald (4-for-16) and Romero Osby (2-for-11).  Fitzgerald totaled 10 points and six rebounds while Osby pulled down a career-high-tying 10 boards in 19 minutes.
• Oklahoma committed a season-low nine turnovers and outscored Houston 17-10 off turnovers (the Cougars committed 13).

The Sooners play at Cincinnati on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. CT.  The game will be played off campus at U.S. Bank Arena and will be televised by ESPNU.



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