The Oklahoma men's basketball team (12-8 overall, 3-4 Big 12) plays its second of three straight home games when its hosts Texas Tech (15-7, 4-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m. CST in Norman. OU is coming off an 81-40 non-conference win over Longwood on Tuesday while the Red Raiders dropped a 76-64 decision at home to No. 22/23 Texas on Wednesday.
Saturday’s contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC-AM 1520 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing. It will be televised regionally on ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 11 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa) with Dave Armstrong and Reid Gettys calling the action. The game will also be available on ESPN Full Court.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 3
Tip: 7:05 p.m. CST
TV: ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 11 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Series: OU leads 24-16
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 5:30 p.m.
As part of OU’s 100th-year-of-basketball celebration, former head coach Billy Tubbs will be honored at halftime. The Sooners’ all-time winningest coach will also sign autographs on the upper concourse starting at 5:45 p.m.
All eight of OU’s losses are to teams ranked in the top 46 of CBS SportsLine’s RPI poll (as of Thursday) .
OU has held opponents to .338 field goal shooting and an average of 48.5 points in its 11 games at Lloyd Noble Center this year.
Nate Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds prior to Big 12 play, but leads OU with his 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds over the team’s seven conference outings.
Over the last three Big 12 games, Carter is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds while going 32-for-32 at the free throw line.
The Sooners lead the Big 12 with their +7.0 rebounding margin per contest. They have been outboarded twice in the last 16 games.
Michael Neal is 20-for-45 (.444) from 3-point range in Big 12 play (he was 13-for-60 (.217) over OU’s 13 non-conference outings.
In its 12 wins, OU is holding its foes to a .325 field goal mark. Only one of those 12 opponents has shot better than .370.
All 12 of OU’s wins have been by double digits. Its average victory margin is 28.1 points.
In Big 12 play, OU leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22) and ranks second by committing just 11.6 turnovers a game. The Sooners averaged 15.4 in non-league play.
TEXAS TECH PROJECTED STARTERS
F 30 Michael Prince (6-7, 210, So., 2.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
F 32 Jon Plefka (6-8, 245, Sr., 5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
G 3 Martin Zeno (6-5, 208, Jr., 16.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
G 22 Jarrius Jackson (6-2, 185, Sr., 20.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G 42 Charlie Burgess (6-1, 190, Jr., 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 9.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 8.3 ppg, 3.4 apg)
The Sooners posted an 81-40 home win over Longwood on Tuesday in their final regular-season non-conference game of the year. OU shot .492 from the field while holding the Lancers to a .321 mark as it improved to 10-1 at Lloyd Noble Center this season. Jeff Capel’s team, which led 42-18 at the half, forced 21 Longwood turnovers, racked up 52 points in the paint and held a 42-35 rebounding advantage.
In his fifth start of the year, senior forward Nate Carter recorded 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added four assists and two steals Tuesday. He converted his first free throw attempt of the game to give him 37 straight makes, breaking Hollis Price’s school record of 36 in a row set in the 2002-03 season. Carter missed his next attempt, falling two shy of the Big 12 record of 39. Since freshman Keith Clark sustained a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 28, Carter has seen his playing time skyrocket. In seven Big 12 games, he is averaging team highs in points (18.4) and rebounds (8.1) in 29 minutes an outing. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 boards in 13 minutes a game prior to league play.
Senior guard Michael Neal, who played just 13 minutes against Longwood, has converted 18 of his 36 long-range attempts (.500) over the past five league games and is averaging 14.0 points over those contests. On the year, Neal averages 10.1 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting .320 from beyond the arc. He ranks fourth in the Big 12 (league games) by shooting .444 from beyond the arc and by averaging 2.9 treys.
Sophomore guard Tony Crocker, one of the Big 12’s more productive freshmen, ranks third on the team by scoring 9.9 points a game and also supplies 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals. He is the only Sooner who has started all 20 games. Crocker snapped a five-game streak of single-digit scoring with an 11-point effort against Longwood. He added a team-high eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in 19 minutes. Another guard, sophomore Austin Johnson averages 8.3 points and a team-high 3.4 assists while shooting .342 from 3-point range. Johnson also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Tony Crocker scored all of his 11 points in the game’s first 12 minutes, including OU’s first seven. He grabbed eight rebounds (one shy of his career high) despite playing only 19 minutes on the night.
Several reserves saw more playing time than usual. Senior guard Chris Walker scored a season-high six points while pulling down five rebounds and handing out five assists (he entered the game averaging 1.1 points, 1.3 boards and 1.1 assists). Freshman Beau Gerber’s three points were a career high while his three rebounds matched a career best. Senior Kellen Sampson got on the board by going 2-for-2 at the free throw line.
OU won for the 53rd time in its last 54 home non-conference games.
TEXAS TECH UPDATE
Texas Tech started Big 12 play 4-1 but has dropped its last two games. The Red Raiders are 3-1 at home (beat OU, Kansas and Texas A&M; lost to Texas) and are 1-2 on the road (beat Kansas State; lost to Baylor and Missouri). They shot .483 from the field in non-conference play but sport a .412 figure in Big 12 games. Tech leads the league with its .437 season 3-point mark and its .779 free throw mark in conference games. It is getting outrebounded by 3.4 boards a game on the year.
The Red Raiders boast a pair of guards who rank in the league’s top 10 in scoring. Senior Jarrius Jackson, a first-team all-conference pick last year, ranks third in the Big 12 with his 20.0 points per game and also averages 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.9 steals. The senior averages 2.6 3-point makes per contest and is shooting .471 from beyond the arc to rank third in the league. Martin Zeno, a left-handed junior, ranks ninth in the Big 12 with his 16.3 points a game and averages team highs in rebounds (5.0) and assists (3.3) while shooting .479 from the floor. Junior Charlie Burgess, another guard who was the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year last season, supplies 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists an outing. Senior forward John Plefka has emerged in conference play, averaging 10.7 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting .571 in Big 12 games.
Bob Knight, in his 41st year as a collegiate head coach, is the all-time winningest coach in men’s Division I with an 884-357 record (.712). He is in his sixth year as Texas Tech’s head coach and owns a 120-68 (.638) record.
OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma holds a 24-16 series lead against Texas Tech, including a 14-5 advantage in Norman. Since the Big 12 was formed (1996-97 was the first season of league competition), OU is 15-8 against Tech and owns a 7-3 record at Lloyd Noble Center.
EARLIER THIS YEAR VERSUS THE RED RAIDERS
Texas Tech won the first meeting this year in Lubbock (Jan. 6) to open Big 12 play, 68-54. Oklahoma shot just .345 from the field, .200 from 3-point range (3-for-15) and .579 from the free throw line (11-for-19) while committing 16 turnovers. Bobby Maze (17 points) and Nate Carter (13) came off the bench to lead OU in scoring as none of Oklahoma’s five starters reached double figures. The Sooners posted a 44-32 rebounding advantage (16 offensive boards to Tech’s five), but the Red Raiders shot .500 from the field after halftime to build on their 26-23 lead at the break. Martin Zeno led Texas Tech with 17 points and six rebounds while Jarrius Jackson added 14 points and Jon Plefka 12 off the bench.
CARTER STEPS UP
In what has to be one of the most remarkable in-season turnarounds in college basketball this season, senior Nate Carter has taken advantage of his increased minutes since the new calendar year. Carter, who averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game prior to Big 12 play, is averaging 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds (both team highs) in 29 minutes per contest over seven league outings. He is shooting .532 from the field and .887 from the free throw line (47-for-53) in conference play, and leads the team with his 28 offensive rebounds (his 4.0 average ranks second in the league). Over the last three games, he is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds while going 32-for-32 at the free throw line. Carter had 53 points over OU’s first 12 games but has tallied 129 over the last seven.
MORE ON CARTER
Nate Carter scored 13 points in OU’s Big 12 opener at Texas Tech and has increased his Big 12 scoring average in each game since. The lefty recorded 15 points versus Colorado, 18 at Texas, 19 against Nebraska, 22 versus Baylor, 23 at Oklahoma State and 19 at Texas A&M. Prior to OU’s game at Texas on Jan. 13, the most points Carter scored in an OU uniform was 16 last year against Oral Roberts. He has surpassed that total in each of the last five league contests.
Carter (18.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg) is one of three players who average at least 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in Big 12 play. Texas’ Kevin Durant averages 33.3 and 14.4 while Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan averages 18.7 and 8.5.
CROCKER AMONG BIG 12’S TOP FRESHMEN
Tony Crocker is having one of the better freshman campaigns in recent OU memory. The guard is the only Sooner who has started every game and owns season averages of 9.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting .477 from the field and .780 from the free throw line in 25 minutes a game. He ranks seventh among Big 12 freshmen in scoring.
Crocker 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.
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 11.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds (ranks eighth in Big 12), 1.2 blocks (ranks eighth) and his .592 field goal mark.
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), and was named Big 12 Co-Player of the Week. 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 76 more points this year (203) than he scored over his first two seasons combined (127).
KEITH 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. He underwent surgery Jan. 11 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.
The Sooners’ defense has been suffocating at times this year, as evidenced by opponents’ 57.2 points per game and .381 combined field goal percentage. The last time OU gave up less than 57.2 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 .381 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).
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 Conference with its +7.0 rebounding margin per game and has been outrebounded just twice over the last 16 contests. The importance of rebounding is illustrated in the fact that OU is 11-3 when it has outboarded its opponents and 1-5 when it hasn’t. In their victories, the Sooners have outrebounded their foes by 11.7 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 seven Big 12 games. OU is averaging 11.6 turnovers per conference outing (ranks second in Big 12) and recorded an eight-turnover game at Texas A&M last Saturday (it did not commit a turnover in the second half). The Sooners, who also lead the conference (Big 12 games) with a 1.22 assist-to-turnover ratio, are 9-1 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 124-46 (.729) all-time record against Baylor (30-5), Texas (45-23), Texas A&M (25-2) and Texas Tech (24-16). Since the inception of the Big 12, OU is 21-0 against Baylor, 16-9 versus Texas, 20-2 against Texas A&M and 15-8 versus Texas Tech for a combined 72-19 (.791) record.
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has been overly kind to the Sooners, as they have won 41 of the last 44 games and 89 of the last 96 in the building. Oklahoma finished 14-1 at home last year after also going 14-1 in 2004-05. OU is 408-66 (.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.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Following are some notes about Oklahoma through 11 games of play at Lloyd Noble Center this year...
Oklahoma is holding opponents to 48.5 points a contest (six foes have scored less than 50 points). It is outscoring its opponents 75.4.0 to 48.5 at Lloyd Noble Center (a margin of 26.9 points a game).
The Sooners are shooting .503 at home while opponents have shot .338.
OU is outboarding visiting foes by a 39.5 to 28.9 count (+10.5).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting .632 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 12.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists at home while shooting .521 from the field.
Austin Johnson is shooting .462 from 3-point range (18-for-39) and sports a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Opponents have racked up 192 turnovers (17.5 average) to just 97 assists (8.8 average).
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING
The following notes compare Oklahoma’s stats in wins and losses this year...
In its 12 wins this year OU is outrebounding its opponents by 11.7 a game. In its eight losses it is getting outboarded by 0.1.
OU is shooting .498 from the field in its wins but only .390 in its defeats.
Opponents are shooting just .325 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 +1.3 (201 assists and 155 turnovers). The ratio in losses is 0.8 (96 and 126).
Longar Longar is averaging 14.7 points and 7.6 rebounds in the Sooners’ wins but just 5.9 points and 5.6 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.