After eliminating No. 8 seed Iowa State with a 68-63 victory on Thursday in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, the No. 9 seed Oklahoma Sooners will face regular season league champion Kansas in a quarterfinals game Friday at 11:30 a.m. CST in Oklahoma City. OU broke a six-game losing streak with its win over the Cyclones and improved to 16-14 overall. Kansas, 27-4 overall and 14-2 in conference play, has won eight straight games and is ranked No. 2 in the nation.
If Oklahoma wins on Friday, it will play a semifinals contest Saturday at 1 p.m. Sunday’s championship game will start at 2 p.m.
All of OU’s Big 12 Championship games will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. Friday’s contest will be televised by ESPN Plus (KOCB channel 34 in Oklahoma City and KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa) and ESPNU. Saturday’s semifinal contests will be televised by ESPN Plus in Big 12 markets and by ESPN2 outside of the region. Sunday’s championship game will be shown nationally by ESPN.
Date: Friday, March 9
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Ford Center)
Tip: 11:37 a.m. CST
TV: ESPN Plus (KOCB 34/Cox 11 in OKC; KJRH 2/Cox 9 in Tulsa) and ESPNU
TV Talent: Fred White and Paul Splittorff
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (Flagship KOKC 1520 AM in OKC); Yahoo! Broadcast (subscription)
Radio Talent: Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck
Series: Kansas leads 131-64
Last Meeting: Kansas won 67-65 (Feb. 26 in Norman)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 6.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
G 3 Bobby Maze (6-3, 175, Fr., 5.9 ppg, 2.0 apg)
G 15 David Godbold (6-5, 215, Jr., 7.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
KANSAS PROJECTED STARTERS
F 30 Julian Wright (6-8, 225, So., 12.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
C 24 Sasha Kaun (6-11, 245, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
G 3 Russell Robinson (6-1, 200, Jr., 7.0 ppg, 4.5 apg)
G 15 Mario Chalmers (6-1, 195, So., 12.1 ppg, 3.3 apg)
G 25 Brandon Rush (6-6, 210, So., 13.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
OKLAHOMA IN THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Sooners are now 41-23 (.641) in conference postseason action (18-7 in 10 seasons of the Big 12 format). Oklahoma has participated in 12 tournament championship games, including five of the last nine, and has won seven crowns. OU won Big 12 titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and earned Big Eight titles in 1979, 1985, 1988 and 1990.
OKLAHOMA-KANSAS SERIES HISTORY
Kansas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks own a 131-64 series advantage and are 6-4 in conference postseason tournament action (OU leads 2-1 in the Big 12 format). The Sooners had won three of the last four overall meetings and four of the last six prior to last year’s 59-58 defeat in Lawrence and this year’s 67-65 loss in Norman. OU is 4-10 against Kansas since the formation of the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks beat the Sooners in the 1988 national championship game, 83-79 inside Kansas City’s Kemper Arena.
OU-KANSAS BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
1998 Championship Game: Kansas 72, Oklahoma 58 (Kansas City)
2001 Semifinals: Oklahoma 62, Kansas 57 (Kansas City)
2002 Championship Game: Oklahoma 64, Kansas 55 (Kansas City)
Kansas held on for a 67-65 victory against OU on Feb. 26 in Norman. The Jayhays, ranked third nationally at the time, led by 17 points late in the first half before the Sooners rallied to tie the game at 51-51 on a Michael Neal 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining. KU shot 16 free throws in the final 5:28, however, and made 12 of them to win their seventh straight. OU almost pulled the upset despite shooting a season-low .333 from the field, getting outrebounded 41-36 and surrendering 34 free throw attempts (32 in the second half). It held Kansas to just one 3-pointer on the night and forced 16 turnovers.
Nate Carter registered a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, and went 12-for-13 at the free throw line. Taylor Griffin, making his first start in more than a month, recorded 12 points (his highest total in 13 games), seven rebounds and a career-high-tying three blocks. He also tied career highs with six free throw makes and seven attempts. Kansas was led by Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright, who both finished with 18 points. Sasha Kaun added 11 points and a team-high nine boards.
OU’s 46 second-half points tied as its most in a half since scoring 54 in the first period of the season opener against Norfolk State. Kansas, which was held to 12 points below its season average, had beaten its previous six opponents by an average of 29 points.
BIG 12 FIRST ROUND: OKLAHOMA 68, IOWA STATE 63
Oklahoma avenged a 58-51 loss in Ames on Feb. 13 (the teams’ only regular season meeting).
The game marked just the fourth first-round victory by a No. 9 seed in the 11-year history of the Big 12 Championship.
The Sooners led for 39 minutes and 31 seconds of the 40-minute game. Iowa State took its only lead at 56-55 with 4:37 remaining but was outscored 13-7 down the stretch.
OU led 35-23 at halftime and by as many as 14 in the second half. It won despite tying a season low with 18 field goals.
Nate Carter registered game highs of 22 points and nine rebounds. He was 12-for-13 from the free throw line.
Tony Crocker posted his second straight double-figure scoring performance after being held to fewer than 10 points in 13 of the previous 14 outings. His 15 points were his most since scoring 16 against Colorado in the second Big 12 game of the year (Jan. 10).
Taylor Griffin scored in double figures for the second time in three games after going the previous 11 contests without reaching double digits. He also grabbed seven rebounds in his season-high 36 minutes.
OU’s eight turnovers tied a season low. Its 27 free throw makes were a season high and its 34 attempts tied a season high.
Michael Neal, the only Sooner to start all 16 conference games, did not play due to a stomach virus.
A WIN ON FRIDAY WOULD...
Improve OU’s all-time Big 12 Championship record to 19-7 (.731).
Up OU’s all-time conference postseason tournament mark against Kansas to 5-6 (3-1 in the Big 12 Championship).
Give Oklahoma a victory against its highest ranked opponent since beating No. 1-ranked Kansas in the 2002 Big 12 Championship title game in Kansas City (64-55).
Give the Sooners their eighth Big 12 semifinals appearance in the 11-year history of the event.
Improve OU’s record inside the Ford Center to 8-1.
NATE CARTER NOTES
Nate Carter’s 22 points on Thursday gave him his 17th double-digit scoring game in the last 18 contests.
Carter, who leads the Big 12 with his .863 season free throw percentage, has made 85 of his last 92 attempts (.924) against league competition. He went 12-for-13 three games ago against Kansas and again on Thursday versus Iowa State.
Carter has only one double-double this season but has fallen one rebound shy of the feat in six games.
Carter is averaging 16.8 points and7.2 rebounds against Big 12 teams after averaging 4.4 and 2.3 against non-conference foes.
Carter set a school record earlier this year by making 37 straight free throw attempts (Hollis Price held the old record of 36).
Sixty-six of Carter’s 154 rebounds this year have been offensive (42 percent).
Carter was the only Sooner to earn All-Big 12 honors (he was a third-team all-league selection).
Including his two-year stint at UC Riverside, Carter has scored 1,337 career points.
Tony Crocker has gone 3-for-4 from 3-point range in each of the last two games to boost his season figure to a team-high .366.
Taylor Griffin has four more points (24) over the last three games than he had over the previous seven games (20).
David Godbold is averaging 11.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals over the last six games (five starts).
Godbold ranks seventh on the team with 12 starts but has played a team-high 842 minutes (58 more than the closest teammate).
Bobby Maze has made his four lone career starts in the last five games (did not start Senior Night versus Kansas) and is averaging 7.3 points and 2.5 assists in those contests.
Longar Longar is averaging 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per contest over the last six games. He averaged 16.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over a four-game span (posted three double-doubles) prior to the last six outings.
Longar has 21 blocked shots over the last 12 games.
Michael Neal had attempted at least two 3-point field goals in each of his 53 games as a Sooner prior to Saturday’s contest at Kansas State when he attempted none.
The Sooners are holding opponents to a .403 field goal mark on the year. The last time OU allowed foes to shoot less than .403 for an entire season was in 1960-61 (a span of 46 years).
Oklahoma had been outrebounded in five of the last six games prior to outboarding Iowa State 32-29 on Thursday. OU has been outrebounded just nine times in 30 games this year.
OU has shot .781 from the free throw line over its last 12 games against Big 12 opponents (171-for-219).
In its 16 wins, Oklahoma is holding opponents to 51.2 points a game and to a .350 field goal mark. Twelve of those 16 opponents have failed to shoot .400.
After averaging 15.8 turnovers in non-conference play, the Sooners have averaged just 12.4 against league competition.
OU owns the second-best Big 12 Championship record at 18-7 (Kansas is 19-6).
Seven different Sooners have led or tied for the team lead in assists over the past eight games.
No opponent has scored more than 80 points against OU this year and only two have shot .500 or better from the field.
Prior to Thursday when OU shot 34 free throws to Iowa State’s 19, opponents were averaging 23.1 free throw attempts over the past seven games compared to the Sooners’ 14.9.
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.