OU vs. Saint Louis in 76 Classic Title Game

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 27, 2011

  Andrew Fitzgerald
 Oklahoma (4-0) vs. Saint Louis (5-0)
 Date & Tip Time  Sunday, Nov. 27, at 8 p.m. CT
 Location  Anaheim, Calif. | Anaheim Convention Center Arena
 Tickets  Ticketmaster
 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
 Webcast  ESPN3.com
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Oklahoma (4-0) meets Saint Louis (5-0) in the 76 Classic championship game on Sunday at 8 p.m. CT in Anaheim, Calif.  The Sooners advanced to the title contest with wins over Washington State (74-59) and Santa Clara (85-73), while Saint Louis posted victories against Boston College (62-51) and Villanova (80-68).  Sunday’s contest, the third of three over a four-day span for each team at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Chuck Cooperstein and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham calling the action.

Oklahoma scored the last 18 points of the first half and first two of the second to take a 44-19 lead and survived a late Santa Clara rally to win 85-73 in the second round of the 76 Classic on Friday night.  The Sooners’ 20-0 run spanned the final 5:11 of the first half and first 10 seconds of the second half and put them ahead by 25 points.  The Broncos, with the help of 11 second-half 3-pointers, reduced the margin to six (79-73) before OU netted the game’s final six points at the free throw line.  Oklahoma junior guard Steven Pledger scored 26 points, the second most of his career, on 10-for-15 field goal and 4-for-8 3-point shooting, and added a career-high seven rebounds.  Andrew Fitzgerald notched his second career double-double with 12 points and a career-high-tying 13 boards, while fellow junior forward Romero Osby fell one point shy of his third double-double of the year (a career-high-tying 10 rebounds).  Junior point guard Sam Grooms tallied 12 points, five boards and six assists against just one turnover.  Santa Clara point guard Evan Roquemore was 7-for-11 from 3-point range and finished with 27 points and 10 assists.

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• Oklahoma posted a 49-33 rebounding advantage.  Its 15 offensive rebounds resulted in 16 second-chance points.
• OU held Santa Clara to 19 first-half points, the same total the Sooners allowed Washington State in Thursday’s second half.
• Oklahoma’s Andrew Fitzgerald (nine) and Romero Osby (seven) had five more first-half rebounds (16) than Santa Clara (11).
• After shooting .250 (3-for-12) from behind the 3-point line and scoring 19 points in the first half, Santa Clara shot .524 (11-for-21) from long distance and scored 54 points after halftime.
Evan Roquemore’s 10 assists for Santa Clara tied a 76 Classic record shared by several players, including Oklahoma’s Sam Grooms (vs. Washington State on Thursday).

Steven Pledger (20.0 ppg) leads six Sooners who are averaging at least 9.0 points per game this week at the 76 Classic.  He is followed by Calvin Newell (13.0), Cameron Clark (11.0), Andrew Fitzgerald (10.5), Sam Grooms (10.5) and Romero Osby (9.0).  Fitzgerald and Osby rank first and second in the tournament by averaging 10.0 and 8.0 rebounds, respectively.
• Grooms leads the tournament with his 16 assists in two games.  He needs four assists against Saint Louis to tie the three-game tournament record of 20 set in 2007 by Tyler Dierkers of Miami (Ohio).  With only two turnovers this week, Grooms boasts a tournament-high-tying 8.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, and also shares the event lead with 16 free throw attempts.
• The Sooners are averaging a tournament-high 79.5 points this week while holding their foes to a tourney-low .383 field goal mark.  OU also leads the tournament with its +6.5 average rebounding margin.
• Three of OU’s top four scorers this week are shooting .500 or better from the field.  Pledger leads the team with a .609 mark (14-for-23), Newell is shooting .524 and Fitzgerald .500.
• Pledger (7-for-14) and Newell (4-for-10) are shooting a combined .458 from 3-point range.
• A win against Saint Louis on Sunday would give the Sooners their first tournament victory since taking the 16-team NIT Season Tip-Off in the 2008-09 season (Blake Griffin’s national-player-of-the-year campaign)..

 Sooner to Watch 

 Steven Pledger | Jr. | Guard
 • Ranks second in Big 12 with his 20.0 points per game and third in treys per outing (3.3)
 • Shooting a team-high .595 from the field and .455 from behind the arc
 • Scored 26 points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds Friday against Santa Clara  
• Has scored at least 20 points in two of his three outings this year (three times last year)


Atlantic 10 Conference member Saint Louis enters Sunday’s 76 Classic championship game with a 5-0 record.  The Billikens, who finished 12-19 last season, posted a 62-51 first-round win over Boston College on Thursday and an 80-68 second-round victory over Villanova on Friday.  They’ve also posted home wins over Tennessee State (71-37) and Washington (77-64), as well as a road victory over Southern Illinois (61-42).  Picked to finish third in this year’s A-10 race by league coaches and a recipient of votes this week in both major top-25 polls, SLU leads the 76 Classic with its two-game .466 field goal percentage and by allowing just 59.5 points per contest.

The Billikens return all five starters and seven additional players from last season.  Three of them are averaging double figures in points this year.  Senior forward Brian Conklin averages team highs of 15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest while shooting .587 from the field.  He also leads the squad with 23 free throw makes and 29 attempts (.793).  Conklin scored a career-high 25 points in the Nov. 20 win over Washington.  Junior point guard Kwamain Mitchell is averaging 13.0 points and a team-high 4.6 assists per outing.  The owner of a 5.8 assist-to-turnover ratio and maker of a team-high 12 3-pointers, Mitchell scored 20 points against Boston College.  Junior forward Cody Ellis comes off the bench to supply 10.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 21.0 minutes a game.  He hit three 3-pointers against Villanova and finished with a season-high 14 points.

Saint Louis is under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rick Majerus, who is 74-61 (.548) at the school.  The former head coach at Marquette, Ball State and Utah, Majerus is in his 25th year overall and owns a 496-208 (.705) career record.  He coached Utah to the 1998 national championship game (lost to Kentucky).

Oklahoma holds a 2-1 record against Saint Louis.  The teams first met during the 1946-47 season in an NCAA District Playoff game in Kansas City, Mo.  The Sooners won that contest 47-41 and eventually advanced to the national championship game under head coach Bruce Drake (lost to Holy Cross, 58-47).  OU and SLU played a home-and-home series in the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons, with the Billikens winning 46-43 in St. Louis and the Sooners winning 62-54 in Norman the next year.

This week’s 76 Classic is the second straight for first-year OU head coach Lon Kruger.  Last year, Kruger directed UNLV to the 76 Classic title with a 3-0 record.  The Runnin’ Rebels defeated Tulsa (80-71), Murray State (69-55) and Virginia Tech (71-59) to claim the crown.

• Through four games, Oklahoma is averaging 82.2 points and holding opponents to 67.8 per contest.  Last year, the Sooners averaged 66.0 points while allowing 68.7 per game.  After recording a season high of 84 points last year, OU has already scored 85 points twice in four games this season.
• The Sooners’ pressure defense under new head coach Lon Kruger has boosted the team’s offense through three regular season games.  Opponents have averaged 16.5 turnovers, resulting in an average of 18.3 points per contest for OU on the other end of the floor.
• Junior college transfer Sam Grooms ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with his 6.3 assists per game (Texas’ J’Covan Brown averages 6.4) and leads the league with his 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio (25 assists and seven turnovers).
• Rebounding was mentioned by Kruger several times in the preseason as a concern of his for 2011-12.  However, OU has outboarded its four regular season opponents by an average of 12.8 a contest to lead the Big 12.  Included were a +34 effort against Coppin State (61-27) and a +16 margin against Santa Clara (49-33).  The Sooners own a 74-47 offensive rebounding advantage on the year and have scored 62 second-chance points to their opponents’ 33.
• Kruger has spread the wealth when it comes to playing time, with eight players averaging at least 13.5 minutes a game and two more averaging at least 9.5.  No Sooner averages more than 30.0 minutes an outing.
• Sophomore guard Calvin Newell has already scored 59 points in four games this year, which represents 55 percent of his point total as a freshman (107).  Newell ranks second on the team with his 14.8 scoring average and leads OU with 23 field goals.  He is playing on the wing this season after serving as a combo guard last year.
• Junior guard Steven Pledger has scored at least 20 points in two of his three games this season (14 in the other).  In 32 games last year, Pledger scored 20 or more just three times.  He is shooting a team-high .595 from the field this year after shooting a combined .386 his first two seasons.  Pledger ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring, third in 3-pointers per game (3.3), fourth in field goal percentage and fifth in 3-point percentage (.455).
• Junior forward Romero Osby has grabbed 10 rebounds in three of his first four games.  He ranks second in the Big 12 with his 3.8 offensive boards per contest.
• OU’s Friday win over Santa Clara leaves Kruger just 17 victories shy of 500 for his career.  He ranks second among current Big 12 head coaches with 483 career wins (Texas’ Rick Barnes has 527 victories).



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