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Sooners Set for Big 12 Championship
March 12, 2014
No. 2 seed Oklahoma (23-8, 12-6) vs. No. 7 seed Baylor (22-10, 9-9)
 Date & Tip Time Thursday, March 13 at 6:07 p.m. CT
 Location Kansas City, Mo. | Sprint Center
 TV Big 12 Network
 Radio Sooner Radio Network 
KRXO 107.7 FM, KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
Sirius 94, XM 193
 Webcast ESPN3
 Live Stats Big12Sports.com
 Game Info Game Notes (PDF)

CHAMPIONSHIP BASICS
The recipient of a first-round bye for the 12th time in 18 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships, No. 17/18 Oklahoma (23-8 overall, 12-6 Big 12) is the No. 2 seed in this year’s event, to be played Wednesday through Saturday at Sprint Center in Kansas City.  Kansas, OU, Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State and West Virginia are the top six seeds, respectively, and will not play in Wednesday’s first round.

OU will begin its quest for a fourth Big 12 tournament title on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT against No. 7 seed Baylor.  If the Sooners win on Thursday, they will play a semifinals contest Friday at 8:30 p.m. against Texas or West Virginia. Saturday’s championship game will start at 8 p.m.

All of Oklahoma’s Big 12 Championship games will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM and KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa; Sirius 94 and XM 193 on Thursday) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck calling the action. OU’s Thursday quarterfinals contest and Friday’s semifinals game will be televised by the Big 12 Network (KOCB Ch. 34 in OKC; KMYT Ch. 41 in Tulsa).  Announcers for Thursday’s game will be Dave Armstrong, Reid Gettys and Holly Rowe.  Friday’s contest and Saturday’s title game (ESPN) will be announced by Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and Rowe.

Complete Release (PDF) | Schedule | Media Guide | Tickets

SEVEN TOP STORYLINES
• Oklahoma went 7-1 during the regular season versus teams on its side of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship bracket.  The Sooners swept potential quarterfinals opponents Baylor and TCU, as well as potential semifinals foe Texas.  OU lost in overtime at West Virginia Feb. 5 but avenged the defeat with a 10-point home win last Wednesday.

• This week’s No. 17 AP and No. 18 USA Today Coaches Poll rankings are Oklahoma’s highest of the season.  The last time the Sooners were ranked as high as No. 17 in the AP Poll was Nov. 17, 2009.

• After averaging 70.6 points per game last season, this year’s Sooners are averaging 82.5 points to rank eighth nationally out of 345 teams.  The last time OU averaged more than 82.5 points per game for an entire season was in 1993-94 (87.4 ppg in Billy Tubbs’ last year as head coach).  OU has scored at least 80 points 18 times this year after doing it 17 times the previous three years combined.

• Oklahoma’s 23 regular season wins are tied for its fourth most in the 18-year history of the Big 12.  OU also had 23 wins heading into the league championship in 2000-01 and 2004-05.  The only seasons that the Sooners racked up more regular season wins in the Big 12 era were 1999-00 (24) and 2001-02 (24) under Kelvin Sampson and 2008-09 (27) under Jeff Capel.

• In Big 12 play, OU led the league in free throw percentage (.772), 3-point field goal percentage (.383), 3-pointers per game (9.2) and defensive rebound percentage (.708).  It ranked second in scoring offense (79.0 ppg), scoring margin (+4.6 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.3).

• At 9-5, Oklahoma has the best record away from home of any Big 12 team this season (OU went 5-4 in true road games and is 4-1 at neutral sites).  The Sooners went 5-4 in Big 12 road play after going a combined 5-21 the previous three years.  Buddy Hield averaged 19.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in Big 12 road play while shooting .512 from the field and .467 from long range (35-for-75).

• Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team and one of just nine squads in the country to start the same lineup every game this season.  Those five players are all averaging at least 9.9 points per contest (Hield 16.8, Cameron Clark 15.2, Isaiah Cousins 11.0, Jordan Woodard 10.3 and Ryan Spangler 9.9).  The quintet has accounted for 77 percent of the team’s points on the year.

KRUGER NAMED AP BIG 12 COACH OF THE YEAR
Recognized for the job he’s done in leading Oklahoma to a 23-8 overall record and a second-place finish in the conference, Lon Kruger was named the 2014 AP Big 12 Coach of the Year on Monday.  In his third season with the Sooners, Kruger took an OU team that lost 68 percent of its scoring from last season’s 20-12 squad and directed it to a 12-6 Big 12 mark.  The Sooners were picked in a tie for fifth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll.

"This award is very obviously a reflection of how well our guys have played, the progress they’ve made and the strong finish they had to the regular season," said Kruger. "Now the challenge is to continue to get better and finish strong in the postseason."

HIELD HEADLINES OU INDIVIDUAL BIG 12 PLAYER HONORS
Four Sooners were honored Sunday with All-Big 12 awards, as chosen by the league’s head coaches.  Sophomore guard Buddy Hield was named a second-team All-Big 12 selection, senior forward Cameron Clark was a third-team pick and sophomore forward Ryan Spangler was an honorable mention choice.  Senior forward Tyler Neal was named co-sixth man of the year (with Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte).

SOONERS AIDED BY STELLAR 3-POINT SHOOTING
• Oklahoma leads the Big 12 with its 8.4 3-pointers per game, the Sooners’ highest average since 1998-99 (8.6).  In conference play, OU averaged 9.2 makes a contest, the second most by any Big 12 team over the last seven seasons (Iowa State averaged 10.6 makes in league play last season).

• The Sooners’ 11 games of at least 10 3-point makes are their most in 14 years (had 12 games of double-digit 3-pointers in 1999-00).  For perspective, OU had six such games the previous three years combined. The team is 11-0 this year when making at least 10 treys.

• OU has made at least 10 treys in six of the last eight games (averaging 10.4 in those eight) and has outscored its opponents in those eight contests 249-141 from behind the arc (an average of +13.5 points per game).  Over the last three games (all wins), the Sooners outscored Texas, West Virginia and TCU 105-33 from deep (an average of +24.0 points per contest).

• On the year, OU is the only Big 12 team with six players who have each made at least 20 3-pointers.  Iowa State has five players who have made at least 20 treys while Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia have four.  Every other team has three or fewer players who have reached 20 makes.  Buddy Hield leads OU with 86 3-pointers and is followed by Frank Booker (39), Isaiah Cousins (33), Cameron Clark (31), Tyler Neal (31) and Jordan Woodard (24). 

EARLIER THIS YEAR VS. BAYLOR
• Oklahoma swept the two-game regular season series with Baylor, winning 66-64 Jan. 18 in Waco and 88-72 Feb. 8 in Norman.  The Bears were ranked No. 12 in the AP poll in the first meeting and were unranked in the second.

• In Waco, Buddy Hield was 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-8 from 3-point range after halftime to account for all of his game-high 19 points.  The Sooners trailed by eight points early in the second half before using a 16-0 run to help snap Baylor’s 13-game home winning streak.  Cameron Clark added 14 points while Jordan Woodard contributed 10 points and eight assists.

• In Norman, OU shot a season-high .536 from the field and made a season-high 14 3-pointers (shot .483), its most in 126 games.  The Sooners shot .640 from the field (16-for-25) and .611 from 3-point range (11-for-18) in the first half.  They also posted a 35-30 rebounding advantage against a Baylor team that entered the day with a +7.5-per-game board margin and that had been outrebounded just four times all season.  Isaiah Cousins scored a then-career high 21 points (3-for-4 from 3-point range) and Hield added 19 (5-for-8 from behind the arc).

SOONER TIP-INS
• Senior Tyler Neal and junior D.J. Bennett were named to this year’s Big 12 All-Academic Team.  Neal was a first-team honoree (recognized for his 4.0 GPA) while Bennett earned second-team acclaim.  It was the third honor for Neal (second as a first-teamer).

• This season marks the first since 2009-10 that Oklahoma has been ranked in the AP or USA Today Coaches Top 25 Polls.  OU has appeared in six AP polls this season and in seven coaches polls.  OU made its season debut in the AP poll Jan. 13, its first appearance in either poll since Nov. 23, 2009.

• This marks Oklahoma’s second straight 20-win campaign (went 20-12 last year) after registering 15 or fewer wins each of the previous three seasons.  OU has won at least 20 games 26 times in the last 33 seasons.  Lon Kruger has won 20 or more games 14 times (seven times in the last eight years).

• The Sooners shot better from the free throw line than their opponent in 14 of 18 Big 12 games.

• Sophomore forward Ryan Spangler has recorded 15 double-digit rebounding games.  Last year’s entire roster combined for seven.

• Last year, the OU foursome of Cameron Clark (1-for-1), Isaiah Cousins (10-for-40; .250), Buddy Hield (19-for-80; .238) and Tyler Neal (6-for-23; .261) combined to go 36-for-144 (.250) from 3-point range.  This year they have teamed to go 181-for-443 (.409).   Clark is 31-for-71 (.437), Cousins is 33-for-84 (.393), Hield is 86-for-214 (.402) and Neal is 31-for-74 (.419).

• Clark joined OU’s 1,000-point club Dec. 30 against Louisiana Tech and ranks 21st on the all-time scoring list with 1,240 points.  He needs just five points to tie Al Beal for 20th and 38 to tie Blake Griffin for 19th.

• Freshman Jordan Woodard ranks sixth in the Big 12 in free throw makes (139) and seventh in attempts (179).  Named the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week on Dec. 17, Woodard is averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 assists (leads all Big 12 freshmen and ranks sixth overall) while ranking fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) and eighth in free throw percentage (.777).  He enjoyed a five-game stretch from Jan. 25 through Feb. 8 where he averaged 15.0 points and 6.2 assists.

• After averaging 2.7 points last season and never scoring more than 10 points in a game prior to Nov. 22 of this year, Cousins has scored in double figures in 16 of the last 28 contests.  The sophomore guard shot .279 from the field and .250 (10 makes) from 3-point distance a year ago but is shooting .447 and .393 (29 makes) this season.

• Neal registered no double-digit scoring efforts last season as a junior but has eight this year.  The Big 12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year is shooting .449 from the field and .419 from 3-point range after shooting .214 and .261 last season.  In home games, he was 18-for-38 (.474) from 3-point range.

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