SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS
Oklahoma (6-7, 0-2 Big 12) heads to the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kan., in search of its first win inside Bramlage Colliseum since 2012. Both the Sooners and Kansas State (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) are coming off of close road losses this past weekend. Oklahoma fell to TCU, 60-57, in Fort Worth while the Wildcats lost on a last second bucket, 90-88, to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. Saturday’s meeting with K-State is the third game in a loaded five-game stretch to open Big 12 play. OU’s first five opponents (No. 2/4 Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, No. 3/2 Kansas and Texas Tech) combine for a record of 63-7.
ON THE AIR
Saturday’s game tips off at 2 p.m. CT and airs on the Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNEWS with Mitch Holthus and Bryndon Manzer calling the action.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
•One of the youngest teams in both the Big 12 and the nation, Oklahoma has seen its freshmen and sophomores play a large role for the Sooners this season. The Sooner roster boasts 11 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) – the most of any OU team in the Lon Kruger era and the most of any Big 12 roster this season. The young Sooners have received ample experience through their first two Big 12 contests. OU freshmen have played a total of 176 minutes (most in Big 12) and have scored 43.9 percent of OU’s points in Big 12 play. Sooner underclassmen rank second in the Big 12 in total minutes played in conference competition (318) and have scored 72.0 percent of Oklahoma’s points the past two games.
• Through two conference games, the Sooners’ top three scorers have been newcomers off the bench. Freshman guard Kameron McGusty has averaged a team-best 10.0 points over the past two games while redshirt freshman forward Matt Freeman has shot 3-of-6 from 3-point range to average 8.5 points. JUCO transfer junior guard Darrion Strong-Moore has averaged 8.0 points since the start of conference play. The Sooner bench has averaged 29.5 points the past two games. Overall this season, the Oklahoma bench has outscored the opposing bench in 10 of OU’s 13 games.
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger played for Kansas State from 1970-74. He was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974. In 2003, Kruger was inducted into the Kansas State Hall of Fame. His number was retired at K-State in 2006.
• The Sooners have won or tied the turnover margin in 10 of its 13 games this season. Oklahoma is averaging 8.2 steals per game (31st in NCAA) and forcing 15.5 turnovers a contest (56th in NCAA). The Sooners are blocking 5.1 shots per contest (43rd in NCAA).
•The Sooners look to snap a five-game losing streak and return to a .500 winning percentage on Saturday against Kansas State. Despite losing seven games this season, the Sooners have found themselves with a chance to win in almost every contest this year. Oklahoma has led at halftime in five of its seven losses and has led at the half in both true road games this season (at Wisconsin on Dec. 3 and at TCU on Jan. 3). Five of OU’s seven losses have been decided by six points or less.
LOOKING BACK AT TCU
• Oklahoma (6-7, 0-2 Big 12) suffered its first road conference loss of the season to TCU (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) on Tuesday. With the 60-57 loss, the Sooners are now 18-3 all-time against the Horned Frogs, including 8-2 in Fort Worth.
• The Sooners led for over 35 minutes in their second true road game of the year, but the Horned Frogs used a 12-0 run late in the contest to come back and win.
• For the second time this season, three Sooner reserves scored in double figures. Freshman guard Kameron McGusty led Oklahoma’s scoring efforts with 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Junior guard Darrion Strong-Moore and freshman forward Matt Freeman produced 10 points each on a combined 8-of-14 shooting.
• Strong-Moore’s 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting marked a career high and the first double-digit scoring performance at OU. The Sooners’ five scholarship newcomers have all scored in double digits at least once this season.
• Oklahoma’s reserves scored 35 points. The Sooners scored 25 bench points in the first half - its most in an opening half this season.
• The Sooners pulled down 12 offensive boards and scored a season-high-tying 17 second chance points.
• OU forced 16 TCU turnovers, including 10 off of steals. The Sooners have forced 15 or more opponent miscues in eight games this season and have forced more turnovers than they surrendered in all but three games.
• Of Oklahoma’s 57 points, 41 came from freshmen and sophomores. The freshmen trio of Kristian Doolittle, Freeman and McGusty combined for 29 points. Eight players in their first two seasons at OU totaled 51 points on the evening.
OU head coach Lon Kruger is a member of the Kansas State Hall of Fame. He was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974 while playing for K-State.
NEW ROLES AND NEW FACES
• After losing the senior trio of Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler, the Sooners are looking to a roster that features 11 underclassmen (most of the Kruger era) to continue its development and growth as the season progresses. OU has benefited from a dramatic increase in scoring from guards Christian James and Rashard Odomes. After averaging 2.9 points per game in 2015-16, James is the second leading scorer for the Sooners through nine games, scoring 11.5 points per game on .421 shooting from the field and .480 from 3-point range (third in Big 12). James is the only returning Big 12 player to average less than 3.0 points in 2015-16 and over 12.0 points in 2016-17.
•Oklahoma has seen potential from all four of its scholarship freshmen as the youngest Sooners have combined to produce nine games of double-digit scoring - most recently an 11-point showing from Kameron McGusty against TCU (Jan. 3).
• Oklahoma and Kansas State will face off for the 204th time with the Sooners leading the all-time series 106-97.
• The Wildcats own a 59-36 advantage over OU when playing in Manhattan. K-State has won the last four games against Oklahoma inside Bramlage Coliseum.
• OU and K-State split the season series in 2015-16 with the home team winning each contest. The Sooners won, 86-76, in Norman while the unranked Wildcats upset No. 1 OU, 80-69, in Manhattan.
• Oklahoma and Kansas will face off for the 211th time on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. CT inside Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. The 210 previous meetings between the two programs mark the second most contests against any opponent in Oklahoma history. The Sooners have only faced Oklahoma State (231 games) more times than the Jayhawks.
• Kansas leads the overall series, 144-66. The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team to own a winning record all-time against the Sooners. KU leads the series in Norman, 49-42.
• The Jayhawks swept the Sooners last season in two closely-contested matchups that included a triple-overtime thriller at Allen Fieldhouse. Buddy Hield scored 46 points in the 109-106 loss and shot 8-of-15 from 3-point range.