Sooners Open Big 12 Play at No. 10 TCU
SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS
No. 12/12 Oklahoma (10-1, 0-0 Big 12) opens Big 12 play against No. 10/8 TCU (12-0, 0-0 Big 12) on Saturday at 1 p.m. OU is 4-2 in Big 12 openers under Lon Kruger and has opened conference play with a win in four of the past five seasons.
Oklahoma brings in an 8-game winning streak while the Horned Frogs have not lost in 17 games, dating back to last season. OU’s trip to No. 10 TCU (the Frogs’ highest-ever AP Top 25 ranking), marks the Sooners’ second road game against a top-10 opponent (OU defeated No. 3 Wichita State, 91-83, on Dec. 16). Oklahoma has won three of its past five road games against top-10 teams. A Sooner victory would make Oklahome the first team in over 20 years to win two road games against top-10 opponents before the end of December.
ON THE AIR
Saturday’s matchup will air 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 broadcasted nationally on ESPN2 with Mark Neely and Reid Gettys calling the action.
• The Sooners bring the nation’s highest-scoring offense and an eight-game winning streak into Big 12 play when they face No. 10 TCU on Saturday. Oklahoma averages 95.1 points per game and has scored at least 90 points in eight of its 11 games - including four games in triple digits. OU will be going for its 11th win of the season, which would match its 2016-17 win total (finished 11-20). Oklahoma would be just the 11th team in the past 20 years to win 11 of its first 12 games after losing 20 games in the season before. OU would be the fastest team to match its previous year’s win total (minimum of 11 wins) since Indiana started the 2011-12 season 12-0 after going 12-20 the year before.
• Freshman guard Trae Young leads the country in both scoring (28.7) and assists (10.4). The reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, Young enters Saturday’s contest with 10 straight games of at least 20 points - the longest such streak by a Sooner since Stacey King (11) in 1988-89.
• One major factor to OU’s December success has been its play in the first half. During their last four games (No. 25 USC, No. 3 Wichita State, Northwestern State and Northwestern), the Sooners have scored an average of 55.8 points in the opening half and have gone to halftime with an average lead of 18.3 points. In that same span, OU is putting up first-half averages of 12.0 assists, 9.3 3-pointers and forcing 9.5 turnovers while shooting .541 from the field and .507 from 3-point range.
The Sooners and Horned Frogs went a combined 22-1 during non-conference play.
OKLAHOMA'S LAST TIME OUT
• Oklahoma closed out non-conference play with a 104-78 win over Northwestern. OU outscored the Wildcats 68-38 in the first half, putting up its most points in any half since scoring 75 (first half) against Morehead State on Dec. 27, 1991. The Sooners shot 22-of-32 (.688) from the field, 14-of-20 (.700) from 3-point range and 10-for-10 from the foul line in the opening half while dishing out 16 assists.
• Northwestern entered Friday’s game ranked 30th in the nation in scoring defense and had held its opponents to 54.1 points per game in its last eight contests. The Sooners reached 55 points with 3:52 remaining in the first half.
• Oklahoma was once again led by freshman guard Trae Young. Young started the night with 25 points and 10 assists in 17 minutes in the first half, shooting 7-of-10 from the field and 6-of-8 from 3-point range. Overall, Young produced 31 points and 12 assists in 27 minutes while shooting 9-of-16 and 8-of-13 from the field. Young’s performance was the second time this season he has recorded at least 30 points and 10 assists in a game.
• The Sooners’ 17 made three-pointers matched a program record for treys in a single game, last reached on Jan. 18, 2016, against Iowa State. Young’s eight 3-pointers against Northwestern were the most by a Sooner in a single game since Buddy Hield sank eight on March 26, 2016, against Oregon in the Elite Eight.
• The Sooners shot a season-high .611 (33-54) from the field overall, marking OU’s best field-goal percentage since it shot .620 (31-50) at Baylor on Jan. 23, 2016. Oklahoma also posted a season high .607 (17-28) from behind the arc, the Sooners’ best three-point percentage since it shot .714 (15-21) at West Virginia on Jan. 18, 2017.
• Christian James scored 19 points in Saturday’s contest, all in the first half. The total tied a career high for the junior.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TCU
• Oklahoma owns a 19-4 all-time record against the Horned Frogs and has won 11 of the last 14 meetings. OU leads the series 8-3 since the Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012. The Sooners boast an 8-2 series advantage when playing in Fort Worth.
• The Sooners and Horned Frogs met three times last season, splitting the regular season matchups (home team won both contests) before TCU ended the Sooners season in Kansas City with an 82-63 win in the opening round of the Big 12 Championship. Both of the regular-season meetings came down to the wire with OU outscoring the Frogs, 130-128, in total. TCU took the first game on Jan. 3, 60-57, in Fort Worth while the Sooners won the rematch in Norman on March 4, 73-68. In both games, the losing team had a lead in the final five minutes.
• Sophomore guard Kameron McGusty averaged 14.0 points against the Horned Frogs last season. Fellow sophomore Kristian Doolittle boasts career averages of 12.7 points and 6.7 boards agaisnt TCU.
• Oklahoma has seen strong production from a pair of freshmen already known around the Norman area. Guard Trae Young (Norman) and forward Brady Manek (Harrah) are both local products with numerous high school accolades now in their first season as Sooners. The pair is combining to average 40.0 points per game and enter Friday’s game totaling 140 combined points in the past three games.
• Fueling Oklahoma to a road win over No. 3 Wichita State on Dec. 16 by combining for 50 points, the freshman duo swept the Big 12’s weekly awards for the week of December 11-17 as Young earned Big 12 Player of the Week while Manek was honored as Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. It was the first time the Sooners swept the conference’s weekly awards since Feb. 16, 2009, with Blake Griffin (Player of the Week) and Willie Warren (Newcomer). The duo then led the Sooners to a 2-0 week against Northwestern and Northwestern State to repeat the weekly awards sweep on Dec. 27, marking the first time in Big 12 history that one pair of players from the same school earned both honors in consecutive weeks.
• Young helped lead the Sooners to a 2-0 week by averaging 28.5 points, 17.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 28.0 minutes while shooting 18-of-32 (.563) from the field and 11-of-19 (.579) from 3-point range. His week was highlighted by tying the NCAA record for most assists in a game with 22 dimes against Northwestern State on Tuesday. Young is the fourth player in recorded college basketball history to register 22 assists and the first since Sherman Douglas of Syracuse in 1989.
• Since the NCAA began recording assists in 1983, Young is the only freshman to dish out 20 or more assists in a game. Young is also the first NCAA player to record over 20 points and 20 assists in at least 20 years. Young followed up his historic performance by producing 31 points and 12 assists against Northwestern on Friday, shooting 9-of-16 from the field and 8-of-13 from 3-point range. Young’s performance was the second time this season he has recorded at least 30 points and 10 assists in a game. Per ESPN Stats and Info, Young joins Chris Thomas (2001-02 Notre Dame) as the only players from a major conference in the last 20 seasons to have a pair of 30-point, 10-assist games in the same season.
• Young, who leads the nation in both scoring (28.7 points per game) and assists (10.4 per game), has earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors four times in the first seven weeks of the season (has also earned two Big 12 Newcomer of the Week recognitions). Only two Big 12 players have ever earned the honor more in one season. Oklahoma's Blake Griffin was named the conference's Player of the Week six times in 2008-09 and Texas Tech's Andre Emmett was awarded the honor five times in 2003-04.
• A 6-9 forward from Harrah, Okla., Manek earned the second Big 12 honor of his career by averaging 16.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 19.5 minutes while shooting 12-of-16 from the field (.750) and 6-of-9 (.667) from 3-point range.
• On Tuesday against Northwestern State, Manek scored a career-high 22 points, finishing 9-of-11 (.818) from the field and 4-6 (.667) from behind the arc. The freshman continued to shoot well against Northwestern on Friday, producing 11 points and eight boards in 19 minutes while going 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
PLAY FAST, SCORE BUCKETS
• Oklahoma is off to a 10-1 start behind the highest-scoring offense in the nation. The Sooners average 95.1 points per game and have scored at least 90 points in eight of their 11 games - including four games in triple digits. Oklahoma, who ranked 331 (of 351 teams) in assists per game last season (10.6), is eighth in the country with 19.1 assists per contest this year. The Sooners also rank 10th in made 3-point field goals per game with 11.3 treys.
• The Sooners aren’t just scoring in bunches - they’re playing fast. Oklahoma is fifth in the nation and first among major conferences in KenPom.com’s adjusted tempo rankings (possesions per 40 minutes adjusted to the opponenet) with 78.2. Oklahoma’s average possession is 13.7 seconds long, the fastest among major conferences and fourth-fastest overall.
• Oklahoma is 6-0 when shooting above 50 percent and 6-0 when it hands out at least 20 assists.
• Oklahoma has scored 45 or more points in 14 of its 21 halves this season and has scored at least 42 points before halftime in all but one contest.
• OU opened the season scoring 108 points in wins over Omaha (Nov. 12) and Ball State (Nov. 15). Its just the third time in program history that OU began a season with back-to-back games of at least 100 points. OU’s back-to-back games of triple-digit scoring was its first since December 2001. It is just the third time since 1993 that the Sooners have put together consecutive 100-point showings. The Sooners’ four total games of at least 100 points are their most in a season since 1995-96.
UP NEXT: OKLAHOMA STATE
• The Sooners return to a sold out Lloyd Noble Center for their 234th meeting with Oklahoma State. The Bedlam matchup tips at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Jan. 3., and will air on ESPNU. The Sooners have won 17 of the last 26 Bedlam meetings, including seven of the past nine contests. OU owns a 136-97 all-time advantage in the series and boasts an 84-27 lead when played in Norman.
• OU is 9-4 against the Cowboys during the Lon Kruger era. Wednesday’s meeting with OSU will be the first matchup since Mike Boynton took over as the Cowboys’ head coach.
• Oklahoma has won 15 of the last 17 Bedlam battles in Norman. The Sooners’ 12-game home Bedlam winning streak was snapped last season when Oklahoma State won, 68-66, on a late 3-pointer.