Oklahoma and Notre Dame Clash at the Garden
TUESDAY'S GAME BASICS
Two historic programs meet for the first time when Oklahoma (6-1, 0-0 Big 12) and Notre Dame (6-1, 0-0 ACC) face off in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT at Madison Square Garden. Oklahoma and Notre Dame boast a combined 67 trips to the NCAA Tournament, while head coaches Lon Kruger and Mike Brey own more than 1,100 combined career wins.
As exciting as the matchup will be on the court, the showcase also gives a platform to the Jimmy V Foundation and its work to battle cancer as part of ESPN’s weeklong initiative to help raise funds for cancer research. Over the past 11 years, V Week has raised $22.2 million for cancer research.
ON THE AIR
Tuesday’s matchup will air on the Sooner Radio Network (107.7 FM The Franchise in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Allison Williams will call the action on ESPN while Marc Kestecher and Bob Valvano are on the mic for ESPN Radio. Additionally, College GameDay will be on site for a 30-minute pregame show beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Tickets are currently on sale on Ticketmaster. Fans can also call the Madison Square Garden Box office at 866-858-0008.
• Through seven games, the Sooners have displayed a style of play that emphasizes intensity on the defensive end and calls for different players to step up on offense depending on that game’s matchups. Although only one Sooner is averaging double figures (Christian James with 19.1 points), Oklahoma has another four players averaging between 8.9 and 9.9 points. Seven players in OU’s 10-man rotation have reached double figures in a game this season, including five players with at least three games of scoring over 10 points.
• The Sooners have played 20 previous games at Madison Square Garden, going 7-13 inside the famous arena. OU has won its last three contests at MSG, including the semifinals and championship games of the 2009 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. The Jimmy V Classic is OU’s first trip to New York City since playing in the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
• Tuesday’s Jimmy V Classic is a nationally televised showcase to help raise money for cancer research through the Jimmy V Foundation. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger has been a long ally in the fight against cancer and has spent countless hours working with various non-profits to raise funds and support research initiatives. This summer, he was named council chair of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide program partnering with the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Kruger has been a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council since 2007 and has been a longtime supporter of the American Cancer Society.
Miles Reynolds has scored a total of 34 points over his last two games.
SERIES HISTORY: NOTRE DAME
• Oklahoma and Notre Dame will face each other for the first time in men’s basketball. The Fighting Irish are one of four ACC teams the Sooners have yet to face on the hardwood along with Boston College, Miami and Wake Forest. OU is 16-16 all-time against current members of the ACC.
RECAPPING OU'S WIN OVER NORTH TEXAS
• The Sooners improved to 6-1 with a 73-57 win over North Texas on Tuesday in Lloyd Noble Center. The win broke North Texas’ nation-leading 10-game winning streak (dating back to last season).
• Senior center Jamuni McNeace scored 16 points (5-of-6 shooting) and added 10 rebounds with two blocks for the third double-double of his career.
• Graduate guard Miles Reynolds shot 4-of-5 from the field for 13 points in the second half. He totaled 17 points for the game to lead the Sooners in scoring.
• Oklahoma continued to show intensity on the defensive end, limiting UNT to 57 points and 19-of-69 shooting (.275). The Mean Grean entered the game 8-0 and averaging 80.9 points per game. UNT also had averaged a 42.6 percent 3-point shooting clip, but Oklahoma limited it to 6-of-26 (.231) from behind the arc.
• OU only outscored North Texas by two in the first half, but pulled away midway through the second frame. OU outscored the Mean Green 30-17 in the final 13 minutes and forced North Texas to miss 19 of its final 24 shots.
• Oklahoma is off to its sixth start of 6-1 (or better) during Lon Kruger’s eight seasons as head coach. A win would give OU its fifth 7-1 start under Kruger.
• In Oklahoma’s last two games, the Sooners forced Dayton and North Texas to shoot a combined 9-of-46 (.196) during the final 13 minutes of each game, including 3-of-20 (.150) from 3-point range.
• Tuesday’s matchup is only the eighth game of the season, but will already be Oklahoma’s sixth game away from home. Ten of OU’s first 13 games this season are being played outside of Norman.
• The Sooners have outscored their opponents in the paint in all seven games this year, averaging 33.7 paint points per game.
• OU features one of the oldest rosters in both the Big 12 and the country (more about that on page 4...). Oklahoma seniors and graduates have scored 70 percent of OU’s points this season.
• Graduate guard Miles Reynolds has scored 17 points in each of the past two outings, including a combined 27 points during the second half of those contests.
• A prolific free throw shooter, Reynolds is shooting his foul shots at a .889 clip (32-of-36) and leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage (minimum of 30 attempts).
• After swatting no shots in the first three games of the season, senior center Jamuni McNeace has totaled 14 blocked shots over his last four games. McNeace is ranked seventh in the Big 12 with an average of 2.1 rejections per game.
• Senior guard Christian James ranks third in the Big 12 scoring race with 19.1 points per game. He has scored at least 18 points in all but two games this season.
• Freshman guard Jamal Bieniemy has picked up 12 steals in his first seven games. His 1.7 steals per game are eighth-most in the Big 12 (third among freshman).
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger boasts a 146-92 record during his eight seasons in Norman. Kruger is four wins away from becoming just the fifth head coach to win 150 games at Oklahoma. He would join Hugh McDermott (185), Bruce Drake (200), Kelvin Sampson (279) and Billy Tubbs (333).
IN DEFENSE OF CHANGING STYLES
• For the second straight season, Oklahoma is off to a 6-1 start. Although their record matches last season’s start, the Sooners have completely shifted their style of play from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Head coach Lon Kruger has shown the flexibility to adjust his style of play to the personnel on his roster. Last season, the Sooners played a fast-tempo, high-scoring style through national rookie of the year Trae Young. As the first player to lead the country in scoring and assists, Young drove the Sooners offense to score 84.9 points per game – the fifth most of any team last season and the eighth most in program history. The Sooners’ 2017-18 tempo was the second fastest among major-conference teams with an average possession of only 14.0 seconds. Due to the speed of play and emphasis on free-flowing offense, the Sooners gave up an average of 81.7 points per game on the defensive end.
• This season, the Sooners are focusing much more on the defensive end – using their athleticism and length to force opponents deep into the shot clock and showing improvement in contesting shots. OU opponents are averaging 65.1 points per game and shooting 37.1 percent from the field (ranks second in the Big 12).
• Oklahoma’s defense has been especially disruptive late in the game. In OU’s six wins, its opponents are shooting a combined 29.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from 3-point range during the final 15 minutes of the game.
• Most recently, the Sooners held North Texas (Nov. 27) to a shooting percentage of .275 (19-of-69). It was the eighth-lowest opponent field goal percentage of the Kruger era and second lowest over the last three seasons.
• Oklahoma held Dayton to 54 points on Nov. 23 and North Texas to 57 points on Nov. 27, marking the first time OU has held its opponent under 60 points in consecutive games since the 2014-15 season.
• The Sooners have held their opponents to 60 or fewer points in three of their last four games – the first time Oklahoma has accomplished that feat since the 2007-08 season.
• OU opponents have shot under 32 percent in four of OU’s seven games this season.
UP NEXT: WICHITA STATE
• For the second time this week, Oklahoma will play in an NBA venue when it hosts Wichita State at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma. The Sooners and Shockers will meet on the Oklahoma City Thunder's home floor on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU.
• Tickets start at just $19 and are available on SoonerSports.com/Tickets.
• Oklahoma owns a 5-2 all-time record agaisnt the Shockers. The Sooners are 1-1 when facing Wichita State at home, with WSU winning the 2016 meeting (also played in Oklahoma City).
• In last season’s meeting, played at downtown Wichita’s INTRUST Bank Arena, the Sooners topped then-No. 3 Wichita State, 91-83. The victory was Oklahoma’s first road win against a top-three opponent in non-conference play in program history and the first road win over any top-three team since 1949. Brady Manek scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting (5-of-13 from 3-point range).
• OU is 5-2 against current members of the American Athletic Conference under Lon Kruger.
• Oklahoma owns a 13-6 record when playing at Chesapeake Energy Arena and is 4-1 in the Kruger era. Under Kruger, the Sooners have won two All-College Classic games at ‘The Peake’ (2012 vs. Texas A&M, 2011 vs. Houston) and won first and second round 2016 NCAA Tournament games against CSU-Bakersfield and VCU.