No. 20 Oklahoma Hosts K-State Wednesday
WEDNESDAY'S GAME BASICS
Jumping three spots in the latest AP Top 25 poll, No. 20/19 Oklahoma (13-3, 2-2 Big 12) remains at home when it hosts RV/RV Kansas State (12-4, 2-2 Big 12) on Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center. The Wildcats, picked to finish second in the Big 12 in the league’s preseason poll, expect to come into Norman with a healthy roster after being without Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Dean Wade for six recent games. The Sooners also aim to be at full strength as senior center Jamuni McNeace returned to the starting lineup in Saturday’s win over No. 25 TCU.
Oklahoma and K-State are two of the most experienced teams in the Big 12, as OU boasted a league-high average age of 21.1 on opening night while K-State’s was close behind at 20.4. The Wildcats returned all of their starters from the 2017-18 squad that reached the Elite Eight.
ON THE AIR
The 6 p.m. CT 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. Mark Neely and Chris Spatola will call the action on ESPN2. Fans with proper cable verification can also stream the game on the Watch ESPN app.
Tickets are available starting at just $10 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
OU student tickets (for non-student season ticket holders) will also be available for $5 at the door on the day of each game, while supplies last (doors open to public 90 minutes before tipoff). OU students with season tickets will need to claim their tickets in advance via email, similar to home football games. Once claimed, those students may simply swipe their Sooner One Cards at the north entrance to enter.
IN THE BONUS
• Fans are encouraged to #ArriveSooner to avoid delays into the gates with enhanced screenings. OU's clear bag policy will also be in efffect. For more gameday tips at Lloyd Noble Center, visit the LNC's information page.
• OU Athletics is offering a special ticket deal to federal government employees, providing $5 for the next three home weeknight games. Those redeeming will be able to purchase up to four tickets at the discounted price by showing their government ID at the ticket window on the night of the game.
• Wednesday will be the first conference game with students back on campus. OU students in attendance will receive a free BoomSquad t-shirt and OU basketball mini hoop.
• Senior guard Christian James ranks fourth in the Big 12 in both scoring (16.8 points per game) and rebounding (7.7 boards). With 983 career points, James is 17 shy of becoming the 45th Sooner to eclipse 1,000 points in an Oklahoma uniform. He would also become the eighth Sooner to be reach 1,000 points during the Lon Kruger era, joining: Buddy Hield (2,291), Jordan Woodard (1,440), Stephen Pledger (1,392), Isaiah Cousins (1,326), Cameron Clark (1,284), Ryan Spangler (1,087) and Andrew Fitzgerald (1,086).
• Junior forward Kristan Doolittle enters Wednesday’s matchup coming off of a 24-point performance against TCU that included the game-winning bucket with 2.8 seconds remaining. Doolittle has been dominant through four games of conference play, boasting Big 12 averages of 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals while shooting .537 from the field. Doolittle has scored in double figures in five of the last six games.
• The Sooners are one of only three Big 12 teams who are undefeated at home this season. OU has won 21 of its last 23 games inside Lloyd Noble Center and 23 of its last 25 “home” games (includes victories in OKC and Tulsa). The Sooners have won seven straight games at the LNC, last losing at home on Feb. 17, 2018 to Texas.
Kristian Doolittle is averaging 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals during Big 12 play.
SERIES HISTORY: KANSAS STATE
• The Sooners lead the all-time series, 108-99, and hold a 63-27 lead over the Wildcats in Norman. The Sooners have won four of their last five contests with K-State in Norman. The home team has won the last seven meetings.
• OU head coach Lon Kruger is 6-8 against his alma mater while coaching the Sooners.
• Kruger played for Kansas State from 1970-74 and was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974. He later coached the Wildcats from 1986-90, racking up an 81-46 (.638) record. Each of his K-State squads qualified for the NCAA Tournament, and the 1988 team was one of the best in the school’s history with 24 wins and a trip to the Elite Eight. Kruger’s No. 12 hangs in the rafters of Bramlage Coliseum.
• Tonight’s matchup with Kansas State, paired with Saturday’s win over TCU, marks the first two game stretch this season where OU plays back-to-back games at Lloyd Noble Center.
• Oklahoma is the only school in the country with a win over a team from every major conference (Power Five + Big East).
• The Sooners are 11-1 when outrebounding their opponents. In its 13 wins, Oklahoma is winning the rebounding margin by an average of 6.2 boards.
• OU opponents are shooting 37.7 percent from the field – the second lowest opponent field goal percentage in the conference and ninth nationally.
• Oklahoma leads the nation in defensive rebounding with 32.0 defensive boards per game. OU’s 42.7 total rebounds per game rank eighth in the country.
• The Sooners have three players ranked in the top 10 in rebounding in the Big 12: Christian James (fourth, 7.7), Brady Manek (sixth, 7.4) and Kristian Doolittle (ninth, 6.5).
• In the months of December and January, OU is holding its foes to 60-of-218 (.275) from 3-point range - the 15th lowest in the nation during that time.
• Christian James failed to record a double-double in his first 104 collegiate games, but has produced at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in six of his nine games since. His six double-doubles are the second most in the Big 12.
• James also ranks fourth in the conference for made 3-point field goals (2.3 per game). He is the only Big 12 player averaging over 2.0 made 3-pointers and 7.0 rebounds.
• Sophomore forward Brady Manek ranks sixth in the Big 12 in rebounding with 7.4 boards per game. Manek averaged only 5.2 rebounds last season, but put on 20 pounds over the offseason to improve his physical presence in the paint. He has put together four double-doubles this season (had none his freshman year).
• Manek has scored at least 13 points in five of his last six games.
• The Sooners almost always have team success on nights that Manek is rolling. During his career, OU is 20-6 when Manek scores in double figures, 12-1 when he scores at least 15 points and 8-0 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.
• Freshman guard Jamal Bieniemy has dished out 12 assists off the bench over his last three games. The only scholarship freshman on the Oklahoma roster, Bieniemy boasts an assist/turnover ratio of 3.13. He is just outside the conference and national rankings, which require at least 3.0 assists per game (Bieniemy averages 2.9). Despite only scoring 3.5 points per game, Bieniemy contributes with his composure as a ball handler/distributor and as one of the toughest defenders in the Sooner lineup.
• Graduate guard Miles Reynolds continues to make the most of his lone season with the Sooners, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for games played Dec. 17-25. Reynolds averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in Oklahoma’s two most recent wins (Creighton and at Northwestern) to earn the honor for the first time. Reynolds is Oklahoma’s third-leading scorer with season averages of 10.6 points, 2.9 rebound and 1.4 assists. He has reached double-digit scoring in six of his last nine outings.
• Graduate point guard Aaron Calixte ranks ninth in the conference in assists with 3.3 dimes per game. Calixte is averaging 8.9 points per game and has totaled 1,2567 points in his career (1,125 came at Maine).
IN DEFENSE OF CHANGING STYLES
• 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 side – using their athleticism and length to force opponents deep into the shot clock and showing improvement in contesting shots. OU opponents are averaging 66.7 points per game and shooting 37.7 percent from the field (ranks second in the Big 12, ninth in the nation).
• Oklahoma’s defense has been especially disruptive late in the game. In OU’s 13 wins, its opponents are shooting a combined 33.0 percent (25.0 percent from 3) in the final 15 minutes of the game.
• OU has held its opponent to 60 or fewer points in four games.
• The Sooners have held their opponents to 30 or fewer points in the first half on six occasions this season (did so zero times last season).
• OU opponents have shot under 32 percent in five games this season.
DIFFERENT GUY EVERY NIGHT
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger has said all season that for the Sooners to be successful, they’ll need contributions from different guys each night. The Sooners have seen just that through their first 12 games as their roster features six players averaging at least seven points.
• Eight of the nine Sooners in Kruger’s main rotation have at least three games of 10-or-more points.
• The Sooners have had at least three players reach double-digit scoring in all 13 of their wins. Oklahoma is averaging 3.5 players in double figures per game.
• Four different Sooners have led the team in scoring over OU’s last seven games.
UP NEXT: TEXAS
• The Sooners hit the road for consecutive rivalry games in hostile territory. Oklahoma faces Texas on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT inside Frank Erwin Center on Longhorn Network. Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 54-39, with UT holding a narrow lead (22-18) for games played in Austin.
• The Sooners are 7-7 against Texas under Lon Kruger. The Longhorns have won four of the past five meetings.
• After facing the Longhorns on Saturday, the Sooners then travel to Stillwater on Wednesday, Jan. 23 to face Oklahoma State. This is just the fourth time in program history that the Sooners have played on the road against Texas and OSU in consecutive games.