OU Hosts Vandy in SEC/Big 12 Challenge
SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS
After an historic comeback to sweep the Bedlam series, Oklahoma (14-5, 3-4 Big 12) is back at Lloyd Noble Center for four of its next five games. The home-friendly slate opens with the SEC/Big 12 Challenge as Vanderbilt (9-9, 0-6 SEC) visits Norman on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are entering the game after intense weeknight battles, with OU pulling off a 19-point comeback at rival Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt taking No. 1-ranked Tennessee to overtime.
ON THE AIR
The Big 12 vs. SEC matchup will tip at 3 p.m. CT and 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. Doug Sherman and Sean Farnham 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 $20 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
OU students will be granted free entry with a valid student ID at the north entrance.
IN THE BONUS
• Oklahoma men's basketball is offering a variety of promotions and incentives for OU students the remainder of the Sooners' home season. OU is introducing discounted concession items, a free shuttle from on-campus housing and a full slate of giveaways and theme nights. More information can be found here.
• Fans will be treated to the halftime act of Quick Change.
• 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.
• Freshman guard Jamal Bieniemy is coming off a breakout performance after scoring 17 points without a turnover or miss (shot 6-of-6 from the field, 3-of-3 from 3-point range, 2-of-2 at the foul line). Bieniemy was inserted into the starting lineup on Jan. 19 against Texas and the Sooners have seen instant benefits from the decision. The lone Sooner freshman totaled 28 points in his two starts. The point guard did not commit a turnover in either performance and has played 95 minutes on the floor since his last turnover (Jan. 12 vs. TCU). His presence seems to have impacted the ball control of the entire offense, as OU averaged 13.5 turnovers in its first 17 games but has totaled only 12 combined miscues in the two games Bieniemy has started.
• In his last three games, senior guard Rashard Odomes has totaled 39 points (average of 13.0 per game) on 17-of-24 shooting (.708). Odomes received his first two starts of the season against Texas (Jan. 19) and Oklahoma State (Jan. 23).
• The Sooners’ offense has recently seen a scoring surge after halftime. In its last four games, Oklahoma is averaging 40.8 second-half points and is shooting 56.0 percent from the field after the break.
Jamal Bieniemy helped will the Sooners back from a 19-point deficit on Wednesday in Stillwater.
SERIES HISTORY: VANDERBILT
• The Sooners are facing Vanderbilt for the third time in program history and first time since 1994. The Commodores have won both previous meetings. The two schools most recently met in 1994 as part of the postseason NIT.
• OU is 9-9 against current SEC teams in the Kruger era, including 7-5 against schools which were SEC members at the time of competition. The Sooners defeated Florida in the opening round of Battle 4 Atlantis earlier this season.
OU IN THE SEC/BIG 12 CHALLENGE
• Oklahoma is 3-2 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge with previous wins over LSU, Missouri and Texas A&M while falling to Florida and Alabama.
• Big 12 teams are 29-21 (.580) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. In the first four years of the event, the Challenge trophy remained in the Big 12 office. The Big 12 won it the first three seasons and the leagues split the 10 games in 2017 (in case of a tie, the trophy stays with the conference that won it the previous season). The SEC won the fifth season of the Challenge.
WHAT'S WITH THE SHOES?
• As part of Suits and Sneakers Week (Jan. 21-27), the Oklahoma coaching staff will join coaches around the country in wearing sneakers (all-white Air Jordan 1 Mids) during the game to raise awareness about the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer. The iniative is organized by Coaches vs. Cancer - a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger was named council chair of Coaches vs. Cancer this past fall and has been a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council since 2007. As the council chair, Kruger is not only an advocate for the organization, but partners with a presitgous list of fellow council members that includes the likes of Jay Bilas, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith, Norm Stewart and Roy Williams.
• Kruger has been a longtime supporter of the American Cancer Society. As founder and chairman of the Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic, Kruger’s leadership has helped the event raise over $3.5 million over the last 11 years.
• In 2017, Kruger was a recipient of the American Cancer Society’s prestigious St. George National Award for his extraordinary service to the community in support of the Society’s mission to save lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Kruger was also recognized in 2012 with the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award and in 2009 with the Legacy and Leadership Visionary Award from the ACS Las Vegas region.
• Since its inception, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised over $115 million to support the American Cancer Society and save lives. Thanks to Coaches vs. Cancer supporters, the American Cancer Society is providing hope to millions of cancer patients and their families. The Society offers free rides to treatment, a live 24/7 helpline, and free lodging near hospitals for people dealing with every type of cancer.
• Oklahoma has won 21 of its last 24 games inside Lloyd Noble Center and 23 of its last 26 “home” games (includes victories in OKC and Tulsa).
• The Sooners have won 135 of their last 142 non-conference games in Norman and are 43-4 at LNC against non-conference opponents under Kruger. OU's last non-conference home loss came in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge to Florida on Jan. 28, 2017.
• 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 8-1 when limiting opponents to under 70 points.
• Oklahoma is 13-1 when it scores at least 30 points in the first half.
• The Sooners are 11-1 when outrebounding their opponents. In its 14 wins, Oklahoma is winning the rebounding margin by an average of 5.5 boards.
• OU opponents are shooting 38.8 percent from the field – the second lowest opponent field goal percentage in the conference and 15th nationally. The Sooners rank 14th in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
• Oklahoma is eighth in the nation in defensive rebounding with 30.4 defensive boards per game. OU’s 40.6 total rebounds per game rank 17th in the country and first in the Big 12.
• OU has three players ranked in the top 10 in rebounding in the Big 12: Christian James (fifth, 7.5), Brady Manek (eighth, 6.9) and Kristian Doolittle (10th, 6.5). TCU is the only other school with multiple players (two) ranked in the top 10.
• Oklahoma’s opponents are averaging 32.0 points in the first half. OU opponents scored 32 or fewer first half points on only five occasions last season.
• Oklahoma is 12-2 when outscoring its opponents in the paint. OU is averaging 33.5 paint points per game.
• 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 12 games since. His six double-doubles are the second most in the Big 12.
• James enters tonight’s game with 147 career 3-pointers. He is three shy of the 150 mark and 22 away from cracking OU’s all-time top 10 in the category. Mookie Blaylock is currently 10th in Sooner history with 169.
• The Sooners almost always have team success on nights that Brady Manek is rolling. During his career, OU is 21-6 when Manek scores in double figures, 13-1 when he scores at least 15 points and 8-0 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.
• Kristian Doolittle has scored in double digits in five of his last nine games, including a 24-point performance that featured the game-winning shot over TCU on Jan. 12. He did not reach 10 points in any games last season.
• 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.
UP NEXT: BAYLOR
• Oklahoma returns to conference play when it hosts Baylor on Monday at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU. OU owns a 45-15 record over the Bears, including a 23-5 advantage in Norman. The two teams split the series last season with the Sooners claiming a 98-96 win in Norman and the Bears won 87-64 in Waco.
• The Sooners are 8-7 against the Bears during the Lon Kruger era and have won eight of the last 13 outings.
• Baylor is coached by Scott Drew, brother of Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew.