Sooners Close Regular Season Saturday
SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS
After suffering a five-game losing streak and falling to 3-9 in Big 12 play, the Sooners have regained new life and confidence by winning four of their last five games – capped by a dominant performance against No. 13 Kansas to mathematically eliminate the Jayhawks’ conference championship hopes. Oklahoma (19-11, 7-10 Big 12) has another chance to play the role of spoiler on Saturday when it closes the regular season at No. 18 Kansas State (23-7, 13-4 Big 12) – who would clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title with a win. More important than spoiling the Wildcats’ title, a victory would snap a six-game losing streak inside Bramlage Coliseum and give the Sooners another statement victory heading into Selection Sunday.
ON THE AIR
The Big 12 finale will tip at 5 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. Rich Hollenberg and Robbie Hummel will call the action on ESPN2. Fans with proper cable verification can also stream the game on the Watch ESPN app.
• Oklahoma enters its regular season finale coming off of two dominant wins against perenial Big 12 powers in West Virginia and Kansas. The Sooners shot a combined 53.8 percent in the pair of victories and saw four different players reach 20 points (Jamal Bieniemy and Aaron Calixte vs. West Virginia, Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek vs. Kansas). Doolittle and Manek combined to average 37.0 points and 15.5 rebounds in the two wins.
• Doolittle is leading the Sooners with averages of 13.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists during conference games. He is the only Big 12 player averaging at least 13.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in league competition. A candidate for the Big 12's Most Improved Player Award, Doolittle averaged only 2.9 points and 4.3 rebounds last season and 7.2 points and 5.8 boards during this season's non-conference play. He's reached 15 points in five straight games (18.0 points per game in that stretch), including a dominant 24-point, 11-rebound performance on Tuesday against Kansas.
• Manek has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 12 games, including a season-best 21 points on Tuesday against Kansas. With at least two games remaining this season, Manek is 16 points shy of hitting 700 career points (684). Only four Sooners have recorded 700 total points in their freshman and sophomore seasons during the Big 12 era: Blake Griffin (1,278), Trae Young (876), Willie Warren (868) and Buddy Hield (756). Should he reach 700 career points, he would be just the 10th Sooners to reach that total before the end of their sophomore season.
Brady Manek notched a season-high 21 points on Tuesday to help the Sooners top Kansas.
SERIES HISTORY: KANSAS STATE
• The Sooners lead the all-time series, 108-100, but are 36-61 against the Wildcats in Manhattan. Kansas State has won six straight meetings inside Bramlage Coliseum with the last OU win in Manhattan coming on Jan. 28, 2012.
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 6-9 against his alma mater while coaching the Sooners.
• Trips to Manhattan are always special for Kruger, who played for Kansas State from 1970-74 and was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974. Kruger’s No. 12 hangs in the rafters of Bramlage Coliseum.
LOOKING BACK AT TUESDAY'S WIN
• The Sooners picked up a statement victory over No. 13 Kansas in their 2019 home finale. The win was OU's first double-digit victory over the Jayhawks since 1990. OU has now won four of its last seven home games against Kansas.
• Oklahoma has won its final home game of the year in 14 of the last 16 seasons and is 9-0 in such games since 2011.
• The Sooners were led by junior forward Kristian Doolittle with 24 points (7-of-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds. The performance was Doolittle’s third 20-point double-double of the season (fourth career).
• Sophomore forward Brady Manek added a season-high 21 points.
• Freshman point guard Jamal Bieniemy dished out a career-high-tying eight assists - the same number as KU's total team assists in the game.
• The Sooners shot 28-of-57 (.491) from the field, including 16-of-30 (.533) in the opening half.
DOOLITTLE DOOING IT ALL
• Junior forward Kristian Doolittle continues to show progress in his game as the season goes along. After averaging 7.2 points and 5.8 boards in the first 12 games of the season, Doolittle has averaged 13.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals during conference games while shooting .478 from the field. During Big 12 play, Doolittle ranks in OU's top-three in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, field goal perecentage and free throw percentage.
• The last Sooner to average over 13 points and eight rebounds during conference play was Blake Griffin in 2008-09 (22.1 points, 14.3 rebounds).
• Doolittle has reached double-digit scoring in his last eight games (averaging 16.7 points per game in that span), highlighted by 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting against TCU on Feb. 16 and a 24-point, 11-rebound showing against Kansas on March 5.
• During his sophomore season, Doolittle averaged just 2.9 points and 4.3 rebounds. He is a prime candidate for the league's new "Most Improved Player" award, given to the Big 12 player who has shown the most improvement from one season to the next.
KNOW YOUR BIENIEMY
• Freshman guard Jamal Bieniemy is expected to make his 14th appearance in the OU starting lineup on Saturday. In his 13 previous starts, the rookie point guard has totaled 54 assists and only 19 turnovers in 411 minutes. OU's only scholarship freshman, Bieniemy boasts a season assist/turnover ratio of 3.0, which ranks second in the Big 12 and third among Division I freshmen. In his past two games, he recorded a career-best 22-point performance against West Virginia followed by a career-high-tying eight assists against Kansas.
• The lone Sooner rookie is climbing in the OU freshmen record book. He ranks fifth in program history in steals by a freshman (42) and ninth in assists by a freshman (94). If Bieniemy can incresase his totals to 100 assists and 50 steals, he would be just the fourth Sooner to produce such numbers in a freshman season.
• Oklahoma is the only school in the country with a win over a team from every major conference (Power Five + Big East).
• OU sits at No. 38 in the NCAA's new NET Rankings. Oklahoma is the only team in the country that has not played a "Quadrant 4" game. OU's average opponent NET Ranking of 63 is the second best in the country, and the evaluation tool ranks OU's schedule as the 19th toughest in the country. OU is 15-2 in "Quadrant 2 and 3" games and 4-9 in "Quadrant 1" games. Oklahoma's 11 Quadrant 1 + 2 wins are the 20th most in the nation.
• Sometimes the key to victory can be as simple as making shots. Oklahoma is 19-0 when it holds a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 0-10 when the Sooners have a worse shooting percentage (0-1 when the percentages are equal). Oklahoma is shooting .475 (.373 from 3-point range) in its 19 wins and .395 (.306 from deep) in its 11 losses. The Sooners are 13-2 when they shoot above 45 percent.
• The Sooners are 12-3 when limiting opponents to under 70 points and 4-1 when opponents score less than 60.
• Oklahoma is 18-4 when it scores at least 30 points in the first half.
• The Sooners are 13-1 when outrebounding their opponents. In its 19 wins, Oklahoma is winning the rebounding margin by an average of 3.5 boards.
• OU opponents are shooting 40.2 percent from the field – the second lowest opponent field goal percentage in the conference and 23rd nationally. The Sooners rank 21st in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
• Oklahoma is 20th in the nation and first in the conference in defensive rebounding with 28.5 defensive boards per game. OU’s 37.9 total rebounds per game rank third in the Big 12.
• OU has three players ranked in the top 10 in rebounding in the Big 12: Kristian Doolittle (sixth, 7.0), Christian James (eighth, 6.5) and Brady Manek (10th, 6.2). TCU is the only other school with multiple players (two) ranked in the top 10.
• Oklahoma is 17-4 when outscoring its opponents in the paint. OU is averaging 33.8 paint points per game.
• Of the 10 players in the Big 12 averaging at least 10 points and six rebounds, three play for the Sooners. Oklahoma is the only team in the conference with multiple players averaging 10 and six as its roster features Christian James (14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds), Brady Manek (12.0, 6.2) and Kristian Doolittle (10.9, 7.0).
• Christian James ranks sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (14.8) and eighth in rebounding (6.5). He is the only Big 12 guard averaging at least 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds.
• Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team with multiple players possessing at least five double-doubles. James leads the Sooners with six games of at least 10 points and 10 rebounds while Manek has produced five. Neither Manek or James owned a double-double in their career prior to this season. Additioally, Kristian Doolittle has secured four double-doubles.
• The Sooners almost always have team success on nights that Manek is rolling. During his career, OU is 26-10 when Manek scores in double figures, 15-3 when he scores at least 15 points and 8-2 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.
• A program-record six members of the Oklahoma men's basketball team were named to the 2019 Academic All-Big 12 First Team. The Sooners' academic accomplishment marks just the second time in league history that a school has had six men's basketball players named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team (Nebraska in 2004). Earning recognition for the Sooners are seniors Patrick Geha, Christian James, Jamuni McNeace and Rashard Odomes along with junior Matt Freeman and sophomore Brady Manek. Freeman and McNeace have earned Academic All-Big 12 honors for three consecutive seasons.
UP NEXT: BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
• The Sooners are locked into the No. 7 seed of the Big 12 Championship and will open play on Wednesday at 8 pm CT on ESPNU. OU will face the loser of Saturday’s regular-season finale between Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
• Oklahoma is 22-19 all-time in tournament games at the Big 12 Championship. Its winning percentage in the tournament (.537) is the fourth highest in the league.