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Men's Basketball No. 1 in Big 12 Poll

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

Oct. 7, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. - For the first time in the 13-year history of the Big 12 Conference, the University of Oklahoma men's basketball team has been picked to win the league in a vote of head coaches.

The Sooners received three first-place votes and a total of 109 points in the conference's annual preseason poll to edge second-place Texas.  The Longhorns captured four first-place votes and 107 total points. 

Teams received 12 points for a first-place votes, 11 points for a second-place vote, etc.  Coaches were not allowed to vote on the poll placement of their own teams. 

Prior to this year, Oklahoma's highest standing in the Big 12 preseason poll was second on four occasions (1997-98, 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2005-06).

Trailing OU and Texas in this year's poll are Baylor (two first-place votes) and Kansas (three) with 103 points each, Texas A&M (79 points), Oklahoma State (69), Missouri (51), Kansas State (50), Nebraska (49), Texas Tech (39), Iowa State (20) and Colorado (13).

"It's going to be a very tight Big 12 race this season," said third-year OU head coach Jeff Capel, owner of a 39-27 record with the Sooners.  "The coaches poll is a perfect example of the depth of our conference.  We are looking forward to an exciting league race."

Oklahoma is coming off a 23-12 season in which it tied for fourth place in the Big 12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 6 seed.  It was OU's 26th postseason appearance in the last 27 years.  The Sooners return four starters from that team, including sophomore forward and preseason first-team All-American Blake Griffin.

Last year, Griffin averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds to become the first OU freshman in 25 seasons (Wayman Tisdale in 1983) to earn first-team all-conference honors.  He is joined by fellow returning starters Tony Crocker (11.4 ppg), Austin Johnson (8.6 ppg) and Taylor Griffin (6.5 ppg).  All told, the Sooners return 69 percent of their scoring from last year, 68 percent of their rebounding and 72 percent of their assists.

Oklahoma also welcomes seven newcomers to the team, including McDonald's All-America guard Willie Warren.

Said Blake Griffin, "It's nice to be recognized in October, but we're much more interested in where we're standing five months from now.  It will mean a lot more if we're on top of the Big 12 when the season ends.  We have a lot of talent, but we also have a lot of work to do."

Oklahoma opens the regular season with a Nov. 14 home game against 2008 NCAA Tournament participant American.  That contest will be preceded by a pair of home exhibition games on Nov. 5 versus Panhandle State and Nov. 8 against Cameron.  All told, the Sooners will play 19 home games this year.

For 2008-09 ticket information, fans may call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 456-4668 or (405) 325-2424, or may click here.

Team (first-place votes)
1. Oklahoma (3) - 109 points
2. Texas (4) - 107 points
3. Baylor (2) - 103 points
3. Kansas (3) - 103 points
5. Texas A&M - 79 points
6. Oklahoma State - 69 points
7. Missouri - 51 points
8. Kansas State - 50 points
9. Nebraska - 49 points
10. Texas Tech - 39 points
11. Iowa State - 20 points
12. Colorado - 13 points

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