Back in the Top 25, Back at Home
TUESDAY'S GAME BASICS
Back in the AP Top 25 and back at home, No. 17/17 Oklahoma (8-1) begins its final week of non-conference play when it welcomes Northwestern State (3-6) to Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT. Winners of six in a row and coming off of a huge win at No. 3 Wichita State, the Sooners are starting a season 8-1 or better for the fourth time in seven seasons under head coach Lon Kruger.
Dating back to last season, OU has won seven straight home games. The Sooners are 38-4 in Norman against non-conference opponents under Kruger.
ON THE AIR
Tuesday's matchup will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. The game will be broadcasted by Sooner Sports TV on Fox Sports Oklahoma with Chad McKee, Dan Hughes and Jessica Coody calling the action. Fans can use the Sooner Sports TV channel finder here.
Tickets start at just $10 and are available at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. The Lloyd Noble Center box office opens at 4:30 p.m.
OU Athletics is offering a special "student for a game" promotion where fans can receive a general admission ticket for the student section along with OU poms for just $10. Enter the promo code "STUDENT" at SoonerSports.com/promocode.
IN THE BONUS
As if you needed any more reasons to attend Tuesday's return to the LNC, OU Athletics has teamed up with Coca-Cola to give out a pair of Rose Bowl tickets to one lucky fan. Fans must be present to win and can enter the drawing at the ticket office table above section E2. The winner will be announced during the second half.
The BoomSquad will also have a special raffle, as one lucky OU student will receive a pair of Apple AirPod headphones. Students can register as they enter through the north student entrance.
The Sooner Jr. Kids Zone on the south side of the concourse will feature a poster making station, face painter, balloon artist and free school folders.
Fans are encouraged to #ArriveSooner to avoid delays into the gates with new enhanced screenings. For more gameday tips at Lloyd Noble Center, visit the LNC's information page.
• For the first time since reaching the 2016 Final Four, the Sooners are back in the AP Top 25. Oklahoma vaulted from unranked to No. 17 in both the AP and Coaches polls after a shocker of a win at No. 3 Wichita State on Saturday. The ranking is OU’s second-highest in a mid-season poll when it was unranked in the previous week (has gone from unranked to No. 16 on three occasions, most recently 1979). Despite never cracking the AP Top 25 during the 2016-17 season, the Sooners have still been ranked in 47 of the last 77 polls (61 percent).
• Freshman guard Trae Young continues to lead the country in scoring with 28.8 points per game. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, Young enters Tuesday’s contest with seven consecutive games of scoring at least 28 points and eight games of at least 20. If Young reaches 20 points on Tuesday, he’ll tie the longest OU streak of 20-or-more points since Buddy Hield strung together nine games between Dec. 12, 2015 and Jan. 15, 2016.
• Should Oklahoma win Tuesday’s contest, the victory will be No. 610 for head coach Lon Kruger, surpassing Sooner coaching great Billy Tubbs (609) on the all-time Division I coaching wins list. Kruger’s 609 wins are the ninth-most among active head coaches and 32nd all-time.
The Sooners jumped to No. 17 in both polls and are coming off of back-to-back wins over top-25 teams.
OKLAHOMA'S LAST TIME OUT
• In its first road game of the season, No. RV/24 Oklahoma (8-1) defeated No. 3/3 Wichita State (8-2) at INTRUST Bank Arena on Saturday. The 91-83 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.
• Oklahoma is now 9-13 all-time against non-conference foes ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25. The Sooners are 4-3 in such games since 2000.
• For the ninth straight game, the Sooners were led in scoring by freshman guard Trae Young. The Norman native picked up his fourth double-double of the year by producing 29 points, 10 assists and four rebounds. Young has totaled at least 28 points in seven consecutive games.
• According to ESPN Stats and Info, Young is the first college player with 25 points and 10 assists against an AP top-three team since Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn in 2009 against UConn. Flynn’s numbers came in the classic six-overtime game.
• Young wasn’t the only freshman putting up numbers. Rookie forward Brady Manek scored a career-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting (5-of-13 from 3-point range).
• Saturday is just the second instance since 1976 that two OU freshmen scored 20 or more points in one game. The other such game occurred last season at Texas when Kristian Doolittle and Kameron McGusty each eclipsed 20 points.
• Wichita State entered the contest with the highest rebounding margin in the country (+14.6). The Sooners brought a strong rebounding performance to equal the Shockers rebounds (each team had 43), led by junior center Jamuni McNeace with 10 boards and four blocks.
• OU won its biggest game of the year despite having its poorest shooting performance of the season. The Sooners finished the night shooting 28-of-72 (.403) from the field.
• Sophomore guard Kameron McGusty collected a season-high 13 points and shot 5-of-9 from the field (3-of-6 from 3-point range). Junior guard Christian James added 13 points and seven boards.
SERIES HISTORY VS. NORTHWESTERN STATE
• OU is 6-0 all-time against Northwestern State. The two teams have met four previous times during the Lon Kruger era with Oklahoma winning the four matchups by an average margin of 20.5 points. The Sooners won the most recent meeting, 97-61, to open the 2016-17 season on Nov. 13, 2016.
• The Sooners are 10-1 against current members of the Southland Conference under Kruger. OU’s lone Kruger-era loss to a Southland member came on Dec. 18, 2012 to Stephen F. Austin (55-56).
• In two career games against the Demons, senior forward Khadeem Lattin averages a double-double of 11.0 points and 10.0 boards.
• Oklahoma has seen strong production from a pair of freshmen already known around the Norman area. Guard Trae Young (Norman) and forward Brady Manek (Harrah) are both local products with numerous high school accolades now in their first season as Sooners. The pair is combining to average 38.9 points per game.
• Fueling Oklahoma to a road win over No. 3 Wichita State on Dec. 16 by combining for 50 points, the freshman duo swept the Big 12’s weekly awards for the week of December 11-17. Young earned Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time this season while Manek was honored as Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. The Sooners last swept the conference’s weekly awards on Feb. 16, 2009, with Blake Griffin (Player of the Week) and Willie Warren (Newcomer).
• In nine games, the Norman native has put together four double-doubles, eight 20-plus-point games, three 30-plus-point games and a 43-point performance (Nov. 26 vs. Oregon). Young is averaging 28.8 points, 8.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting .475 from the field and .375 from 3-point range. He leads the nation in scoring and leads the Big 12 in scoring average by almost 10 points (Jevon Carter of West Virginia is second with 19.4). Young’s 8.9 assists rank first in the Big 12 and third across the country.
• Manek has also found success in his first few collegiate contests, putting together averages of 10.1 points, 5.3 rebound and 1.0 blocks while shooting .468 from the field.
PLAY FAST, SCORE BUCKETS
• Oklahoma is off to a 8-1 start behind the third-highest-scoring offense in the nation. The Sooners average 93.0 points per game and have scored at least 90 points in six of their nine games - including a pair of games in triple digits. Oklahoma, who ranked 331 (of 351 teams) in assists per game last season, is 26th in the country with 17.9 assists per contest.
• The Sooners aren’t just scoring in bunches - they’re playing fast. Oklahoma is fifth in the nation and first among major conferences in KenPom.com’s adjusted tempo rankings (possesions per 40 minutes adjusted to the opponenet) with 78.1. Oklahoma’s average possession is 13.8 seconds long, the fastest among major conferences and fifth-fastest overall.
• Oklahoma is 4-0 when shooting above 50 percent and 4-0 when it hands out at least 20 assists.
• Oklahoma has scored 45 or more points in 11 of its 18 halves this season and has scored at least 42 points before halftime in all but one contest.
• OU opened the season, scoring 108 points in wins over Omaha (Nov. 12) and Ball State (Nov. 15). Its just the third time in program history that OU began a season with back-to-back games of at least 100 points. OU’s back-to-back games of triple-digit scoring was its first since December 2001. It is just the third time since 1993 that the Sooners have put together consecutive 100-point showings.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
• Oklahoma has gone 65-14 (.823) at Lloyd Noble Center over the past six season. Overall, the Sooners are 77-19 (.802) at the LNC in the Kruger era.
• The Sooners have won 445 of their last 518 encounters at Lloyd Noble Center, good for a remarkable .859 winning percentage. Included in the stretch was a school-record 51-game winning streak (ended in 1990-91). The Sooners also recorded a Big 12 Conference-record 37-game home court winning streak (ended in 2003).
• OU is 13-10 at home against AP Top 25 opponents in the Kruger era and has won 12 of the last 18 such contests.
• Oklahoma has won 130 of its last 137 non-conference games at LNC, including 64 of its last 68. The Sooners are 38-4 in Norman against non-conference opponents under Kruger.
• Overall, the Sooners own a 540-100 (.844) record in the LNC since the building opened in 1975.
UP NEXT: NORTHWESTERN
• For the fifth straight season, the Sooners will go up against a Big Ten opponent during non-conference play when they welcome Northwestern to Lloyd Noble Center on Friday, Dec. 22. The 6 p.m. CT contest closes out the Sooners’ pre-Big 12 portion of the schedule before opening conference play on Dec. 30 at TCU. Oklahoma’s matchup with Northwestern is the first meeting between the two programs and will air nationally on ESPN2.
• The Sooners are 137-127 all-time against current members of the Big Ten and 1-4 against Big Ten schools under head coach Lon Kruger. After Friday’s contest with Northwestern, the Sooners will have played 13 of the 14 members of the conference (OU has never faced Rutgers).
• Tickets start at just $10 and are available at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here.