Fourth-Ranked OU Gears Up for Rice

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

 No. 4/4 Oklahoma (11-0) vs. Rice (4-6) 
 Date & Tip Time

 Monday, Dec. 22 at 7:07 p.m. CST

 Location  Houston, Texas | Tudor Fieldhose 
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV

 Sooner Sports Network 
 FSN Oklahoma across the state
 KQCW Ch. 19 in Tulsa

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa
 Series History  OU leads 7-2
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com/GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

PREVIEWING MONDAY'S GAME
Off to its best start since the 1989-90 season, No. 4/4 Oklahoma (11-0) plays at Rice (4-6) on Monday at 7 p.m. CST inside newly renovated Tudor Fieldhouse.  The Sooners, who are playing their second road game of the season, are coming off an 81-70 win over VCU on Saturday in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.  Rice meanwhile, has already won one more game this year than it did all of last season when it was 3-27.  Monday's game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (FSN Oklahoma across the state except Tulsa; KQCW Ch. 19 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour announcing.  It will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

 Rice's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
20
 Lucas Kuipers
6-8
220
Fr.
 9.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 45.8 3FG%
C
15
 Trey  Stanton
6-10
230
So.
 5.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg
G
12
 Bryan Beasley
6-0
185
So.
 6.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 55.0 3FG%
G
21
 Rodney Foster
6-1
185
Sr.
 10.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 40.8 3FG%
G
32
 Corey Pflieger
6-3
185
Jr.
 12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 40.4 3FG%

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 22.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg, 67.2 FG%
F
32
 Taylor Griffin
6-7
238
Sr.
 9.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 50.0 FG%
G
5
 Tony Crocker
6-6
206
Jr.
 9.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 84.2 FT%
G
13
 Willie Warren
6-4
207
Fr.
 13.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 spg
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 7.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.5 apg 

"NOTE"WORTHY
• OU's No. 4 AP ranking is its highest since the final poll of the 2002-03 season (ranked No. 3 heading into the NCAA Tournament).
• Monday's game will mark just the second between OU and Rice since the 1956-57 season (the Sooners won in Norman last year).
Blake Griffin leads the country in rebounding (14.4 rpg) and ranks 13th in scoring (22.6 ppg).
• Despite a relatively modest .695 team free throw percentage, the Sooners have made 39 more foul shots than their opponents have attempted.  OU is 226-for-325 from the stripe while foes are 124-for-187.  That's an average of 12.5 more attempts per game than its opposition.  Griffin has attempted 37 percent of the team's free throws (121 of its 325).
• Griffin (14.4 rpg) is on pace to shatter the school record for rebounding average in a season.  The standard of 13.3 boards per game was set by Alvan Adams in 1974-75.  Griffin is also averaging 11.0 free throw attempts a game, a figure that would break Stacey King's 1988-89 record of 8.9 foul shots per outing.
• Out of its 31 regular season games this year, OU will play 21 against teams that made the 2008 postseason (15 against NCAA Tournament teams, four against NIT squads and two against College Basketball Invitational teams).

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Tony Crocker | Jr. | Guard
 • Has scored in double figures in each of the last four games (averaging 14.8 points in those contests)
 • Has gone 10-for-20 from 3-point distance over the last five outings.
 • Coming off a career-high 26-point game against VCU in which he was 5-fo-6 from long range 
 • Shooting .842 from the free throw line

   

SATURDAY'S VCU RECAP
• Oklahoma made a season-high 10 3-pointers and shot a season-high .625 from beyond the arc in an 81-70 win Saturday in Oklahoma City against VCU, head coach Jeff Capel's former program (Capel coached there for four years before accepting the OU job).
• The Sooners, who led by as many as 20 (80-60), handed VCU its worst loss in nearly two years (Feb. 10, 2007).
• Junior guard Tony Crocker netted a career-high 26 points thanks largely to a 5-for-6 night from long range.  Crocker was 8-for-13 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line while also pulling down five rebounds in 31 minutes of action.  He entered the contest averaging 7.9 points on .341 field goal and .273 3-point shooting.
Blake Griffin finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes.  He was 5-for-8 from the field and 8-for-12 at the line.
• Senior point guard Austin Johnson turned in a productive stat line that included nine points (3-for-6 shooting), five rebounds, a game-high six assists, two blocked shots and three steals.  It marked the fifth time this year he's had at least six assists.
• Senior forward Taylor Griffin registered eight points, a game-high eight boards, two assists and two steals.
• OU trailed 32-31 before going on an 11-1 run over the final 2:47 of the first half to take a 42-33 lead at the break.
• The Sooners held VCU point guard Eric Maynor to 14 points (on 5-for-19 shooting) and three assists.  Maynor entered the game averaging 24.4 points and 5.7 assists.  He also committed an OU-opponent-season-high eight turnovers.
• OU improved to 52-12 all-time in the All-College Classic and has now won 15 of its last 16 games in the event.

WHO'S HOT
• Sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 18 points in all but one game this season, has netted at least 20 on seven occasions and surpassed 30 points twice.  He has led OU in rebounding in nine of 11 contests (has recorded at least 15 boards in six outings) and now leads the Big 12 in scoring (21.6 ppg), rebounding (14.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.672).  Griffin leads the country in rebounding and ranks 13th in scoring.
• Griffin has already attempted 121 free throws on the season (an average of 11.0 a game).  He is 66-for-99 (.667) over the last nine games after going 9-for-22 (.409) over the first two contests.
• After scoring in double figures once in OU's first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in each of the last four.  He is averaging 14.8 points over the four outings and is shooting .500 from 3-point range (9-for-18) and .909 from the free throw line (10-for-11).  Crocker is coming off a career-high 26-point night against VCU in which he went 5-for-6 from 3-point territory.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson is averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 assists over the past six contests.  He has shot .553 (21-for-38) from the field during the span to offset his .333 mark (9-for-27) over the season's first five outings.  Johnson ranks second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9).
• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored in double figures in eight of 11 outings, is averaging 13.5 points and 3.3 assists over the last four games while shooting .541 (20-for-37) from the field.  His .468 season field goal percentage is tops among the team's guards.

OU Fast Fact 
The Big 12's lone unbeaten team (11-0), Oklahoma is off to its best start since the 1989-90 Sooners began 12-0.  Only five OU teams have started better (18-0 in 1927-28, 17-0 in 1985-86, 14-0 in 1987-88 and 12-0 in 1918-19 and 1989-90).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES 
• The Sooners have held their last four foes (Tulsa, Maine, Utah and VCU) to combined .344 field goal and .274 3-point marks.
• OU has used the same starting lineup in all 11 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin and Blake Griffin).
Blake Griffin and his brother, Taylor Griffin, are a combined 121-for-198 (.611) from the field this year.
• Blake Griffin has accounted for 28 percent of Oklahoma's points this season, 40 percent of its rebounds and 45 percent of its defensive boards.  He has also attempted 37 percent of its free throws.
• OU has made at least six 3-pointers in 10 of its 11 games, but is shooting just .333 from long range on the season to rank last among Big 12 teams.  The worst 3-point shooting season in school history (.326) was recorded in 2006-07.
• Blake Griffin has registered at least three assists in 16 of 44 career games (five times this year).  He has recorded at least two assists 27 times in his career (eight times this season).
• Registering 54 blocked shots over his sophomore and junior seasons combined (the most ever during a two-year period by a Sooner standing under 6-foot-8), Taylor Griffin has a team-high 16 blocks already this year.
• Forty-three percent of Taylor Griffin's rebounds this year (31 of his 72) have come on the offensive end of the floor.
• The Sooners are averaging just 12.5 turnovers per contest to rank second in the Big 12 (Missouri averages 12.1).  Over the last five games, they are averaging just 10.2 turnovers (8, 13, 9, 8 and 13).
• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 395 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).
• Guard Cade Davis made all 23 of his free throw attempts last year as a freshman and canned his first three attempts this year before missing against Davidson on Nov. 18.  He went 4-for-6 Dec. 4 against USC and 0-for-1 Dec. 7 at Tulsa to make him 11-for-15 on the year and 34-for-38 (.895) in his career.

PREVIEWING RICE
• Rice, a member of Conference USA, is off to a 4-6 start after going 3-27 last year and 0-16 in league play.
• The Owls play their home games at the newly renovated, 5,208-seat Tudor Fieldhouse.  They are 2-3 at home with wins over Texas State and Harvard, and losses to Portland State, Lamar and UTSA.  Their other wins came versus Cal Poly and North Florida.
• Rice, which gets outscored by 4.6 points and outrebounded by 1.1 boards per game, is shooting .439 from the field, .382 from 3-point range and .714 from the foul line.  Foes are shooting .456 from the field and .442 from long range.
• Junior guard Corey Pflieger leads the team in scoring with his 12.5 points per outing, and also averages 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists.  Pflieger, who played in only five games last year and eventually received a medical redshirt due to an ankle injury, has made a team-high 23 3-pointers and is shooting .404 from beyond the arc.  He has scored in double figures six times in 10 games.
• Senior guard Rodney Foster is averaging 10.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-high 3.9 assists per outing.  Another long-range threat, Foster is 20-for-49 from 3-point distance (.408) and is 26-for-28 from the free throw line (.929).
• Freshman forward Lucas Kuipers averages 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest while shooting .506 from the field.  Over the last five outings, he is averaging 14.4 points and 6.4 boards.
• Freshman guard Connor Frizzelle contributes 8.0 points a game.  He is shooting .301 from the field and .882 from the foul line.
Ben Braun is in his first season as Rice's head coach.  In his  32nd year overall, he owns a 556-395 (.585) record.  A 1975 Wisconsin graduate, Braun ranks 11th among active Division I coaches in career victories.

OKLAHOMA-RICE SERIES HISTORY
Monday's game will mark the 10th between Oklahoma and Rice, but just the second since Dec. 22, 1956.  OU owns a 7-2 lead (tied at 1-1 in Houston) in a series that dates back to the 1935-36 season.  The Sooners posted 36-28 and 34-26 home wins during that campaign under head coach Hugh McDermott.  They followed with a 31-28 win at Rice the next season and two more home victories in 1937-38 -- 51-41 and 50-10.  The Owls posted a 43-28 win in the All-College Tournament in 1944-45 and a 62-47 home triumph in 1955-56.  Oklahoma replied with a 64-57 win in Norman the following year.  OU won 61-49 last year in Norman.

LAST YEAR VERSUS THE OWLS
Meeting for the first time since 1956, Oklahoma handed Rice a 61-49 defeat in Norman on Jan. 5, 2008, despite shooting .431 from the field, .190 (4-for-21) from 3-point range and .565 (13-for-23) from the free throw line.  The Sooners' defense was better than their offense as it held the Owls to .291 field goal and .188 (3-for-16) 3-point shooting.  OU also forced 22 Rice turnovers.  Ahead 34-32, the Sooners used a 12-1 run to go up 46-33 with 12:39 remaining.  Blake Griffin nearly recorded a double-double for OU with 18 points and nine rebounds while Austin Johnson registered 12 points and a career-high six steals.  Keith Clark added 11 points off the bench.  Paulius Packevicius paced the Owls with 16 points and 10 boards while Rodney Foster netted 14 points (despite a 3-for-16 field goal performance).  The box score can be found on page 25 of these game notes.

MORE BLAKE
Blake Griffin's recent string of nine straight 18-point-or-more games marked the first for an OU player since guard Corey Brewer netted at least 18 in 15 consecutive outings during the 1997-98 season.
• Lost in Griffin's gaudy scoring and rebounding statistics are some pretty impressive assist numbers.  The forward ranks third on the team with 2.4 assists per game this season and has registered at least one handout in all 11 outings.  Last season, Griffin became the first Sooner standing 6-foot-10 or taller to ever dish at least three assists in a game 11 times.  He has recorded at least three assists five times already this year.
• Griffin has posted Big 12 season highs of 35 points (vs. Gardner-Webb), 14 field goals (vs. Gardner-Webb) and 21 rebounds (three times).  His six steals and 11 free throw makes in a game both rank as second most by a league player.
• Griffin has 30 dunks on the season, good for an average of 2.7 per game.
• Griffin owns the best vertical leap (no step) on the team at 37.5 inches, as well as the best max leap (no limit on steps) by reaching 27 inches above the rim.  He also owns an 84.5-inch wingspan (seven feet and one-half inch).
• Griffin had plays No. 1, 3 and 9 on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays on Dec. 10 (vs. Maine).  All three featured dunks.

DEFENSE, DEFENSE
• Oklahoma has allowed just 17 field goals in three of its last four games, the lowest number of opponent buckets this season.  In those three outings, the Sooners held Tulsa to a .333 field goal mark, Maine to a .293 figure and Utah to a .340 performance (a combined .321 effort).  On Saturday, VCU shot .407 from the field.
• Since USC went 8-for-11 from 3-point range on Dec. 4, OU's last four opponents are a combined 20-for-77 (.260) from deep.
• OU ranks third in the Big 12 in steals per game (9.6) and fourth in blocked shots (4.4).  Taylor Griffin and Austin Johnson are tied for fifth in the league with 1.9 steals per outing while Blake Griffin (1.7) and Willie Warren (1.6) rank 11th and 14th.

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