Exhibition Season Finally Arrives

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
 OU (0-0) vs. Oklahoma Panhandle State (0-0) 
 Date & Tip Time  Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7:08 p.m. CST
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center 
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV  None
 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM-1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM-1430 in Tulsa
 Webcast  Free on SoonerSports.com
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com / GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

GAME PREVIEW
Third-year Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel will watch his team play outside competition for the first time since last year's NCAA Tournament when the Sooners host Division II Oklahoma Panhandle State in an exhibition game Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.  The contest is scheduled to tip at 7:08 p.m. CST and will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM-1520 in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  A free, live webcast of the game will be available fo viewing on OU's official athletics site, SoonerSports.com.  

TICKET INFORMATION
• OU students who present a valid school I.D. will be admitted to Wednesday's game free of charge (north entrance).
• Upper-level reserved seats are available for $10 (north and south) and $15 (east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office.  Lloyd Noble Center ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. 

NOTEWORTHY
• Oklahoma is 39-2 (.951) in exhibition games over the past 20 seasons.
• Half of Oklahoma's 14 players did not play for the Sooners last year.  Six players are in their first year at OU while Ryan Wright (a transfer from UCLA) practiced with the team last season but did not play in games.
• Out of its 31 regular season games this year, OU will play at least 19 against teams that made the 2008 postseason (13 against NCAA Tournament teams, four against NIT squads and two against CBI teams).  It could play three more NCAA Tournament teams beyond the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off (Davidson, Arizona and Purdue).
• Oklahoma has recorded 27 consecutive winning seasons, second nationally to Syracuse (38).  Big 12 programs Kansas (25) and Oklahoma State (20) also boast lengthy streaks.

 Oklahoma Panhandle State's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 Stats / Notes
F
40
 Luke Ogden
6-4
190
Sr.
 9.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.4 apg
F
42
 Marques Loftis
6-6
215
Sr.
 3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.7 apg
C
34
 Mark Bultman
6-7
185
Jr.
 2.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg
G
5
 Aaron Jackson
6-1
178
So.
 First year at OPSU
G
21
 Kevin Geofroy
6-0
165
Fr.
 First year at OPSU

 

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 Stats / Notes
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 14.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 56.8 FG%
F
30
 Taylor Griffin
6-7
238
Sr.
 6.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 25 blocks
G
5
 Tony Crocker
6-6
206
Jr.
 11.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 42.4 3FG%
G
13
 Willie Warren
6-4
207
Fr.
 Big 12 Preseason Fr. of the Year
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 8.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.9 apg 

PREVIEWING OKLAHOMA
Ranked nationally for the first time since the end of the 2005-06 season, Oklahoma is No. 12 in the preseason AP poll and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.  OU was also picked No. 1 in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll for the first time in the 13-year history of the league. 

The Sooners are coming off a 23-12 season that saw them finish 9-7 in the Big 12 (fourth place tie) and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  OU returns seven letterwinners from that squad, including four players who started at least 20 games.  The Sooners also welcome back 69 percent of their scoring, 68 percent of their rebounding, 72 percent of their assists and 74 percent of their 3-point field goals.

Leading the Oklahoma charge in 2008-09 will be preseason consensus All-American and Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Blake Griffin.  The sophomore forward averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds last year while shooting .568 from the field, all team highs.  Other returnees joining him are junior guard Tony Crocker (11.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg), senior guard Austin Johnson (8.6 ppg, 2.9 apg), senior forward Taylor Griffin (6.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg), senior guard Omar Leary (3.9 ppg), sophomore guard Cade Davis (3.7 ppg) and junior forward Beau Gerber.  Junior forward Ryan Wright is a transfer from UCLA who practiced with the Sooners last year and is eligible for game competition this season.

Headlining Oklahoma's heralded recruiting class is McDonald's High School All-American Willie Warren.  The freshman guard was the McDonald's game's leading scorer last spring (23 points in 22 minutes) and is the most highly touted high school guard signee in OU history.  He is joined by junior forward Juan Pattillo, a top-five junior college transfer, sophomore juco transfers Orlando Allen and Kyle Cannon, and freshman guard Ray WillisT.J. Franklin is a walk-on guard who teamed with Warren to deliver North Crowley High School in Fort Worth, Texas, a Class 5A state title last March.

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Blake Griffin | So. | Forward
 • AP Preseason First-Team All-American 
 • Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year
 • Averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds last year while shooting .568 from field
 • Posted 10 double-doubles as a freshman (last seven vs. NCAA Tourney teams)
 • OU's first freshman first-team all-conference pick since Wayman Tisdale in 1983

   

PREVIEWING OPSU
Oklahoma Panhandle State is located in Goodwell, Okla., and competes in NCAA Division II for men's basketball as a member of the Heartland Conference.  OPSU is coming off a 10-17 season and a 2-10 performance in league play. 

The Aggies return just five players from last year's squad.  Senior forward Luke Ogden is the team's leading returning scorer and rebounder.  Ogden started 14 of 27 games and averaged 9.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per outing while shooting .520 from the field.  Junior guard Chuck Salisbury averaged 4.9 points and a team-high 3.8 assists in 26.5 minutes a game.  Also back are senior forward Marques Loftis (3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg), junior center Mark Bultman (2.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg) and sophomore guard Aaron Ruiz (2.8 ppg).

OPSU is coached by Jerry Olson.  A 1990 Montana State grad, Olson spent seven seasons as OPSU's women's head coach and compiled an 87-67 record before taking over the men's program last year.  He is assisted by Victor Esparza and LaChawn Anderson

OU-OPSU SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma and Oklahoma Panhandle State have never met in men's basketball.

SOONERS NO. 1 ACCORDING TO BIG 12 COACHES
For the first time in the 13-year history of the Big 12 Conference, the Sooners have been picked to win the league in a vote of head coaches.  OU 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.  Baylor and Kansas tied for third place with 103 points.  The complete poll can be found on page 4 of these game notes.

GRIFFIN NAMED AP PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Sophomore Blake Griffin, became the first Sooner in 13 years to be named an AP preseason first-team All-American on Monday.  The last OU player to receive the honor was forward Ryan Minor prior to the 1995-96 season.  Griffin was joined on the five-man team by North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough (reigning national player of the year), Davidson guard Stephen Curry, Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody and UCLA guard Darren Collison.  Griffin and Curry could meet in a second-round NIT Season Tip-Off contest Nov. 18 in Norman.

UNANIMOUS PICKS
Blake Griffin and Willie Warren were unanimous selections as Big 12 Preseason Player and Freshman of the Year, respectively, the conference office announced Oct. 14.  The players were selected by the league's head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for members of their own teams.  Griffin is OU's third Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year (Hollis Price in 2002-03 and Taj Gray in 2005-06 were the others), while Warren is the second OU player to be named Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year (Drew Lavender was recognized prior to the 2003-04 season).

COMBO NO. 1
Head coach Jeff Capel has signed McDonald's All-Americans in back-to-back years in sophomore forward Blake Griffin and freshman guard Willie Warren.  This season marks the first in history that multiple McDonald's All-Americans appear on the Oklahoma roster.  Last March, Warren became the seventh OU signee to play in the McDonald's All-American Game.  Others were Wayman Tisdale (1982), Jeff Webster (1989), Ryan Humphrey (1997), Drew Lavender (2003), Scottie Reynolds (2006) and Griffin (2007).

OU Fast Fact 
The Sooners' Nov. 22 game against Gardner-Webb will mark their 500th at Lloyd Noble Center (they are 424-72 for a .855 mark).

CAPTAINS NAMED
In a September team vote, senior Taylor Griffin, junior Tony Crocker and sophomore Blake Griffin were named captains for the 2008-09 season.  This marks the first year that any of the three have served as an OU team captain.

EXHIBITING SUCCESS
The Sooners have compiled an impressive 39-2 exhibition record over the last 20 years.  Last season, OU beat Rockhurst College, 93-58, and Fayetteville State, 91-50, in Norman.

AMERICAN OPENER
Oklahoma starts the 2008-09 regular season with a home game against 2008 NCAA Tournament participant American on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. CST.  American posted a 21-12 record last year and won the Patriot League with a 10-4 mark.  The Eagles, who lost 72-57 to No. 2 seed Tennessee in last year's Big Dance, return their top four scorers and five of their top six.

NIT SEASON TIP-OFF ON THE HORIZON
OU is the No. 2 seed in the 16-team 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off and will host the four-team South Regional Nov. 17-18.  The Sooners will play No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State in first-round action Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. CST on ESPNU.  An NCAA Tournament team last year, Mississippi Valley State finished 17-16 and went 12-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. 

If OU beats the Delta Devils, it will play the winner of the Nov. 17 game between No. 5 seed Davidson and No. 12 seed James Madison on Nov. 18 on ESPN2.  Davidson, which lost to eventual national champion Kansas by two points in last year's NCAA Elite Eight, posted a 29-7 overall record in 2007-08 and went 20-0 in Southern Conference play.  The Wildcats return preseason first-team All-American Stephen Curry.  James Madison finished with a 13-17 record last season.

If the Sooners win the South Regional, they'll advance to New York City for games during the week of Thanksgiving (Nov. 26 and Nov. 28) on ESPN2.  Those contests will be played at Madison Square Garden. 

Other NIT Season Tip-Off regional hosts are No. 1 seed Purdue, No. 3 seed Arizona and No. 4 seed Boston College.

2007-08 REVISITED
After a 16-15 season in 2006-07 that saw Oklahoma's streak of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament or NIT appearances come to an end, the 2007-08 Sooners rebounded with a 23-12 campaign and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament East Regional.  OU, which finished tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference with a 9-7 record and advanced to the semifinals of the league tourney, beat Saint Joseph's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to No. 3 seed Louisville.

Following is a list of notes and accomplishments from the 2007-08 season:

• Oklahoma posted its 27th consecutive winning season, good for the longest streak among Big 12 schools (Kansas ranks second with 25, Oklahoma State ranks third with 20 and Texas is fourth with 10).
• OU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in the last 14 years and for the 21st time in the last 26 seasons.  Only Arizona (24), Duke (24), Kansas (24), North Carolina (24), Indiana (23) and Kentucky (22) have participated in more NCAA Tournaments over the last 26 years.
• The team's NCAA Tournament win over Saint Joseph's was the first in the career of head coach Jeff Capel. 
• The Sooners' 23 wins gave the program at least 20 victories for the 10th time in the last 11 campaigns.  OU has averaged 24 wins over the last 11 years. 
• After starting 3-5 in Big 12 Conference play, Oklahoma won six of its final eight league games and finished in a tie for fourth place at 9-7.  OU won the tie-breaker with Baylor (regular season sweep) and earned a first-round bye in the Big 12 Championship.  It marked the ninth bye for OU in the 12-year history of the event.
• Oklahoma set an NCAA Division I record (since the advent of the shot clock in 1986) on March 1 against Texas A&M for length of time holding an opponent scoreless (16:12).  The Aggies' final point of the first half came with 12:51 remaining and they didn't score for the first 3:21 of the second half.
• All three of the Sooners' wins against ranked teams came away from Lloyd Noble Center.  OU beat No. 18 Gonzaga (72-68 on Dec. 20 in Oklahoma City) and posted victories at No. 23 West Virginia (88-82 in double overtime on Dec. 29) and at Baylor (77-71 on Jan. 26).  Prior to this season, the last time OU won a true road game over a ranked opponent was in the 2000-01 season.

RELATED