OU Back in Action Saturday vs. Utah

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

 No. 5/5 Oklahoma (9-0) vs. Utah (5-3) 
 Date & Tip Time

 Saturday, Dec. 13 at 3:10 p.m. CST

 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center 
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV

 ESPN2

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City
 KMOD FM 97.5 in Tulsa
 Series History  Tied at 1-1
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com/GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

PREVIEWING SATURDAY’S GAME
Looking to tie the program’s best start since the 2003-04 season, No. 5/5 Oklahoma (9-0) hosts Utah (5-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CST at Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners are 6-0 at home this year and have won 67 of their last 69 home non-conference games.  Utah sports a 1-1 road record on the season with a 13-point win at Missouri State and a four-point loss at Idaho State.  Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Terry Gannon and Stephen Bardo announcing, and will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KMOD FM 97.5 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

TICKET INFORMATION
Upper-level reserved seats are available for $20 online at SooonerSports.com and at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668).  Lloyd Noble Center ticket windows will open at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

 Utah's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
45
 Morgan Grim
6-8
220
So.
 0.7 ppg, 0.7 rpg
C
50
 Luke Nevill
7-2
265
Sr.
 18.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 64.7 FG%
G
2
 Jace Tavita
6-4
190
Fr.
 0.3 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
G
11
 Lawrence Borha
6-3
205
Sr.
 10.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 85.2 FT%
G
15
 Carlon Brown
6-5
205
So.
 9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.9 apg

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 24.4 ppg, 15.6 rpg, 69.2 FG%
F
32
 Taylor Griffin
6-7
238
Sr.
 10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 55.4 FG%
G
5
 Tony Crocker
6-6
206
Jr.
 7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G
13
 Willie Warren
6-4
207
Fr.
 14.1 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.0 spg
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 7.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.8 apg 

"NOTE"WORTHY
• Blake Griffin leads the country in rebounding (15.6 rpg) and field goals (81).  He also ranks fifth in scoring (24.4 ppg).
• The Sooners have won 67 of their last 69 home non-conference games dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
• Despite a modest .670 team free throw percentage, the Sooners have made 27 more foul shots than their opponents have attempted.  OU is 175-for-261 from the stripe while foes are 94-for-148.  That’s an average of 12.6 more attempts per game than its opposition.  Griffin has attempted 36 percent of the team’s free throws (95 of its 261).
• Griffin (15.6 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 10.6 free throw attempts a game, a figure that would break Stacey King’s 1988-89 record of 8.9 foul shots per outing.
• OU’s 34-member 1,000-point club could have two new inductees by season’s end in junior Tony Crocker and Griffin.  Crocker needs 270 points to reach 1,000 while Griffin needs 296.  Griffin would become just the fourth player in school history to reach the plateau before the end of his sophomore season (Wayman Tisdale, Alvan Adams and Jeff Webster are the others).

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Tony Crocker | Jr. | Guard
 • Has scored in double figures in each of the last two games after being held to single digits in six of first seven
 • Scored 12 points at Tulsa last Sunday and netted 10 more against Maine on Thursday on a combined 9-for-16 shooting
 • Averaging 7.6 points per game after averaging 11.3 last year (shot a team-high .424 from 3-point distance)

   

WEDNESDAY’S MAINE RECAP
• Oklahoma posted its 10th straight home victory with a 78-52 triumph over Maine on Wednesday.  The Sooners held the Black Bears to .293 field goal shooting and turned 20 Maine turnovers into 28 points.
• OU led 38-15 at halftime.  Maine’s 15 points were the fewest by an OU opponent in a half this season.
• No Oklahoma starter played more than 26 minutes, as the reserves played 104 of the team’s 200 minutes.  All five starters played their fewest or second fewest minutes of the year.
• Blake Griffin posted his seventh double-double of the season with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds.  The sophomore was 11-for-13 from the field (seven dunks) and added three assists, three blocks and two steals without committing a turnover.
• Freshman guard Willie Warren recorded 19 points in 20 minutes of court time for his seventh double-digit scoring game of the year.  He was 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free throw line while adding two assists and two steals.
• Fellow freshman guard Ray Willis came off the bench to register 13 points (one shy of his career high) and a career-high five rebounds in 20 minutes of play.  He was 2-for-5 from 3-point range and went 3-for-5 from the free throw line.
• Junior guard Tony Crocker’s 10 points marked his second straight double-digit scoring game.  He was 4-for-7 from the field.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson handed out seven assists in 18 minutes with only one turnover.  He made his only field goal attempt (a 3-pointer) and also had two steals.
• Reserves Willis (20), Omar Leary (19), Kyle Cannon (13) and Orlando Allen (11) all saw season highs in minutes played.  Ryan Wright played 12 minutes, one shy of his season high.
• The 26-point margin marked the worst defeat of the year for Maine, which fell to 5-5.

WHO’S HOT
• Sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 18 points in all nine games this season, has netted at least 20 on seven occasions and surpassed 30 points twice.  He has led OU in rebounding in all but one contest (has recorded at least 15 boards in six outings) and now leads the Big 12 in scoring (24.4 ppg), rebounding (15.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (.692).  Griffin ranks fifth nationally in scoring and first in rebounding (2.2 boards per game more than Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, who ranks second).
• Griffin has already attempted 95 free throws on the season (an average of 10.6 a game).  He is 47-for-73 (.644) over the last seven games after going 9-for-22 (.409) over the first two contests.
• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored at least 14 points in six of the last eight games, ranks second on the team and 17th in the Big 12 in scoring with his 14.1 season average.  He has also left his mark on the defensive end of late by registering 12 steals over the last four contests.  His .473 season field goal percentage is tops among the team’s guards.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson is averaging 8.5 points and 5.0 assists over the past four contests.  He has shot .500 (13-for-26) from the field during the span to offset his .333 mark (9-for-27) over the season’s first five outings.  Johnson ranks third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.1).
• After scoring in double figures once in OU’s first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in each of the last two.  He netted a season-high-tying 12 points at Tulsa before finishing with 10 versus Maine (9-of-16 combined shooting).

OU Fast Fact 
To put Blake Griffin’s early season rebounding average (15.6 rpg) in perspective, the last player to average as many boards per contest for an entire season was Monti Davis of Tennessee State back in the 1978-79 campaign.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES
• The Big 12’s lone unbeaten team, Oklahoma (9-0) is off to its best start since the 2003-04 season when it began 10-0.
• OU has used the same starting lineup in all nine games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).
• The program’s No. 5 AP ranking marks its highest since Nov. 29, 2005 (also ranked No. 5).  Since the 1989-90 campaign, Oklahoma has been ranked higher in only three seasons (2001-02, 2002-03 and 2005-06).
• The Sooners’ 80.3 points per game marks their highest average through the first nine games of a season since 1996-97 (80.6 ppg).  They have reached the 80-point mark five times and have scored fewer than 73 once.
• Sophomore Blake Griffin and his brother, senior Taylor Griffin, are a combined 112-for-173 (.647) from the field this year.
• Blake Griffin  has accounted for 30 percent of OU’s points, 42 percent of its rebounds and 47 percent of its defensive boards.
• OU has made at least six 3-pointers in eight of its nine games, but is shooting just .305 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.
• The Sooners outrebounded their first six foes by an average of 9.0 boards per contest, but have been outboarded by an average of 3.0 over the last three games.
• Blake Griffin has registered at least three assists in 16 of 42 career games (five times this year).  He has at least two assists in 26 career contests (seven times this season).
• 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 Sunday at Tulsa to make him 11-for-15 on the year and 34-for-38 (.895) in his career.
• 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 15 rejections already this year.
• Fifty-one percent of Taylor Griffin’s rebounds this year (29 of his 57) have come on the offensive end of the floor.

PREVIEWING UTAH
• Utah, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is off to a 5-3 start after going 18-15 last year and finishing in sixth place in league play with a 7-9 record.  The Utes are 1-1 in road games this season.
• Utah’s three losses have come by a combined eight points (one versus Southwest Baptist, four at Idaho State and three versus Cal).
• Among the Utes’ wins are victories over Mississippi (83-72 in Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Oregon (95-81 at home).
• A good shooting team, Utah owns a .504 mark from the field, a .372 mark from 3-point range and a .756 mark from the foul line.  Opponents are shooting .406 from both the field and from behind the arc.  The Utes outrebound their foes by 6.4 a game.
• Senior center Luke Nevill, who is 7-2 and weighs 265 pounds, leads Utah in scoring (18.1 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg), blocked shots (2.1 bpg) and field goal percentage (.647).  A second-team All-Mountain West pick a year ago, Nevill already ranks 17th in school history with 1,472 career points.  He has scored in double figures and shoot better than .500 from the field in all eight games this year.  The Perth, Australia, has notched four double-doubles. 
• The team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, senior forward Shaun Green is averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 boards per contest, as well as 2.3 assists.  He has a made a team-high 19 3-pointers and is shooting .396 from long range.  Green has come off the bench in all eight contests and scored a season-high 21 points in the win over Oregon.
• Senior guard Tyler Kepkay has also come off the bench in each game.  He averages 10.5 points and 3.0 rebounds, and shoots .414 from 3-point range (12-for-29) and .842 from the free throw line (16-for-19).  Kepkay netted 23 points against Oregon.
• Another senior, guard Lawrence Borha averages 10.4 points and 3.3 rebounds a game while shooting .364 from 3-point range (12-for-33) and .852 from the foul line (23-for-27).  He has started all eight games and scored 19 points in the win over Mississippi.
• Sophomore guard Carlon Brown is averaging 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.9 assists per contest.  He is shooting better from the field (.646) than he is from the free throw line (.571).
• Jim Boylen is in his second season as Utah’s head coach and owns a 23-18 (.561) record.  A 1987 Maine graduate, Boylen twice served as a Michigan State assistant coach (1989-92 and 2005-07).  In between, he was a 13-year NBA assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks.

OKLAHOMA-UTAH SERIES HISTORY
Wednesday’s game will mark the third meeting between OU and Utah, with both teams owning a victory in the series.  The Sooners won the first matchup, 69-68, on Dec. 14, 1979, in the Golden Gate Classic in San Francisco, Calif.  Aaron Curry paced Oklahoma with 18 points while Utah was led by Karl Bankowski and Tom Chambers (20 points each).  The Utes won the most recent meeting, a 67-58 second-round NCAA Tournament game on March 19, 2006, in Tucson, Ariz.  Taj Gray registered 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Sooners while Justin Hawkins finished with 20 points and 14 boards to lead Utah.  The Utes shot .595 from the field while OU shot .318. 

MORE BLAKE
• Blake Griffin is the first Sooner to score at least 18 points in nine straight games since guard Corey Brewer did it in 15 consecutive outings in 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 23 assists this season and has registered at least one handout in all nine games.  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), 11 free throws made (vs. Davidson), 21 rebounds (three times) and six steals (vs. Mississippi Valley State).
• Griffin has 26 dunks on the season, good for an average of 2.9 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 ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with its 10.4 steals per game and boasts four players who rank in the top 13 in the league in the category.  Blake Griffin ranks sixth with 2.1 steals per outing, Taylor Griffin and Willie Warren are tied for seventh (2.0 per game) and Austin Johnson ranks 13th (1.7 per contest).  OU has not averaged double digits in steals for a season since the 1993-94 campaign.  The Sooners also rank fourth in the Big 12 with 4.9 blocked shots per game.  Taylor Griffin averages 1.7 rejections to rank third in the conference while Blake Griffin averages 1.2 to rank ninth.

SCORING SURGE
The Sooners have scored with frequency in each of their first nine games.  In fact, they have surpassed the 80-point mark in five contests and have netted at least 73 in three of the other four.  OU is averaging 80.3 points per game, its most through a season’s first nine outings since the 1996-97 campaign (80.6 ppg).  Last year, it averaged 67.9 points per game on the season.  The Sooners have shot better than .500 from the field in five contests and own a .479 season mark.

AWARDS CENTRAL
Blake Griffin couldn’t be off to a better start in terms of turning his Big 12 Preseason-Player-of-the-Year honor into the league’s postseason player-of-the-year award.  The sophomore forward was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 1 for the third time in three weeks to start the season.  Griffin, who is only the second player in conference history to earn the weekly honor three straight times (Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett did it during the 2003-04 campaign), averaged 25.0 points, 18.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in wins over UAB and Purdue to help OU claim the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off title.  Similarly, freshman guard Willie Warren was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Dec. 1 for the second straight time after averaging 14.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.  Warren was the unanimous choice as Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year.

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