OU Looking for 13th Win at Arkansas

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

 No. 4/4 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. Arkansas (9-1) 
 Date & Tip Time

 Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 7:07 p.m. CST

 Location  Fayetteville, Ark. | Bud Walton Arena 
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV

 Sooner Sports Network 
 KAUT Ch. 43/Cox 16 in Oklahoma City
 KQCW Ch. 19/Cox 12 in Tulsa

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KRXO FM 107.7 in Oklahoma City
 KMOD FM 97.5 in Tulsa
 Series History  Arkansas leads 12-10
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com/GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

PREVIEWING TUESDAY'S GAME
Looking for its 13th win to start the season, No. 4/4 Oklahoma (12-0) plays at Arkansas (9-1) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CST inside 19,200-seat Bud Walton Arena.  The Sooners, who are playing their third road game of the season, are coming off a 70-58 win at Rice on Dec. 20.  Arkansas has won seven straight games and owns an 8-0 home record following Saturday’s 95-56 victory over Northwestern State.  Tuesday’s game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KAUT Channel 43/Cox 16 in Oklahoma City; KQCW Channel 19/Cox 12 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour announcing.  It will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KRXO FM 107.7 in OKC; KMOD FM 97.5 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

 Arkansas' Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
00
 Michael Washington
6-9
239
Jr.
 15.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 54.5 FG%
F
31
 Michael Sanchez
6-8
236
Fr.
 7.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 77.8 FT%
G
4
 Courtney Fortson
5-11
180
Fr.
 15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.8 apg
G
14
 Stefan Welsh
6-3
185
Jr.
 12.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
G
15
 Rotnei Clarke
6-0
184
Fr.
 12.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 41.5 3FG%

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 23.0 ppg, 14.1 rpg, 68.3 FG%
F
32
 Taylor Griffin
6-7
238
Sr.
 9.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 51.4 FG%
G
5
 Tony Crocker
6-6
206
Jr.
 8.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 78.3 FT%
G
13
 Willie Warren
6-4
207
Fr.
 14.9 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 spg
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 7.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.3 apg 

"NOTE"WORTHY
• At 12-0, Oklahoma is off to its fourth-best start in school history.  Only the 1927-28 (18-0), 1985-86 (17-0) and 1987-88 (14-0) squads started a season with more victories.
• Oklahoma’s 12-game winning streak is tied for the sixth longest within a season in school history.  The record is 18 (1927-28).
• 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).
• Despite a modest .677 team free throw percentage, the Sooners have made 36 more foul shots than their opponents have attempted.  OU is 243-for-359 from the stripe while foes are 140-for-207.  That’s an average of 12.7 more attempts per game than the opposition.  OU sophomore Blake Griffin has attempted 38 percent of the team’s free throws (138 of its 359).
• Griffin leads the country in rebounding (14.1 rpg), ranks fourth in field goal percentage (.683) and 12th in scoring (23.0 ppg).  He has also registered at least one assist in every game and averages 2.4.
• Arkansas holds a 12-10 series lead against Oklahoma, but the Sooners have won the last five meetings dating back to 1998-99.
• OU has made at least 11 treys in each of its last three games against Arkansas and is shooting a combined .479 (35-for-73).
• Oklahoma freshman guard Willie Warren (averaging 14.9 ppg) and Arkansas freshman guard Rotnei Clarke (12.6 ppg) were AAU teammates for the Team Texas program.

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Willie Warren | Fr. | Guard
 • The reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Week (scored a career-high 31 points in win at Rice)
 • Has scored in double figures in nine of 12 games and has scored at least 20 in three
 • Averaging 17.0 points and shooting .574 from the field over the last five outings 
 • Ranks second on team with 2.6 assists per game

   

DEC. 22 RICE RECAP
• Oklahoma overcame a season-high-tying 17 turnovers and a season-low .500 free throw performance (17-for-34) to post a 70-58 road win over Rice last Monday.  It was OU’s second road win of the season and first on an opponent’s campus.
• With the score tied at 44, the Sooners outscored the Owls 26-14 over the final 7:51.  OU scored on 14 of its final 15 possessions (not including the game’s final possession when it ran out the clock).
• Oklahoma shot .500 from the field (24-for-48), giving it six games this year of .500-or-better shooting.  OU held the Owls to a .310 mark from the field and a .261 (6-for-23) performance from 3-point range.
• Freshman Willie Warren scored a career-high 31 points on 11-for-17 field goal shooting.  The guard made a career-high four treys on nine attempts and added a team-high-tying three assists.  He scored 14 points in the game’s final 7:31 and went on to earn Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie-of-the-Week honors. 
Blake Griffin finished with 27 points (his third highest total of the season), 11 rebounds, three assists and a career-high four blocks.  He was 9-for-11 from the field and 9-for-17 from the free throw line (the 17 attempts were one shy of his career high).
• Senior point guard Austin Johnson pulled down a career-high-tying eight rebounds and also registered two blocked shots to give him 12 rejections on the year.  Fellow senior Taylor Griffin grabbed a season-high-tying nine boards.
• Warren and Griffin combined for 58 of OU’s 70 points (83 percent) and six of its nine assists.  The Sooners’ bench scored just two points (Ryan Wright).

WHO’S HOT
• A strong candidate for national-player-of-the-year honors, sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 18 points in 11 of 12 games this season, has netted at least 20 on eight occasions and surpassed 30 points twice.  The 6-10, 251-pounder has registered nine double-doubles (one shy of his total last season) and has led OU in rebounding 10 times.  Griffin now leads the Big 12 in scoring (23.0 ppg), rebounding (14.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.683).  For perspective, Big 12 players who rank second in the respective categories are Texas’ A.J. Abrams (19.8 ppg) and Kansas’ Cole Aldrich (9.9 rpg and .591).
• Griffin also leads the country with 138 free throw attempts on the season (an average of 11.5 a game).  He is 75-for-116 (.647) over the last 10 games after going 9-for-22 (.409) over the first two contests.
• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored in double figures in nine of 12 outings, is averaging 17.0 points and 3.2 assists over the last five games while shooting .574 (31-for-54) from the field and .435 (10-for-23) from 3-point territory.  His .492 season field goal percentage is tops among the team’s guards and fourth among Big 12 backcourt players.
• After scoring in double figures once in OU’s first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in four of the last five.  He is averaging 12.2 points over the five outings and is shooting .391 from 3-point range (9-for-23) and .800 from the free throw line (12-for-15).  Crocker scored a career-high 26 points against VCU two games ago with the help of 5-for-6 3-point shooting.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson is averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 assists over the past seven contests.  He has shot .512 (22-for-43) from the field during the span to offset his .333 mark (9-for-27) over the season’s first five outings.  Johnson, who is also shooting .455 from long range (10-for-22) over the last seven outings, ranks third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7).

OU Fast Fact 
The Sooners have held their last five foes (Tulsa, Maine, Utah, VCU and Rice) to combined .337 field goal and .271 3-point marks.  The defensive effort has catapulted OU to the top of the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.379).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES 
• On the heels of a five-game stretch when it won four times by fewer than five points, Oklahoma has now won each of its last five games by double digits (18.4 average scoring margin).
• OU has used the same starting lineup in all 12 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).
• Oklahoma has made at least six 3-pointers in 10 of its 12 games, but is shooting just .326 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 are averaging 15.0 turnovers over the last two games after averaging 9.5 over the previous four outings.  OU ranks fifth in the Big 12 with its 12.9 turnovers per game on the year.
• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 396 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).
• Sophomore Blake Griffin and his brother, senior Taylor Griffin, are a combined 132-for-211 (.626) from the field this year.
• Blake Griffin has accounted for 29 percent of OU’s points, 39 percent of its rebounds and 44 percent of its defensive boards.
• Blake Griffin has registered at least three assists in 17 of 45 career games (six times this year).  He has recorded at least two assists 28 times in his career (nine 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-two percent of Taylor Griffin’s rebounds this year (34 of his 81) have come on the offensive end of the floor.
Cade Davis made all 23 of his free throw attempts last year as a freshman and canned his first three attempts this year before finally missing against Davidson on Nov. 18.  He is now 34-for-38 (.895) in his career.
• OU will play 21 of its 31 regular season games against teams that made the 2008 postseason (15 against NCAA Tournament teams, four against NIT squads and two against College Basketball Invitational teams).  As of Monday, the Sooners are ranked No. 3 nationally by CollegeRPI.com.

PREVIEWING ARKANSAS
• Arkansas, a member of the Southeastern Conference’s West Division, is off to a 9-1 start and has won seven straight.  Its only loss came at Missouri State, 62-57, on Nov. 22.  It boasts a +14.6 average scoring margin and a +10.9 rebounding margin.
• The Razorbacks are 8-0 at home and 1-1 on the road.  Their road win came at South Alabama, 79-77, on Nov. 26.
• Arkansas is shooting .467 from the field, .385 from 3-point distance and .639 from the foul line.  Its opponents are shooting .415 from the floor and .335 from long range.
Courtney Fortson leads four Razorbacks who average double figures in points.  One of the country’s most productive freshmen, the 5-11 point guard averages 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting .500 from the field and .452 from long distance (14-for-31).  He registered a triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists) Dec. 10 against North Carolina Central.
• Arkansas’ chief inside threat, junior forward Michael Washington averages 15.1 points, a team-high 10.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.  Washington leads the squad with his .545 field goal mark and has attempted a team-high 71 free throws (shooting .592).  He has scored at least 20 points four times (high of 30) and grabbed at least 10 boards on six occasions (high of 14).
• Freshman guard Rotnei Clarke is averaging 12.6 points per contest with the help of .415 3-point shooting and 17-for-17 free throw shooting.  From Verdigris, Okla., Clarke has drained a team-high 27 treys (2.7 per game).
• Junior guard Stefan Welsh contributes 12.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a team-high 1.1 steals per game.
John Pelphrey is in his second season as Arkansas’ head coach and owns a 32-13 (.711) record.  In his seventh year overall, the 1992 Kentucky graduate is 112-80 (.583).  He coached five seasons at South Alabama prior to taking the Arkansas job.

OKLAHOMA-ARKANSAS SERIES HISTORY
Tuesday’s game will mark the 23rd between Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the 10th meeting in Fayetteville.  Despite OU’s current five-game winning streak over the Razorbacks, Arkansas leads the all-time series by a 12-10 count (6-3 in Fayetteville).  OU swept a four-game home-and-home series between the 1998-99 and 2001-02 seasons, and posted an 83-72 home win last year.  Below are the results of the last five meetings.

1998-99: Oklahoma, 87-57 (Norman)
1999-00: Oklahoma, 66-52 (Fayetteville)
2000-01: Oklahoma, 88-79 in OT (Norman)
2001-02: Oklahoma, 69-54 (Fayetteville)
2007-08: Oklahoma, 83-72 (Norman)

LAST YEAR VERSUS THE RAZORBACKS
• The Sooners scored 25 points more than Arkansas was allowing entering the game in an 83-72 home win Dec. 15, 2007.
• Oklahoma shot .500 from the field, .440 from 3-point range (11-for-25) and .800 from the free throw line (16-for-20) while Arkansas shot .414, .217 (5-for-23) and .529 (9-for-17), respectively.
• OU was outrebounded 42-35 and overcame 24 Arkansas offensive boards.  The Razorbacks scored 27 second-chance points.
• The Sooners, who committed only eight turnovers, made the most of Arkansas’ 10 miscues by converting them into 20 points.
• Oklahoma used a 7-0 run to increase a 68-65 lead to a 75-65 advantage with 2:20 remaining.
Longar Longar and Austin Johnson each scored a game-high 17 points for OU.  Longar was 7-for-9 from the field, pulled down eight rebounds and blocked four shots (all of them between the 8:18 and 3:03 marks of the second half).
Omar Leary came off the bench to go 4-for-4 from 3-point range and net 12 points.
Blake Griffin was held to 11 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.  He finished with four fouls.
• Arkansas was led by Michael Washington’s 16 points and 12 rebounds.  Darian Townes added 13 points.

MORE BLAKE
Blake Griffin scorerd at least 18 points in each of the season’s first nine games, marking OU’s longest such streak 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 12 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 six times already this year.
• Griffin (14.1 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 a nation-leading 11.5 free throw attempts a game, a figure that would break Stacey King’s 1988-89 school record of 8.9 foul shots per outing.
• Griffin has three games of at least 20 rebounds this season.  No other player in the country has more than one.
• Griffin has 32 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).

UNDERRATED AUSTIN
A Sooner who tends to get lost among OU’s higher-profile players is senior point guard Austin Johnson.  The 6-3, 176-pounder ranks just fifth on the team with his 7.6 points per outing but ranks among the Big 12’s leaders in several other categories.  Johnson ranks third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), seventh in assists (4.3), sixth in steals (1.8) and 11th in blocked shots (1.0).  He is also shooting .800 from the free throw line (16-for-20).

DEFENSE, DEFENSE
• Oklahoma’s defensive performance has improved of late, as evidenced by the fact that the Sooners’ last five opponents are averaging just 55.2 points (the first seven averaged 68.9).  Only one foe in the last five games topped 58 points (VCU scored 70).
• OU has held its last five foes to a combined .337 field goal mark.  Tulsa shot .333, Maine shot .293, Utah shot .340, VCU shot .407 and Rice shot .310.
• Since USC went 8-for-11 from 3-point range on Dec. 4, OU’s last five opponents are a combined 26-for-96 (.271) from long distance.
• OU ranks second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.379), third in steals per game (9.4) and fourth in blocked shots (4.5).  Austin Johnson ranks sixth in the league with 1.8 steals per outing while Taylor Griffin (1.8), Blake Griffin (1.7) and Willie Warren (1.6) rank eighth, 12th and 14th.

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