Men's Hoops Opens Season Friday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. American (0-0) 
 Date & Tip Time  Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:06 p.m. CST
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center 
 Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV

 Sooner Sports Network 
 Cox 7 in Oklahoma City
 Cox 3 in Tulsa
 ESPN Full Court

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM-1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM-1430 in Tulsa
 Video Webcast  SoonerSports.com
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com / GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

GAME PREVIEW
Ranked No. 12 in the preseason AP top-25 poll and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today version, Oklahoma begins its 102nd season of varsity basketball when it hosts the American Eagles Friday at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center.  The contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM-1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM-1430 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (Cox Channel 7 in OKC; Cox Channel 3 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court) with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour calling the action.  A live webcast of the game will be available for viewing on the "All-Access" portion of OU's official athletics site, SoonerSports.com.

TICKET INFORMATION
• Upper-level reserved seats are available for $10 (north and south) and $20 (east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office.  OU student tickets cost $10 (north entrance).  Lloyd Noble Center ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Friday.
• Family packs are available for Friday's game.  For $10, fans receive a game ticket, a hot dog and a soft drink (minimum of four tickets and must be purchased before gameday).

 American's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2007-08 Stats
F
33
 Brian Gilmore
6-8
220
Sr.
 8.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg
C
4
 Frane Markusovic
6-10
240
Sr.
 1.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg
G
3
 Derrick Mercer
5-9
180
Sr.
 12.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.0 apg
G
5
 Garrison Carr
5-11
170
Sr.
 18.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 45.2 3FG%
G
15
 Frank Borden
6-4
180
Sr.
 2.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg

 

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2007-08 Stats
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 14.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 56.8 FG%
F
32
 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 Frosh of the Year
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 8.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.9 apg 

SATURDAY'S EXHIBITION RECAP
Oklahoma scored early and often in its second and final exhibition game, a 94-39 home win over Division II Cameron on Saturday.  The Sooners scored the game's first nine points, jumped to a 21-2 lead and took a 51-13 advantage to halftime behind .528 field goal shooting and a 30-11 rebounding margin.  

The second half featured more of the same as OU outscored the Aggies 43-26 after the break.  Freshman guard Willie Warren netted 12 of his 15 points (on 5-for-7 field goal and 2-for-4 3-point shooting) and dished four assists after intermission.  Sophomore forward Blake Griffin registered game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds, and added five assists, two blocks and two steals in 23 minutes of action.  He was 6-for-6 from the floor.

Sophomore guard Cade Davis came off the bench to go 4-for-7 from 3-point range for the second straight game.  He finished with 14 points.  Making his OU exhibition debut was sophomore forward Kyle Cannon.  After missing the team's first exhibition game due to a team rules violation, Cannon had five points and four rebounds in 12 minutes against Cameron.

EXHIBITION SEASON LEFTOVERS
• Oklahoma's two exhibition opponents (Oklahoma Panhandle State and Cameron) are NCAA Division II members.
• The Sooners shot a combined .522 from the field, .327 (17-for-52) from 3-point distance and .675 (27-for-40) from the field in their exhibition games.  They held their foes to .313 field goal and .207 3-point (6-for-29) performances. 
• OU registered 18 combined blocked shots last week while their opponents totaled one. 
• The Sooners improved to 41-2 (.953) in exhibition play over the past 21 seasons.

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Blake Griffin | So. | Forward
 • Made all 16 of his field goal attempts and averaged 19.5 points in exhibition play. 
 • 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)

   

WHO'S HOT
• Sophomore forward Blake Griffin went 16-for-16 from the field over OU's two exhibition games and averaged 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in 25.5 minutes per outing.
• Willie Warren, a McDonald's All-American last year, scored 15 points in each of the Sooners' two exhibition contests.  He was 10-for-22 from the field (.455) and 7-for-8 from the free throw line (.875) while adding 3.0 boards, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals a game. 
• Sophomore guard Cade Davis came off the bench to go a combined 8-for-14 from 3-point range (4-for-7 in each outing for a .571 mark).  He averaged 13.0 points in 19.0 minutes a game. 

PREVIEWING AMERICAN
American University, located in Washington, D.C., is the 2008-09 Patriot League favorite after receiving 14 of 16 first-place votes in the conference's preseason poll.  It registered a 21-12 overall record last year and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where it lost to No. 2 seed Tennessee, 72-57, in the first round.  The Eagles went 10-4 in conference play to win the regular season league crown and rattled off three more wins to claim the Patriot League tournament title.   They averaged 64.8 points per game and shot .440 from the field, .408 from 3-point range and .739 from the free throw line.  Opponents averaged 62.1 points and shot .415, .350 and .737, respectively.

The Eagles welcome back their top four scorers from last season...

• Senior Garrison Carr, the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year, averaged 18.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest last year as a junior.  The 5-11 guard shot team highs of .452 from 3-point range and .892 from the free throw line, and drained 135 treys for an average of 4.1 per game.
• Senior guard Derrick Mercer ranked second on the squad with his 12.4 scoring average and added 3.2 boards and 4.0 assists per outing.  He shot .434 from 3-point range (36-for-83).
• American's third-leading scorer last season, senior forward Brian Gilmore averaged 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting .475 from the field in 22.5 minutes per contest.
• Senior Bryce Simon, a 6-6 forward, started 31 of his 32 games last year and averaged 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists.  He ranked second on the squad with his 43 3-pointers and shot .374 from deep.

Head coach Jeff Jones is starting his ninth year at American and owns a 125-113 (.525) record there.  The 1982 Virginia graduate is in his 17th year as a collegiate head coach and holds a 271-217 (.555) career mark.

OU-AMERICAN SERIES HISTORY
Friday's game will mark the first meeting between Oklahoma and American in men's basketball.

OPENING STATEMENT
The Sooners have won 21 of their last 23 season-opening games, with the only losses during the span coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94.  OU has won 28 of its last 29 home openers.

OU Fast Fact 
The Sooners have dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 61 of their last 63 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to the 1999-00 season.

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 Nov. 3.  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 next Tuesday 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 an 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).

CAPTAINS NAMED
In a September players 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 Crocker or Blake Griffin have served as an OU team captain.   Taylor Griffin served as a captain last year along with then-seniors David Godbold and Longar Longar.

NIT SEASON TIP-OFF UP NEXT
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 next Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 17 and 18).  The Sooners will play No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State in first-round action Monday 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 Tuesday 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 (Wednesday, Nov. 26, and Friday, 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.

RELATED