OU vs. VCU in Saturday's All-College

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

 No. 4/4 Oklahoma (10-0) vs. VCU (7-3) 
 Date & Tip Time

 Saturday, Dec. 20 at 9:02 p.m. CST

 Location  Oklahoma City, Okla. | Ford Center 
 Tickets  wwww.TicketMaster.com
 TV

 ESPN2

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa
 Series History  Tied at 1-1
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com/GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

PREVIEWING SATURDAY’S GAME
Owner of its highest ranking since March 2003, No. 4/4 Oklahoma (10-0) takes on VCU (7-3) on Saturday at 9 p.m. CST in the O’Reilly All-College Classic at downtown Oklahoma City’s Ford Center.  The Sooners, who are beating their opponents by an average of 16.3 points per game, will face a Rams squad that has won four straight.  Saturday’s game will follow the 6:30 contest between Oklahoma State and Rhode Island, and will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla 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.

 VCU's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
1
 Larry Sanders
6-10
220
So.
 7.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 54.0 FG%
F
11
 Kirill Pishchalnikov
6-8
248
Jr.
 5.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 58.1 FG%
G
3
 Eric Maynor
6-3
175
Sr.
 24.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.7 apg
G
12
 Joey Rodriguez
5-10
170
So.
 11.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.2 apg
G
20
 Bradford Burgess
6-5
207
Fr.
 7.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 apg

 Oklahoma's Projected Starters
Pos.
No.
 Name
Ht.
Wt.
Year
 2008-09 Stats
F
23
 Blake Griffin
6-10
251
So.
 23.1 ppg, 15.1 rpg, 67.5 FG%
F
32
 Taylor Griffin
6-7
238
Sr.
 10.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.3 FG%
G
5
 Tony Crocker
6-6
206
Jr.
 7.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg
G
13
 Willie Warren
6-4
207
Fr.
 13.9 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.8 spg
G
20
 Austin Johnson
6-3
176
Sr.
 7.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.4 apg 

"NOTE"WORTHY
• OU’s No. 4 AP ranking is its highest since the final poll of the 2002-03 season when it was ranked No. 3 heading into the NCAA Tournament.
• The Sooners own a 51-12 All-College Classic record and have won 14 of their last 15 games in the event.
Blake Griffin leads the country in rebounding (15.1 rpg) and ranks ninth in scoring (23.1 ppg).
• Despite a modest .691 team free throw percentage, the Sooners have made 36 more foul shots than their opponents have attempted.  OU is 201-for-291 from the stripe while foes are 107-for-165.  That’s an average of 12.6 more attempts per game than its opposition.  Griffin has attempted 37 percent of the team’s free throws (109 of its 291).
• Griffin (15.1 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 10.9 free throw attempts a game, a figure that would break Stacey King’s 1988-89 record of 8.9 foul shots per outing.
• To put Griffin’s early season rebounding average (15.1 rpg) in perspective, the last player to average as many boards per contest for an entire season was Larry Smith of Alcorn State (also 15.1) back in the 1979-80 campaign.

 
 Sooner to Watch 

 Austin Johnson | Sr. | Guard
 • Ranks second in Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9)
 • Averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 assists over the last five games (shooting .563 from the field)
 • Is 7-for-12 from long distance over the last four games 
 • Sooners are 17-1 since the start of last season when he scores in double figures

   

UTAH GAME RECAP
• Oklahoma posted its 11th straight home victory with a 70-52 win over Utah last Saturday.  The Sooners shot a season-low .388 from the field but turned in a season-high .867 effort at the free throw line (26-for-30).  They held Utah to .340 field goal shooting.
• All five OU starters scored in double figures for the first time since a Dec. 8, 2004, win over Purdue.
Blake Griffin picked up two fouls in the game’s first four minutes and sat most of the first half.  He failed to make a field goal on only three attempts but still managed his eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.  The sophomore was 11-for-14 from the free throw line and added a pair of assists in a season-low 23 minutes.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson scored a game-high 14 points, his second most this season.  He was 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range while adding a game-high three steals.
• Freshman guard Willie Warren recorded 12 points for his eighth double-digit scoring game of the year.  He was 5-for-11 from the field and 2-for-5 from long distance while also handing out a pair of assists.
• Junior guard Tony Crocker’s 11 points marked his third straight double-digit scoring game.  Senior forward Taylor Griffin also netted 11 points while pulling down seven boards.
• The Sooners held Utah center Luke Nevill to 10 points and four rebounds.  He entered the game averaging 18.1 and 8.5.

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 10 contests (has recorded at least 15 boards in six outings) and now leads the Big 12 in scoring (23.1 ppg), rebounding (15.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.675).  Griffin leads the country in rebounding (2.0 boards per game more than Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, who ranks second) and ranks ninth in scoring.
• Griffin has already attempted 109 free throws on the season (an average of 10.9 a game).  He is 58-for-87 (.667) over the last eight games after going 9-for-22 (.409) over the first two contests.
• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored in double figures in eight of 10 outings, is averaging 15.0 points and 3.7 assists over the last three games while shooting .567 (17-for-30) from the field.  He has also left his mark on the defensive end of late by registering 12 steals over the last five contests.  His .471 season field goal percentage is tops among the team’s guards.
• Senior guard Austin Johnson is averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 assists over the past five contests.  He has shot .563 (18-for-32) 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).
• After scoring in double figures once in OU’s first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in each of the last three.  He netted a season-high-tying 12 points at Tulsa before finishing with 10 versus Maine (9-of-16 combined shooting) and 11 last Saturday against Utah.

OU Fast Fact 
The Sooners are averaging just 12.5 turnovers per contest to rank second in the Big 12 (Missouri averages 12.4).  Over the last four games, OU is averaging just 9.5 turnovers (8, 13, 9, 8).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES
• The Big 12’s lone unbeaten team (10-0), Oklahoma is off to its best start since the 2003-04 season when it also began 10-0.  The last time the Sooners won more games to start a season was in 1989-90 (12).
• The Sooners have held each of their last three foes to .340 or worse field goal shooting.  Tulsa (.333), Maine (.293) and Utah (.340) have shot a combined .321 over the last two weeks.
• OU has used the same starting lineup in all 10 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).
• Sophomore Blake Griffin and his brother, senior Taylor Griffin, are a combined 115-for-185 (.622) from the field this year.
• Blake Griffin has accounted for 29 percent of OU’s points, 41 percent of its rebounds and 46 percent of its defensive boards.
• OU has made at least six 3-pointers in nine of its 10 games, but is shooting just .311 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 43 career games (five times this year).  He has recorded at least two assists 27 times in his career (eight 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 Dec. 7 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 blocks already this year.
• Forty-seven percent of Taylor Griffin’s rebounds this year (30 of his 64) have come on the offensive end of the floor.
• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 394 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).

OU’S ALL-COLLEGE HISTORY
This year’s All-College Classic marks the 33rd such event for Oklahoma and the 26th straight.  The Sooners own a 51-12 (.810) all-time record in the All-College and have claimed 20 championships.  They have won 14 of their last 15 games in the event.  This marks the eighth year that the All-College features a “classic” or non-tournament format.  OU beat Gonzaga (72-68) last year, bettered Tulsa (58-48) two years ago, lost to West Virginia (92-68) in 2005-06, and beat Tulsa (70-64) in 2004-05, Princeton (58-55) in 2003-04, Michigan State (60-58) in 2002-03 and Texas Southern (97-55) in 2001-02.

FAMILIAR FOE
Saturday’s game will mark the first for OU’s Jeff Capel against the program over which he formerly presided.  Capel’s first head coaching job was at VCU, where he directed the Rams to a 79-41 (.658) record from the 2002-03 through 2005-06 seasons.  He led the 2003-04 squad to the NCAA Tournament where, as a No. 13 seed, it lost to fourth-seeded Wake Forest by a 79-78 score.  Capel’s four VCU teams posted records of 18-10 (2002-03), 23-8 (2003-04), 19-13 (2004-05) and 19-10 (2005-06).  The 2004-05 team advanced to the postseason NIT.

Capel served as a Rams assistant coach during the 2001-02 season.  Current OU assistant coach Mark Cline served as a VCU assistant during Capel’s final three years at the school.  The Sooners are scheduled to play at VCU next season.

PREVIEWING VCU
• Virginia Commonwealth, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, is off to a 7-3 start after going 24-8 last year and winning the league with a 15-3 record.  It lost in the first round of the postseason NIT last year at UAB.
• VCU is 4-0 at home, 2-2 in road games and 1-1 at neutral sites this season.  Its three losses have come at Rhode Island (92-86), at East Carolina in overtime (93-90) and versus Vanderbilt (71-66).
• A good shooting team, the Rams own a .485 mark from the field, a .411 mark from 3-point range and a .712 mark from the foul line.  Opponents are shooting .428 from the field and .354 from behind the arc.  VCU gets outrebounded by 1.6 boards a game.
• Senior point guard Eric Maynor ranks sixth nationally in scoring (24.4 ppg) and 35th in assists (5.7 apg).  He is shooting .513 from the field, .435 from long range and .782 from the charity stripe.  Maynor, who played under Jeff Capel his freshman season, leads the team in 3-point makes (27), free throw makes (61) and free throw attempts (78).  He has scored at least 30 points three times this year, including in Wednesday’s 73-69 win over Akron when he netted 30 with the help of 12-for-14 free throw shooting.
• Sophomore guard Joey Rodriguez is the only other Ram averaging double figures in points.  He contributes 11.1 points per game, as well as 3.2 assists and a team-high 2.7 steals.  The long-range shooting threat is 24-for-51 from 3-point range (.471).
• Another guard, freshman Bradford Burgess, has started all 10 games and averages 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting a team-high .476 from 3-point distance (10-for-21).
• Sophomore forward Larry Sanders supplies 7.5 points, 5.2 boards and a team-high 3.1 blocked shots a contest, and is shooting .540 from the floor.  Fellow starting big man, Kirill Pishchalnikov averages 5.4 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds.  The junior forward is shooting .581 from the field.
Anthony Grant is in his third season as VCU’s head coach and owns a 59-18 (.766) record.  A 1987 Dayton graduate, he spent 10 years as an assistant coach at Florida and two at Marshall.

OKLAHOMA-VCU SERIES HISTORY
Saturday’s game will mark the third meeting between OU and VCU, with both teams owning a victory in the series.  The Sooners won the first matchup, 141-105, on Dec. 8, 1990, in Norman.  Kermit Holmes scored 24 points to lead seven Sooners in double figures.  Four OU players netted at least 20 points (Holmes, Brent Price 22, Terry Evans 21 and Jeff Webster 20).  Chris Brower led six Rams in double figures with 18 points.  VCU won the most recent meeting, a 98-82 decision on Jan. 20, 1994, in Richmond, Va.  Webster registered 29 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners while Tyron McCoy finished with 36 points to lead the Rams.  VCU shot .554 from the field and .526 (10-for-19) from 3-point range. 

LAST YEAR IN THE ALL-COLLEGE CLASSIC
Unranked Oklahoma knocked off No. 18 Gonzaga, 72-68, in last year’s All-College Classic nightcap.  The Sooners overcame .257 first-half field goal shooting to post a .654 mark after intermission.  Despite OU’s hot second half, Gonzaga morphed a 24-24 halftime tie into a 66-63 lead with 2:41 left behind 12 straight points from Jeremy Pargo.  The guard missed his final three shots, however, including a potential game-tying 3-pointer that was blocked by Austin Johnson with six seconds remaining, as the Sooners grabbed the victory.  Longar Longar led OU with 16 points while Blake Griffin finished with 15 points and 14 boards.  Tony Crocker added 15 points and six rebounds.  Pargo led all scorers with 28 points and was 4-for-8 from long range.

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 25 assists this season and has registered at least one handout in all 10 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) and 21 rebounds (three times).  His six steals in a game are one shy of a Big 12 best this year.
• Griffin has 26 dunks on the season, good for an average of 2.6 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 each of its last three games, the lowest number of opponent buckets this season.  In those three outings, the Sooners have held Tulsa to a .333 field goal mark, Maine to a .293 figure and Utah to a .340 performance.  That’s a combined .321 effort (51-for-159) effort.

Oklahoma ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with its 10.0 steals per game and boasts four players who rank in the top 10 in the league in the category.  Blake and Taylor Griffin are tied for sixth with 1.9 steals per outing while Austin Johnson and Willie Warren are tied for 10th with 1.8 per contest.  OU has not averaged double digits in steals for a season since 1992-93.

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