Sooners look to improve on perfect 3-0 Big 12 record Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
||Senior Forward Romero Osby
Winner of five straight and in a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (12-3, 3-0) travels to face fellow league unbeaten Kansas State (14-2, 3-0) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT inside Bramlage Coliseum. The Sooners, who are off to their best league start in four years, are coming off an 81-63 home win over Texas Tech on Wednesday. K-State is ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and has won seven straight games (won 67-54 at TCU on Wednesday).
ON THE AIR
Saturday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck calling the action. The game will be televised by the Big 12 Network (KOCB Ch. 24 in OKC; KMYT Ch. 41 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court) with Dave Armstrong and Rich Zvosec announcing.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Oklahoma owns a 104-91 all-time record against Kansas State and has won 11 of the last 15 meetings, including both games a year ago. OU's 63-60 victory in Manhattan last season was its lone true road win of the year.
• Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger averaged 24.0 points in the team's two wins over K-State last season. In Manhattan, he scored 30 points on 11-for-17 field goal and 4-for-7 3-point shooting.
• The Sooners' five-game winning streak matches the longest under second-year head coach Lon Kruger. OU won five straight December non-conference games last season.
• OU has already won as many games away from home this year (6-2 record) as it did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). The Sooners will play at least nine more games away from Lloyd Noble Center this season (including Saturday's contest at Kansas State). They are 3-1 in true road games this year.
• The Sooners have shot at least .714 from the free throw line in nine straight games and own a stellar .817 mark during the span. OU has eclipsed the .900 mark in three of the last seven outings and owns the Big 12's top two performances of the year (.947 vs. Texas A&M and .938 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi). It also owns the two best free throw performances in Big 12 play (.905 last Saturday vs. Oklahoma State and .846 Wednesday against Texas Tech).
| Sooner to Watch
Steven Pledger | Sr. | Guard
• Averaged 24.0 points in OU's two wins over K-State last season (scored 30 on road)
• Has scored in double figures in each of the last eight games, averaging 12.9 points
• Ranks fourth in Big 12 with 2.2 3-pointers per contest and averages 11.5 points on year
• Averages 26.3 minutes per outing, the fewest of any Big 12 player to lead his team
KRUGER VS. HIS ALMA MATER
A 1975 Kansas State graduate, OU head coach Lon Kruger is 4-2 all-time against his alma mater after the Sooners swept the two-game series with the Wildcats last year. The Big Eight Conference Player of the Year his junior and senior seasons (1972-73 and '73-74), Kruger, whose No. 12 K-State jersey is retired, also coached K-State from the 1986-87 through '89-90 seasons. As a coach, he led the Wildcats to an 81-46 record and to NCAA Tournament appearances each of his four years, including the Elite Eight in 1988. As UNLV's head coach, Kruger posted a 1-1 record against KSU (won 63-59 two years ago in Kansas City; lost 95-80 in 2009-10 in Las Vegas). He also notched an 81-48 home win during the 1999-00 season as Illinois' head coach. His Texas-Pan American team lost a 75-68 contest to the Wildcats in 1984-85 in the Runnin' Rebel Classic in Las Vegas.
PREVIEWING KANSAS STATE
• Kansas State enters Saturday's game with a 14-2 overall record and a 3-0 Big 12 mark. The Wildcats, who have won their last seven contests, are 10-0 at home and have won those 10 games by an average of 20.5 points. Their two losses have come to teams currently ranked in the top 10 - 71-57 to Michigan on Nov. 23 in the NIT Season-Tip-Off in New York and 68-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 15 in Seattle. In Big 12 play, K-State beat Oklahoma State 73-67 at home and posted road wins over West Virginia (65-64) and TCU (67-54).
• In Big 12 action, Kansas State leads the league in field goal percentage (.479), 3-point field goal percentage (.400) and rebounding margin (+4.7 per game). It also ranks second in assists (16.0 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4).
• After averaging 13.7 points in pre-conference play, senior guard Rodney McGruder leads the Big 12 in league games with his 22.0 points per game. He is shooting .540 from the field in conference play and .500 from 3-point range (averages a Big 12-high 3.7 makes per game). McGruder scored a season-high 28 points vs. Oklahoma State, 17 at West Virginia and 21 at TCU. He is averaging 19.6 points over the last seven games.
• Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez averages 9.0 points per game on the year as well as a team-high 4.3 assists per game. Fellow sophomore guard Will Spradling contributes 8.3 points and 3.3 assists a contest. Spradling has made a team-high 23 3-pointers and is shooting .333 from behind the arc. Another sophomore, forward Thomas Gipson averages 7.3 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per contest.
• Kansas State is under the direction of head coach Bruce Weber, who is in his first season with the Wildcats. A 1978 UW-Milwaukee graduate, Weber is in his 15th year as a head coach and owns a 327-157 record. He coached five years at Southern Illinois and nine seasons at Illinois (guided the Illini to a 2005 national runner-up finish).
LAST YEAR VS. THE WILDCATS
Oklahoma won both meetings against Kansas State last year, 82-73 in Norman and 63-60 in Manhattan. In the first matchup on Jan. 14, OU turned in a .549 field goal performance and overcame its worst rebounding deficit in 13 seasons (44-24) to post the nine-point home win over the 18th-ranked Wildcats. The Sooners, who shot .700 from the field in the second half (14-for-20), held K-State to .391 shooting on the day and forced it into 19 turnovers. OU's 20-rebound deficit was its largest in victory in 20 years. Andrew Fitzgerald enjoyed his best shooting day as a Sooner, knocking down a career-high nine field goals on 10 attempts en route to a then-season-high 21 points. Romero Osby and Steven Pledger netted 18 points apiece, and Sam Grooms handed out nine assists. Rodney McGruder led the Wildcats with 19 points and 10 boards.
In the rematch in Manhattan on Jan. 28, the Sooners squandered a 10-point second-half lead and fell behind 51-49 with 5:45 remaining, but outscored No. 22 Kansas State 14-9 down the stretch en route to the three-point victory in Lon Kruger's return to Bramlage Coliseum. It was OU's first Big 12 road win over a ranked opponent in four years. Pledger scored a game-high 30 points on 11-for-17 field goal, 4-for-7 3-point and 4-for-4 free throw shooting. He scored eight points in the final 5:30 to help secure the win, including back-to-back 3-pointers to put OU ahead for good. McGruder scored a team-high 19 points for the Wildcats.
OU-KANSAS STATE HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 104-91 series advantage against Kansas State but is 36-55 against the Wildcats in Manhattan. OU is 12-6 against K-State since the start of the Big 12 in 1996-97 (5-4 in Manhattan). OU has won 11 of the last 15 overall meetings, but K-State has taken four of the last seven.
• As of Thursday, Oklahoma is ranked 14th out of 347 Division I teams in the CBSSports.com RPI (second best in Big 12 behind No. 2 Kansas), with a strength of schedule ranked No. 12. OU is projected by Joe Lunardi and ESPN.com as a No. 9 NCAA Tournament seed in this week's "Bracketology" report, while SI.com has the Sooners as a No. 8 seed.
• Oklahoma's seven home games are tied for the fewest of any of the 74 other teams in the six "power" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC). Every team has played at least eight home games, with the exception of Miami (Fla.), Mississippi State and West Virginia (seven each). Forty-eight of the 74 teams have played at least 10 home games.
• In Big 12 play, Oklahoma leads the league in free throw percentage (.862; next best is Oklahoma State at .773), turnover margin (+3.7 per game) and offensive rebounding percentage (.379). OU ranks second in scoring offense (75.0), scoring margin (+12.3), field goal percentage (.449) and 3-point field goal percentage (.385).
• Steven Pledger's 26.3 minutes per game are the fewest of any Big 12 player to lead his team in the category. In fact, every league squad except Texas Tech and West Virginia has at least two players who average at least 26.3 minutes per game (Baylor has five, Kansas, Oklahoma State and TCU have four, Iowa State and Texas have three each and Kansas State has two). OU has a league-high nine players who average at least 16.0 minutes per contest.
• OU has played seven games this year decided by seven points or fewer and has won five of them. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance. Each of the last five games (all wins), however, have come by at least nine points.
• Oklahoma has exhibited a balanced offensive attack through 15 games, with seven players averaging between 5.9 and 13.7 points per contest, and nobody averaging more than 26.3 minutes.
• OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its scoring from last season, but newcomers rank third, fourth, sixth and eighth this year in scoring average. The team's four newcomers have accounted for 40 percent of OU's points (420 of 1,040).
• The Sooners own a 245-166 advantage in points off turnovers on the year (16.3 to 11.1 per game). Oklahoma has done a better job of capitalizing on mistakes, averaging 1.09 points per opponent turnover to foes' 0.89 points per OU miscue.
• The Sooners' bench has been key, supplying 364 of the team's 1,040 points (35 percent). OU's reserves have been outscored just four times in 15 games. Two starters from last year (Cameron Clark and Sam Grooms) have come off the bench in each of their games, while another, Andrew Fitzgerald, has come off the bench in 14 of 15 contests.
The Sooners return home to host Texas on Monday at 8:30 p.m. The contest will be televised by ESPN. Texas has won the last six meetings.