Wildcats visit Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. in battle of second-place Big 12 teams.
||Junior Forward Amath M'Baye
In a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (14-5, 5-2) plays just its ninth home game of the year when its hosts No. 18/21 Kansas State (16-4, 5-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners are coming off a 74-71 road win at Baylor on Wednesday and have won seven of their last nine. Kansas State, tied with the Sooners and Bears in the league standings, have won nine of 11 and posted an 83-57 home win over Texas 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; Sirius 91; XM 91) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Jon Sciambi and Fran Fraschilla calling the action.
• Tickets are available for $10, $30 and $40 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
• OU students may purchase a ticket for $10.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Oklahoma owns a 104-92 all-time record against Kansas State and has won 11 of the last 16 meetings despite falling 69-60 in Manhattan two weeks ago. OU has won 20 of the last 26 meetings in Norman.
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger was the 1973 and '74 Big Eight Player of the Year as a Kansas State Wildcat and coached at the school for four years, compiling an 81-46 record from 1986-87 through 1989-90. Sooners assistant coach Steve Henson played for Kruger at K-State each of those four seasons and still holds school career records for assists (582), free throw percentage (.900), minutes (4,474), starts (118), consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118).
• The Sooners have played 11 games away from home and just eight in Norman. The eight home games are the fewest among the 75 teams in the six "power" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC). In fact, through Thursday, 70 of the 75 teams from those six leagues have played at least 10 home games.
• Senior forward Romero Osby has shot 50 percent or better in 11 of the last 12 games and during the 12-game stretch is averaging 15.8 points on .556 shooting. In Big 12 play, Osby ranks second in the league with his 17.0 scoring average (tied with Kansas State's Rodney McGruder) and ranks sixth with his .525 field goal mark. He has led OU in scoring in six of its seven Big 12 games.
• A win Saturday would be Oklahoma's 15th of the season, matching last year's total (finished 15-16) and surpassing the 2009-10 (13) and 2010-11 (14) win totals. A victory would also mark OU's sixth in Big 12 play this season, more than any of the previous three years.
KRUGER VS. HIS ALMA MATER
A 1975 Kansas State graduate, OU head coach Lon Kruger is 4-3 all-time against his alma mater after the Sooners swept the two-game series with the Wildcats last year and fell two weeks ago in Manhattan. 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 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.
| Sooner to Watch
Steven Pledger | Sr. | Guard
• Scored a season-high 20 points (14 in the first half) in Wednesday's win at Baylor
• Has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 outings (averaging 12.3 ppg)
• Averages 11.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per contest on the season
• Averaged 24.0 points in a pair of wins over Kansas State last year
PREVIEWING KANSAS STATE
• No. 18/21 Kansas State enters Saturday's game with a 16-4 overall record and a 5-2 Big 12 mark (tied with Oklahoma and Baylor for second place). The Wildcats, who have won nine of their last 11 contests, are 3-1 in true road games. Their conference losses have come at home to Kansas (59-55) and at Iowa State (73-67). They are coming off an 83-57 home win over Texas on Wednesday.
• In Big 12 action, Kansas State leads the league in field goal percentage (.459), assists (16.6 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and turnover margin (+3.6 per game), and ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage (.378).
• After averaging 13.7 points in pre-conference play, senior guard Rodney McGruder is tied for second in Big 12 in league games with his 17.0 scoring average. He is shooting .500 from the field in conference play and .422 from 3-point range (averages a Big 12-high 2.7 makes per game). After scoring 20 points against OU two weeks ago in Manhattan (4-for-9 3-point shooting), McGruder is averaging 11.0 points in 31.0 minutes per game over the last three outings (4-for-14 3-point shooting).
• Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez ranks second on the team with his 9.4 points per game. In Big 12 play, he leads the league with his 6.3 assists per contest (7.8 over the last four contests) and his 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (next highest is OU's Buddy Hield at 2.3). Junior guard Will Spradling contributes 8.4 points and 3.1 assists a contest on the year. Spradling has made a team-high 31 3-pointers and is shooting .360 from behind the arc. Junior guard/forward Shane Southwell averages 8.3 points a game (11.3 in conference action).
• 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 329-159 record. He also coached at Southern Illinois and Illinois.
TWO WEEKS AGO VS. THE WILDCATS
• In a battle of 3-0 Big 12 teams, Oklahoma led 23-21 with five minutes left in the first half at No. 16/18 Kansas State on Jan. 19 before Rodney McGruder hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to give the Wildcats a 30-25 advantage. K-State never trailed afterward and went on to win 69-60, improving to 15-2 on the year.
• The Sooners lost despite making three more field goals than the Wildcats (25 to 22), outshooting them (.472 to .440) and posting a 39-24 rebounding advantage. K-State outscored OU by 21 from 3-point range (10 makes to three) and by eight at the free throw line (15 makes to seven).
• Oklahoma entered the game averaging 10.7 turnovers in its first three Big 12 games, but had 11 in the first half and 16 for the game (its most in eight outings). K-State posted a 26-6 advantage in points off turnovers, OU's worst deficit of the season (its largest previous points-off-turnovers deficit was four points at Arkansas on Dec. 4).
• Forwards Romero Osby and Amath M'Baye led OU with 12 points apiece, each going 5-for-9 from the field. Osby also pulled down eight rebounds in his 23 minutes. He was just 2-for-6 at the free throw line and committed a season-high five turnovers.
• Guard Steven Pledger ran his streak of double-digit scoring games to nine with his 10-point effort. He was 3-for-6 from the field and 2-for-4 from long range. His six field goal attempts were his fewest in seven games.
• Freshman guard Buddy Hield contributed eight points, a game-high 10 rebounds (eight defensive) and three assists. His 10 boards were his second-highest career total.
• McGruder led K-State with 20 points while fellow guard Will Spradling added 15. They combined to go 7-for-15 from 3-point land.
OU-KANSAS STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 104-92 series advantage against Kansas State and is 59-25 against the Wildcats in Norman. OU is 12-7 against K-State since the start of the Big 12 in 1996-97 (6-2 in Norman). OU has won 11 of the last 16 overall meetings, but K-State has taken five of the last eight.
OU TEAM UPDATE
• As of Thursday, Oklahoma is ranked 16th 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. 8. OU was projected by Joe Lunardi and ESPN.com as a No. 10 NCAA Tournament seed in Monday's "Bracketology" report.
• Three of the Sooners' five losses have come to teams ranked in this week's AP top-25 (No. 2 Kansas, No. 7 Gonzaga and No. 18 Kansas State own a combined 54-7 record). The other two came by a combined four points. OU lost by three at Arkansas (led with 15 seconds remaining) and by one to Stephen F. Austin (the Lumberjacks are 17-2 on the year and lead the nation in scoring defense).
• OU has already won more games away from home this year (7-4 record) as it did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). The Sooners will have at least six more opportunities for wins away from Lloyd Noble Center this year.
• Oklahoma is 7-2 this year in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
• In Big 12 play, Oklahoma leads the league in free throw percentage (.748), ranks second in field goal percentage (.453) and third in scoring offense (69.4 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.399), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.319), assists (13.7 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1).
• The Sooners have shot at least .727 from the free throw line in eight of the last 11 games and are shooting a combined .780 in those 11 outings. They have outscored their last 11 opponents by a total of 53 points at the line. In conference games, OU is shooting a league-high .748 from the charity stripe.
• In its three Big 12 home games, OU is giving up 5.7 3-pointers per game. In its four league road games, it is surrendering an average of 8.5 makes.
• The Sooners are getting outscored by 9.9 points per game from 3-point range in Big 12 play (51 opponent makes to OU's 28). Thirty-eight percent of opponents' field goal attempts have come from 3-point range while only 21 percent of OU's attempts have come from behind the arc. Conversely, the Sooners have made 152 two-point field goals in conference play while opponents have made 115.
OU PLAYERS UPDATE
• Senior forward Romero Osby leads OU in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg) in just 26.0 minutes a contest. Projected to 40 minutes, he is averaging 21.9 points and 10.0 boards. He ranks second in the Big 12 (league play only) with his 17.0 points per game (Baylor's Pierre Jackson averages 17.6), sixth with his .525 field goal percentage and eighth with his 6.9 caroms per contest. Osby has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 11 of the last 12 games and is also shooting .853 from the free throw line (64-for-75) in those 12 outings (made 36 in a row which fell one shy of school record). He led the team (or tied for the team lead) in scoring each of the first six conference outings, including a career-high 29-point effort against Texas in the last home game. He has started all 50 of OU's games since transferring from Mississippi State.
• Senior guard Steven Pledger averages 11.4 points in 26.5 minutes a game. Coming off a season-high 20-point effort at Baylor in which he scored 14 first-half points, he ranks fifth in the conference with his 2.1 treys per contest and sixth with his .370 3-point percentage. The league's leading returning scorer from last year (16.2 ppg), Pledger has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 outings. He ranks third in school history with 218 3-point makes and in 20th place on OU's all-time scoring chart with 1,239 points. He has started each of his last 51 games.
• Preseason Big 12 Rookie of the Year Amath M'Baye is a two-time league rookie of the week (Nov. 26 and Dec. 31). Over the last nine games (seven wins), he is averaging 13.1 points (on team-high .565 field goal shooting) and 5.4 rebounds. The junior forward, who is averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds on the year (24.4 minutes per game) to rank third and second on the team, respectively, is coming off a season-high 20-point performance at Baylor and has scored in double figures in seven of the last nine games (averaging 15.7 points over the last three).
• Freshman guard Buddy Hield, who ranks fourth on the team with his 9.4 points, third with his 4.7 rebounds and second with his 2.2 assists, has been even better in Big 12 play with averages of 11.0 points (ranks 20th in league), 5.6 boards (ranks 15th) and team-high 3.6 assists (ranks seventh). Hield has started the last nine games (has 35 assists) after coming off the bench the first 10 (had six assists). He owns the team's highest single-game totals in rebounds (11 vs. Stephen F. Austin), assists (7 vs. Ohio) and steals (4 vs. Ohio) on the year. He has led the team in minutes in five of the last six outings and is averaging 33.7 minutes over those six games (Osby is next with his 29.3 minutes during the six-game stretch).
• Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak has contributed across the board in OU's first 19 games, averaging 5.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.5 minutes per game. He has started all 19 contests (played point guard the last 11 games). Hornbeak owns a .357 3-point field goal mark and is 5-for-11 (.455) in Big 12 play. He is 9-for-his last 18 from long range. He handed out a career-high six assists in the win at Baylor on Wednesday.
• A starter every game the previous two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has come off the bench in 18 of 19 games this season. On the year, he averages 5.6 points (.448 field goal shooting) and 2.9 rebounds in 15.5 minutes an outing. Two games ago at Kansas he became the 39th member of OU's 1,000-point club (he now ranks 37th with 1,010 points). Fitzgerald is averaging 6.0 points and 6.5 boards over the last two games.
The Sooners go back on the road to face Iowa State on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPNU.