OU looks to win its first game against an AP top-five team since beating No. 4 Texas in 2006.
||Senior Guard Sam Grooms
A loser of two straight and in a tie for fifth place in the Big 12, Oklahoma (14-7, 5-4) plays host to No. 5/5 Kansas (19-3, 7-2) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. The Sooners, coming off an 83-64 defeat at Iowa State on Monday, are 3-1 in conference home games. Kansas has also lost two straight, most recently a 62-55 decision at TCU on Wednesday. The Jayhawks, who are tied with Kansas State for first place in the league, are 4-1 in conference road games.
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 calling the action. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN with Jon Sciambi, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe announcing.
Reserved seats are sold out, but $10 restricted admission tickets will go on sale at Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Restricted admission tickets allow access into the arena, but do not guarantee a seat. After tipoff, restricted admission ticket holders may take any open seats that remain in the upper level. Patrons with reserved tickets have first priority to the seat location on their tickets.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
Kansas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks own a 139-64 series lead and have won the last 10 meetings. OU's last win in the series came in Norman in 2005 when the No. 22 Sooners beat the No. 8 Jayhawks 71-63. The teams shared the Big 12 regular season title that year with a 12-4 record (OU was the Big 12 Tournament's No. 1 seed).
After scoring 74 points and shooting .527 from the field in a three-point road win over Baylor on Jan. 30, the Sooners are averaging 57.0 points and shooting .375 over the last two games, both losses. OU's 114 points over the last two outings represent its lowest two-game total on the season.
In Big 12 play, opponents (67) have made almost twice as many 3-pointers as the Sooners (34). That's a difference of 99 points, or 11.0 per game. OU has made more treys than its foe in a conference game one time (eight makes to Oklahoma State's six).
After shooting at least 50 percent from the field in 10 straight outings, senior forward Romero Osby has been held to under 50 percent in three of the last four contests. Since a 9-for-15 effort against Texas in which he scored a career-high 29 points, Osby is averaging 10.5 points on .356 field goal shooting during the four-game span (OU is 1-3 during the stretch). In Big 12 play, Osby ranks sixth in the league with his 15.3 scoring average. He has led OU in scoring in seven of its nine Big 12 games.
This season marks the 25th anniversary of the 1988 national championship game between OU and Kansas. After defeating the Jayhawks in two regular season meetings by eight points each, the Sooners lost 83-79 in the national title game inside Kansas City's Kemper Arena. It was the 50th NCAA Tournament, and the halftime score of the title game was 50-50.
AN OU WIN ON SATURDAY WOULD...
Mark the Sooners' first against Kansas since a 71-63 home victory on Feb. 21, 2005, and snap a 10-game series losing streak.
Be its first over an AP top-five team since beating No. 4 Texas 82-72 on Jan. 28, 2006, at Lloyd Noble Center.
Represent its 15th victory of the season, matching last year's win total (finished 15-16) and surpassing the 2009-10 (13) and 2010-11 (14) totals.
Mark its sixth in Big 12 play this season, more than any of the previous three years.
| Sooner to Watch
Andrew Fitzgerald | Sr. | Forward
Averaging 7.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game the last four outings
Tied a season high with a team-high 12 points Monday and had a team-high seven boards
Shooting 50 percent from the field (20-for-40) over the last seven games
Became the 39th Sooner to score 1,000 career points four games ago against Kansas
After starting the season with a 19-1 record and ascending to No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, Kansas has lost its last two games (85-80 at home to Oklahoma State and 62-55 at TCU). In the loss to TCU, the Jayhawks were held to a .295 field goal mark, their lowest in 14 seasons. KU is still tied for first place in the Big 12 (with Kansas State) with a 7-2 record.
In Big 12 play, Kansas leads the league in average scoring margin (+7.6), average rebounding margin (+5.5), field goal percentage defense (.372), blocked shots (5.8 bpg) and steals (8.5 spg).
Freshman guard Ben McLemore, who practiced last season with KU, ranks second in Big 12 play with his 17.3 points per game. A starter in all 22 contests, he has scored in double figures in all but two outings (had nine points in each of other two) and paces the conference with his .462 3-point field goal mark in league play (18-for-39).
Senior center Jeff Withey is averaging 13.0 points on the season on .559 field goal shooting while ranking fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and first in blocked shots (4.2 bpg). He has scored at least eight points in every game this season.
Senior guard Travis Releford, who scored a career-high 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting at Oklahoma last season, averages 12.1 points per game on the year and leads the Big 12 with his .606 field goal percentage. After scoring in double digits in 17 straight games, he was held to eight points in the loss to OSU last Saturday and to one point in the loss at TCU on Wednesday (0-for-1 shooting).
Senior point guard Elijah Johnson averages 9.2 points and a team-high 4.7 assists. He ranks second on the team with his 32 3-point makes and is shooting .327 from behind the arc.
Bill Self is in his 10th year as Kansas' head coach and owns a 288-56 record. He is in his 20th year overall.
TWO WEEKS AGO VS. THE JAYHAWKS
Oklahoma shot just .356 from the field in a 67-54 loss at No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 26 that was the Jayhawks' 33rd straight home win and 102nd in its last 103 at Allen Fieldhouse. KU entered the game as the nation's leader in field goal percentage defense (.348).
OU trailed 29-21 at halftime after shooting just .286 from the field in the first 20 minutes and got no closer after halftime.
No Sooner made more than four field goals (Buddy Hield, Amath M'Baye, Romero Osby, and Steven Pledger each made four). Pledger (4-for-8) was the only starter to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.
M'Baye and Osby each scored a team-high 12 points, but did it on a combined 8-for-27 field goal shooting (.296). M'Baye was 4-for-11 and grabbed seven rebounds, while Osby was 4-for-16 and had six boards. Osby entered the day shooting .600 from the field over the previous 10 games.
Pledger made two of OU's three 3-pointers and finished with 10 points, his 10th double figures game in the last 11 outings. He tied Tim Heskett for third place on OU's all-time 3-pointers list with 215 makes.
With his first two points of the game, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald became the 39th member of OU's 1,000-point club. He finished the game with four points and a team-high eight rebounds (his most of the season) in just 12 minutes.
After going seven straight games without getting outrebounded, the Sooners got outboarded for the second straight contest. Kansas pulled down 41 rebounds to OU's 31. It was OU's second-largest rebounding deficit of the season.
OU-KANSAS SERIES HISTORY
Kansas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks own a 139-64 series advantage and are 47-40 vs. OU in Norman. The Sooners had won three of five overall meetings in the series and four of seven prior to Kansas' current 10-game victory streak. OU is 4-18 against the Jayhawks since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.
OU TEAM UPDATE
As of Friday, Oklahoma is ranked 21st out of 347 Division I teams in the CBSSports.com RPI (second best in Big 12 behind No. 9 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 Tuesday's "Bracketology" report.
Four of the Sooners' six losses have come to teams ranked in this week's AP top-25 (No. 5 Kansas, No. 6 Gonzaga and No. 13 Kansas State [twice] own a combined 59-9 record). Two others 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 19-2 on the year and lead the nation in scoring defense).
The Sooners have played 12 games away from home and just nine in Norman. The nine 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).
OU has already won more games away from home this year (7-5 record) than it did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). Its seven wins away from home are tied with Kansas for the most by a Big 12 team. The Sooners have at least five more opportunities for wins away from Lloyd Noble Center this year (including the Big 12 Championship).
Oklahoma is 7-3 this year in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
In five of OU's last six games, the team that has won the rebounding battle has lost the game. The exception was two weeks ago when Kansas posted a 41-31 board advantage and beat the Sooners 67-54.
After shooting better than 70 percent from the free throw line in 10 of 11 games (shot .787 over the 11-game stretch), the Sooners have shot under 70 percent in each of the last four outings (shooting a combined .613). OU still ranks second in the Big 12 with its .725 season free throw shooting mark and owns the league's top two free throw performances of the year (.947 vs. Texas A&M and .938 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi). Its .905 effort versus Oklahoma State stands as the Big 12's best in conference action.
In its four Big 12 home games, OU is giving up 5.5 3-pointers per game. In its five league road games, it is surrendering an average of 9.0 makes. The Sooners have been outscored 135-54 from behind the arc in their five Big 12 road contests.
In its four Big 12 losses, OU is getting outscored by 15.7 points per game from behind the arc (33 makes for opponents to OU's 12).
In conference wins, Romero Osby, Amath M'Baye and Buddy Hield are averaging a combined 43.8 points and shooting .550 from the field. In conference losses, they are averaging 27.0 points and are shooting .355.
OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its point production from last season, but in Big 12 play this year newcomers have accounted for 41 percent of OU's points (247 of 600). Three starters from last year (Cameron Clark, Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms have come off the bench in all but two of their combined 62 games this season).
OU PLAYERS UPDATE
Senior forward Romero Osby leads OU in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg) and field goal percentage (.492) in just 26.5 minutes a contest. Projected to 40 minutes, he is averaging 20.8 points and 9.9 boards. He ranks sixth in the Big 12 (league play only) with his 15.3 points per game and 10th with his 6.8 caroms per contest. Osby has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 11 of the last 14 games and is also shooting .835 from the free throw line (66-for-79) in those 14 outings (made 36 in a row which fell one shy of school record). He has led the team (or tied for the team lead) in scoring in seven of its first nine conference outings, including a career-high 29-point effort against Texas on Jan. 21. He has started 51 of OU's 52 games the last two years since transferring from Mississippi State.
Senior guard Steven Pledger ranks second on the team by averaging 10.7 points in 26.2 minutes a game. After turning in a season-high 20-point effort at Baylor on Jan. 30 in which he scored 14 first-half points, he was held to a season-low two points on 1-for-4 shooting in last Saturday's home loss to Kansas State and to five points in Monday's loss at Iowa State. Pledger ranks fifth in the conference with his 1.9 treys per contest and 10th with his .348 3-point percentage. The league's leading returning scorer from last year (16.2 ppg), he has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 14 outings. He ranks third in school history with 218 3-point makes and is in 20th place on OU's all-time scoring chart with 1,246 points. Pledger has started each of his last 53 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 10 games (seven wins), he is averaging 12.1 points (on team-high .514 field goal shooting) and 5.5 rebounds. The junior forward, who is averaging 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds on the year (24.6 minutes per game) to rank third and second on the team, respectively, scored a season-high 20 points Jan. 30 at Baylor before netting seven last Saturday against Kansas State and eight Monday at Iowa State.
Freshman guard Buddy Hield, who ranks fourth on the team with his 8.9 points, third with his 4.6 rebounds and second with his 2.1 assists, has been even better in Big 12 play with averages of 9.6 points, 5.1 boards (ranks 20th in the league) and team-high 3.1 assists (ranks ninth). Hield has started the last 11 games (has 38 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. Hield has led the team in minutes in five of the last eight outings and is averaging 32.4 minutes over those eight games. He leads the squad with his 26.8 minutes per game on the season. After averaging 12.8 points during a four-game stretch, he has averaged 6.8 over the last four outings (scored in single digits in all four).
Junior guard/forward Cameron Clark, who started 60 of 63 games and averaged 8.9 points in 30.4 minutes per contest over his first two seasons, is averaging 6.0 points in 16.2 minutes an outing off the bench this year. After shooting .238 from the field (5-for-21) in the first four games, he is shooting .540 in 17 games since (47-for-87). He was 5-for-8 Monday at Iowa State and netted 10 points.
A starter every game the previous two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has come off the bench in 20 of 21 games this season. On the year, he averages 5.9 points (.445 field goal shooting) and 3.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes an outing. Three games ago at Kansas he became the 39th member of OU's 1,000-point club (he now ranks 35th with 1,026 points). Over the last four outings, Fitzgerald is averaging 7.0 points and 6.5 boards in an average of 15.8 minutes (17.8 points and 16.5 boards when projected to 40 minutes a contest). He tied a season high with 12 points Monday at Iowa State and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Senior point guard Sam Grooms started all 31 games last year, led the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 per game). He came off the bench in each of his first 19 games this season before making his first start Monday at Iowa State. He has racked up a team-high 48 assists (2.5 per game) against 20 turnovers for a 2.5 ratio.
The Sooners are home again Monday when they host TCU at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPNU.