Sooners post 23 wins, return to NCAA Tournament where Capel gets first win as a coach.
May 13, 2008
NORMAN, Okla. -- After a 16-15 season in 2006-07 that saw Oklahoma's streak of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament or NIT appearances come to an end, the 2007-08 Sooners rebounded with a 23-12 campaign and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament East Regional. OU, which finished tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference with a 9-7 record and advanced to the semifinals of the league tourney, beat Saint Joseph's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to No. 3 seed Louisville.
Following is a list of notes and accomplishments from the 2007-08 season:
Oklahoma posted its 27th consecutive winning season, good for the longest streak among Big 12 schools (Kansas ranks second with 25, Oklahoma State ranks third with 20 and Texas is fourth with 10).
The team's NCAA Tournament win over Saint Joseph's was the first in the career of head coach Jeff Capel.
The Sooners' 23 wins gave the program at least 20 victories for the 10th time in the last 11 campaigns. OU has averaged 24 wins over the last 11 years.
After starting 3-5 in Big 12 Conference play, Oklahoma won six of its final eight league games and finished in a tie for fourth place at 9-7. OU won the tie-breaker with Baylor (regular season sweep) and earned a first-round bye in the Big 12 Championship. It marked the ninth bye for OU in the 12-year history of the event.
Oklahoma set an NCAA Division I record (since the advent of the shot clock in 1986) on March 1 against Texas A&M for length of time holding an opponent scoreless (16:12). The Aggies' final point of the first half came with 12:51 remaining and they didn't score for the first 3:21 of the second half.
All three of the Sooners' wins against ranked teams came away from Lloyd Noble Center. OU beat No. 18 Gonzaga (72-68 on Dec. 20 in Oklahoma City) and posted victories at No. 23 West Virginia (88-82 in double overtime on Dec. 29) and at Baylor (77-71 on Jan. 26). Prior to this season, the last time OU won a true road game over a ranked opponent was in the 2000-01 season.
ANOTHER NCAA TOURNAMENT
Oklahoma advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in the last 14 years and for the 21st time in the last 26 seasons. Only Arizona (24), Duke (24), Kansas (24), North Carolina (24), Indiana (23) and Kentucky (22) have participated in more NCAA Tournaments over the last 26 years.
GRIFFIN NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-BIG 12
Freshman forward Blake Griffin was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection by the league's head coaches and by the Associated Press. Joining Griffin on the coaches' squad were Baylor's Curtis Jerrells, Kansas' Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush, Kansas State's Michael Beasley and Texas' D.J. Augustin. The AP team consisted of Griffin, Augustin, Beasley, Jerrells and Nebraska's Aleks Maric. Griffin became OU's first freshman to earn first-team all-conference acclaim since Wayman Tisdale was crowned Big Eight Player of the Year in 1983.
On the season, Griffin averaged 14.7 points (ranked ninth in Big 12), 9.1 rebounds (ranked fourth) and 1.8 assists while shooting .568 from the field (ranked third).
In his 13 full Big 12 games (he missed two due to injury and only played five minutes at Kansas on Jan. 14), Griffin averaged 16.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Griffin recorded 10 double-doubles on the year, his last seven coming against NCAA Tournament teams (he averaged 20.3 points and 14.7 boards in those seven games).
Griffin produced OU's top four scoring performances on the season. He netted 29 versus Baylor (Feb. 19), 27 against Kansas State (Jan. 12), 26 versus Mount St. Mary's (Jan. 7) and 25 at Colorado (Feb. 9). He also held 10 of OU's top 11 rebounding marks.
MORE ON BLAKE GRIFFIN
Griffin was also a first-team all-district pick by the USBWA and the NABC, and earned freshman All-America honors from CollegeInsider.com, Rivals.com (second team) and CollegeHoops.net (second team).
Griffin's 14.7 scoring average ranks fifth best in school history among freshmen and was the highest by an OU true frosh since the 1983-84 season (Tim McCalister averaged 16.1 points).
His rebounding average of 9.1 was the best by a Sooner freshman since 1982-83 (Wayman Tisdale averaged 10.3 boards).
Griffin was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Week and earned the league's Rookie of the Week award once.
A testament to his overall ability, Griffin finished with 61 assists and 33 steals on the year to rank fourth and third on the team, respectively. He registered at least three assists 11 times, marking the first time in school history a player standing at least 6-10 has accomplished the feat.
Griffin displayed a remarkable training room work ethic following two injuries and returned to action more quickly than expected both times. He sprained the MCL in his left knee Jan. 14 against Kansas and missed one game after expected to be out a month. He sustained a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee March 1 against Texas A&M and returned to play a week later (he was expected to miss at least two weeks).
GODBOLD, LONGAR CONCLUDE FOUR-YEAR CAREERS
Following are brief career capsules on seniors David Godbold and Longar Longar:
From Oklahoma City, Godbold started 67 of his 123 career games and averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 boards and 1.2 assists in 24.2 minutes per outing.
The 6-5 guard finished his career with 136 3-point makes and 400 attempts, ranking him 10th and seventh, respectively, on OU's all-time lists.
Godbold flourished in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 13.4 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting .609 from 3-point range (14-for-23) over five career games. He led OU in scoring in both NCAA Tournament games this year, netting a career-high 25 points against Saint Joseph's (5-for-8 from 3-point range) and 15 against Louisville (4-for-7 on treys).
Godbold made at least three 3-pointers on 20 different occasions during his four years as a Sooner. He made a career-high six treys at Texas A&M this year when he finished with 22 points.
Born in Sudan, Longar also lived in Egypt prior to his arrival in the United States at age 14. A product of Rochester, Minn., the 6-11 center played in 112 career games at Oklahoma and started 45.
Longar posted career averages of 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots while shooting .538 from the field. His 103 blocked shots rank him eighth on OU's career list.
He was the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder this season (averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 boards in 25.8 minutes).
Longar played the second half of the Big 12 season this year with a broken fibula. He missed the Feb. 6 and Feb. 9 games (both losses) to Texas and Colorado with the injury.
Longar averaged 2.9 points as a freshman (7.9 minutes per game), 2.1 as a sophomore (7.2 mpg), 10.4 as a junior (26.2 mpg) and 11.6 as a senior (25.7 mpg). He scored his career high of 27 points as a freshman against Florida A&M in his lone start that year (he filled in for an injured Kevin Bookout). Longar shot an amazing .806 from the field that season (29-for-36).
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW
After earning a first-round bye, No. 4 seed Oklahoma went 1-1 in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. This year's tournament was played at the new Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
In the quarterfinals, OU never trailed in a 54-49 win over No. 12 seed Colorado. The Sooners, who scored the game's first 10 points, won despite shooting just .328 from the field. The 54 points were their fewest in victory on the year.
OU registered a 46-37 rebounding advantage and for the only time of the season saw four players pull down at least seven boards.
Tony Crocker led the Sooners with 12 points and was followed by Longar Longar (11) and Taylor Griffin (10).
In the semifinals, OU played No. 1 seed Texas even through the game's first 22 minutes. With the scored tied at 36, though, the Longhorns outscored the Sooners 41-13 the rest of the way in a 77-49 win.
Blake Griffin led OU with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Crocker added 11 points and Cade Davis nine. Austin Johnson failed to score but registered a career-high 10 assists.
NCAA TOURNAMENT REVIEW
After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2007, OU returned as a No. 6 seed this season. The Sooners beat No. 11 seed Saint Joseph's 72-64 in the first round at BJCC Arena in Birmingham, Ala., before losing to No. 3 seed Louisville, 78-48.
Against Saint Joseph's, OU used a .571 field goal percentage (the fourth best in the program's NCAA Tournament history) to give Jeff Capel his first NCAA Tournament win as a head coach.
A 14-2 run to end the first half and gave OU a 34-22 lead at intermission. It increased its advantage to as many as 19 points after the break.
Senior David Godbold scored a career-high 25 points with the help of 5-for-8 3-point and 6-for-6 free throw shooting. He made three treys in the first 2:41 of the second half and scored OU's first 11 points after halftime.
Three other Sooners scored in double figures. Longar Longar finished with 14 points while Blake Griffin added 12 and Austin Johnson 10. Taylor Griffin did not score but pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.
In the second round against Louisville, three Godbold 3-pointers gave OU a 9-7 lead four minutes into the contest but the Cardinals dominated thereafter. Louisville led 44-22 at halftime and outscored the Sooners 34-26 after the break.
The Cardinals shot .593 from the field and .529 (9-for-17) from 3-point range on the day while Oklahoma turned in respective marks of .319 and .278 (5-for-18).
Godbold paced the Sooners with 15 points while Taylor Griffin added 11 and Blake Griffin eight.
OU's two most exciting finishes of the season occurred in back-to-back February games:
On Feb. 16 in Lubbock, David Godbold drained a 28-footer with 1.4 seconds remaining to give the Sooners a 66-64 victory over Texas Tech. It was the Red Raiders' first of only two losses at United Spirt Arena on the year.
Three nights later, Baylor scored the first seven points of overtime in Norman. Still trailing by three after two Baylor free throws, Tony Crocker converted a 4-point play with 7.3 seconds remaining. OU then had to endure two Curtis Jerrells free throw misses with 1.0 second left before celebrating a 92-91 triumph. Crocker scored OU's final seven points in the game's last 21 seconds to give the Sooners their 28th straight win over the Bears.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN W's AND L's
The following notes compare Oklahoma's stats in its 23 wins and 12 losses this year:
In its 23 wins, OU outrebounded its opponents by 5.9 a game. In its 12 losses, it got outboarded by 3.5.
OU shot .481 from the field and .399 from 3-point range in its wins. In losses, it shot .367 and .261, respectively.
Tony Crocker averaged 13.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting .521 in the Sooners' wins. In losses, those numbers fell to 7.7 points, 3.0 boards, 1.3 assists and .303, respectively. Crocker also shot .532 from 3-point range in OU's victories (50-for-94), but just .246 in defeats (14-for-57).
In the team's wins, Austin Johnson averaged 10.6 points while shooting .436 from the field and .373 from 3-point distance (38-for-102). In defeats, Johnson averaged 4.8 points while shooting .292 from the floor and .256 from long range (11-for-43).
Juniors Taylor Griffin and Austin Johnson were two of the 20 members of the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Team. Griffin, a pre-health and exercise science major from Oklahoma City, and Johnson, a sociology-criminology major from Amarillo, Texas, were both second-team selections. Griffin and Johnson were 2007 Academic All-Big 12 honorees, as well.
A look at some of OU's top individual performances in 2007-08:
Freshman Blake Griffin wasted no time in showcasing his ability as he produced 18 points and 13 rebounds in the season opener against San Francisco, a 71-55 OU victory.
Longar Longar posted his lone double-double of the year in the consolation game of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic against Gardner-Webb in New York's Madison Square Garden. The senior finished with 16 points and 11 boards.
Sophomore Tony Crocker exploded for 20 first-half points at TCU on Dec. 2 on 6-for-7 3-point shooting. He finished with a then-career-high 24 points.
OU's 88-82 double-overtime win at No. 23 West Virginia on Dec. 29 yielded several outstanding individual performances. Longar scored a team-high 22 points, all after halftime. Griffin logged 18 points and a then-career-high 16 rebounds before fouling out. David Godbold played all 50 minutes and finished with 18 points and seven boards. Austin Johnson contributed 13 points and a then-career-high nine assists.
In an 84-82 home loss to Kansas State on Jan. 12, Griffin battled Michael Beasley and finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. He was 10-of-14 from the field.
Starting in place of his injured younger brother, Taylor Griffin registered 16 points and 12 rebounds in a 63-61 win over Texas Tech on Jan. 19.
Blake Griffin made a surprise appearance Jan. 26 at No. 25 Baylor just 12 days after spraining the MCL in his left knee at Kansas. Griffin stunned the Bears with 17 points and 15 rebounds off the bench and was named Big 12 Player of the Week.
Taylor Griffin's career-high 20 points and game-high six boards led OU to a 64-61 home win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 28.
Godbold's then-career-high 22 points at No. 23 Texas A&M Feb. 2 weren't enough for the Sooners in a 60-52 loss. He made a career-high six 3-pointers on 10 attempts.
Johnson's 20 points at Texas Tech on Feb. 16 marked a career-high. He made a career-high six 3-pointers on 11 attempts and assisted on Godbold's game-winning 28-footer with 1.4 seconds left. OU won 66-64.
Blake Griffin tallied a career-high 29 points and hauled in 15 boards in the team's 92-91 overtime win against Baylor on Feb. 19. But it was Crocker's seven points in the final 21 seconds of the game - including a rare 4-point play - that gave OU the victory. Crocker finished with 20 points. Johnson added 19 points and five assists.
Crocker struck again at Oklahoma State on March 5 with a career-high 25 points in a 68-56 triumph. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc as OU played without injured Blake Griffin.
Godbold carried the Sooners to a 72-64 win over Saint Joseph's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with his career-high 25 points. He was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Only one player in school history taller than 6-8 averaged more assists than freshman Blake Griffin's 1.8 this season (Stacey King averaged 1.9 assists during his senior season of 1988-89).
The Sooners were 22-2 when scoring at least 60 points and were 15-1 when scoring at least 70.
The Sooners were 20-4 when their opponent committed more turnovers, 17-4 when outrebounding their opponent, 17-2 when ahead at the half, 11-1 when shooting at least .500 from the field and 13-4 when winning the opening tip.
David Godbold scored in double figures in four of his five career NCAA Tournament games (12 against Niagara in the 2005 first round, 15 versus UW-Milwaukee in the 2006 first round, 25 against Saint Joseph's in this year's first round and 15 versus Louisville in this year's second round).
POSTSEASON BANQUET AWARD WINNERS
The following awards were presented at OU's annual postseason banquet on April 21:
The Brent Price Connection to the Community Award: Taylor Griffin
The Roy Marler/Hollis Price Most Inspirational Award: Beau Gerber
The Eduardo Najera Award for Intensity and Toughness: Blake Griffin
The Mookie Blaylock Outstanding Defensive Player Award: David Godbold
The Stacey King Award for Team Leadership: Taylor Griffin
The Harvey Grant Award for Commitment and Overall Improvement: Cade Davis
The Darryl "Choo" Kennedy Leading Rebounder Award: Blake Griffin
The Terry Evans Assists Leader Award: Austin Johnson
The Alvan Adams Award for Academic Excellence: Beau Gerber and Ryan Wright
The Tim McCalister Iron Man Award for Most Minutes: Austin Johnson
The Wayman Tisdale Most Valuable Player Award: Blake Griffin
The Senior Appreciation Award: David Godbold and Longar Longar