OU faces Miners on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT in opening round of tournament in Orlando, Fla.
||Senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald
Oklahoma plays a first-round game in the eight-team Old Spice Classic
on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT when it faces UTEP in Orlando, Fla. The 2-0 Sooners
are coming off a 63-59 road win over UT Arlington on Friday while the 1-1 Miners
lost at Arizona on Thursday, 72-51. Other teams in the Old Spice Classic include
Clemson and Gonzaga (OU's possible second-round opponents), as well as Davidson,
Marist, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
ON THE AIR
Thursday's contest, the first of three over a four-day span for OU in Orlando,
will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430
AM in Tulsa; Sirius 123; XM 191) with Ed Murray and Mike Houck
announcing. The game will be televised by ESPN2 with Jon Sciambi and
Fran Fraschilla calling the action.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
This week's Old Spice Classic marks OU's fifth straight Thanksgiving
week tournament. The Sooners advanced to the championship game of last year's
76 Classic (2-1 record), competed in the 2010 Maui Invitational (0-3), the 2009
Great Alaska Shootout (1-2) and won the 2008 NIT Season Tip-Off (4-0).
OU owns a 2-1 all-time record against UTEP. Thursday's game will mark the
first matchup outside the state of Oklahoma (two games in Norman, one in Oklahoma
The Sooners have held their first two opponents to combined shooting percentages
of .363 from the field and .176 from 3-point range (6-for-34). OU's 3-point
field goal percentage defense is tops in the Big 12.
Thursday's game will mark the second of five straight Oklahoma contests away
from Norman. Seven of OU's first nine games are away from home.
OU's .328 field goal percentage at UT Arlington on Friday was its lowest in
victory in five seasons (beat Colorado 54-49 while also shooting .328 in 2008
Big 12 Tournament first round). The field goal mark was the Sooners' lowest
in victory in a true road game in at least 32 years.
The Sooners have exhibited a balanced offensive attack through two games,
with six players averaging between 8.0 and 13.0 points per contest. Ten players
average between 14.5 and 26.5 minutes per game.
OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its scoring from last season,
but newcomers rank first, third and fifth in scoring average through two games.
After averaging a +3.3 rebounding margin last season (their best mark in three
years), the Sooners have outboarded their two foes by an average of 14.5 this
season. They were +19 against ULM and +10 at UT Arlington.
With its 63-59 win at UT Arlington on Friday, OU has already matched its win
total in true road games from each of the last three years. The Sooners were
1-9 in true road contests each of the last three seasons.
Oklahoma is averaging 15.5 offensive rebounds to its opponents' 8.0, and has
registered a 27-12 advantage in second-chance points.
After being outscored by 261 points from 3-point range last season (average
of 8.4 points per game), the Sooners are outscoring their opponents by 12.0
points per contest from behind the arc this season. OU has 14 3-point makes
while holding foes to 6 treys.
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 with its .805 defensive rebounding percentage. Opponents
have grabbed just 16 offensive rebounds on 82 missed shots (one every five missed
Despite the fact that OU has registered only two fewer turnovers (30) than
its opponents (32), it owns a 38-24 advantage in points off turnovers.
Trailing near the midway point of the first half in each of its first two
games, OU used a 26-5 run against ULM in the season opener and a 22-1 run at
UT Arlington to take double-digit halftime leads.
The Sooners' bench has been key, supplying 67 of the team's 148 points (45
percent) through two games. Three starters from last year (Cameron Clark,
Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms have come off the bench the first
| Sooner to Watch
Romero Osby | Sr. | Forward
Averaging 9.5 points in just 19.0 minutes
per game through two outings
Ranks seventh in the Big 12 Conference with his 8.5 rebounds
Had a double-double at UT Arlington with
10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds
Big 12's leading returning rebounder
and seventh-leading returning scorer
Freshman guard Buddy Hield leads the team in scoring with his 13.0
average in 20.5 minutes per game off the bench. The Freeport, Bahamas, native
is shooting a team-best .588 from the field (10-for-17) and has knocked down
3 treys on 7 attempts (.429). Hield was the catalyst during a 22-1 OU run at
UT Arlington on Friday, scoring 16 of the team's points during the stretch to
help turn a 19-11 deficit into a 33-20 lead. He scored all 17 of his points
in the first half. Projected to 40 minutes a game, Hield is averaging a team-high
Senior guard Steven Pledger leads the Big 12 with his 3.5 3-pointers
per game (shooting .438) and is averaging 12.0 points in 24.5 minutes a game.
The league's leading returning scorer from last season (16.2 ppg), Pledger continues
to climb OU's career charts in scoring and 3-pointers. He ranks 33rd in school
history with 1,046 points and fifth in 3-pointers (185).
Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Amath M'Baye and senior forward Romero Osby have posted almost identical numbers through two games. While
both are averaging 9.5 points, M'Baye is averaging a team-high 9.0 rebounds
per game and Osby 8.5. M'Baye ranks third in the league in overall rebounding
and offensive rebounding (3.0) per game, while Osby ranks seventh in boards
per contest. Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (averaged 7.8
Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak has contributed across the board in
OU's first two games, averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and a
team-high 2.5 steals in a team-high 26.5 minutes per game. A starter in both
contests, he also leads the team with 10 free throw attempts (has made just
A starter every game the last two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has come off the bench each of the first two games to average 8.0 points and
4.0 rebounds. He is shooting .500 (8-for-16) from the field in 17.0 minutes
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). Grooms has come off the bench in both games this season and has racked
up 7 assists against just 1 turnover (his 7.0 ratio again leads the league).
He played the last several minutes of OU's narrow victory at UT Arlington on
UTEP is 1-1 on the year with a 69-49 season-opening home win over Oral Roberts
and a 72-51 loss at Arizona. The Miners are shooting .426 from the field, .286
from 3-point range (6-for-21) and .667 from the free throw line (22-for-33).
They are getting outrebounded by 9.5 a game but have committed 8.5 fewer turnovers
The Miners return 65 percent of their scoring and 72 percent of their rebounding
from last year's 15-17 team that tied for eighth place in Conference USA with
a 7-9 record. Freshman Chris Washburn has led the team offensively so
far, however, averaging 12.5 points on 10-for-13 (.769) field goal shooting.
He scored 14 points against Oral Roberts and 11 at Arizona, both in a reserve
Washburn's older brother, sophmore Julian Washburn, ranks second on
the squad with his 11.0 points per game. The guard/forward, who made the Conference
USA All-Freshman Team last year, is shooting .308 from the field (8-for-26).
Fellow sophomore guard/forward Jalen Ragland is averaging 9.0 points
while junior center John Bohannon and senior guard Jacques Streeter contribute 8.5 per contest. Bohannon averaged team highs of 11.5 points and
7.3 rebounds last year, while Streeter, who leads the squad with his 4.5 assists
per game this season, averaged 7.2 points and a team-high 4.4 assists a year
UTEP is under the direction of second-year head coach Tim Floyd, who
owns a 16-18 record with the Miners. His is in his 19th year as a collegiate
head coach, with previous stops at Idaho, New Orleans, Iowa State and USC. He
also coached the NBA's Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.
The Sooners own a 2-1 record against UTEP with both victories coming at the
OU Field House when the Miners went by Texas Western College. Oklahoma posted
a 76-58 win in its 1959-60 season opener and a 70-58 triumph in the first game
of 1960-61. UTEP won the last meeting, an 89-74 decision in the All-College
Classic in Oklahoma City on Dec. 21, 2009. OU senior Steven Pledger is
the only player on either team's current roster who played in the most recent
matchup (he was scoreless in 18 minutes of action).
THE REST OF THE OLD SPICE CLASSIC FIELD
Oklahoma will play its Old Spice Classic second-round game on Friday against
Clemson (2-0 this year, 16-15 last season) or Gonzaga (3-0 this year, 27-7 last
season) at either 4:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2. After a day off, Sunday's
third-round game will pit the Sooners versus Davidson (1-2, 25-8), Marist (1-2,
14-18), Vanderbilt (1-1, 25-11) or West Virginia (0-1, 19-14). Sunday's championship
game will start at 6 p.m. CT and be televised by ESPN2. All games will be played
at the 5,500-seat HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This
marks the seventh year of the Old Spice Classic. Previous winners include Arkansas
in 2006, North Carolina State in 2007, Gonzaga in 2008, Florida State in 2009,
Notre Dame in 2010 and Dayton last season.