Sooners look to improve to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in true road contests in 6 p.m. CT nationally televised game.
||Senior Guard Sam Grooms
After playing its first home game in 19 days last Friday, Oklahoma
goes back on the road for a 6 p.m. CT Tuesday contest at Arkansas inside Bud
Walton Arena. The Sooners, who are tied with Kansas and Kansas State for the
best record in the Big 12 (6-1), are coming off a 69-65 win over Northwestern
State that marked Lon Kruger's 500th career collegiate victory. The Razorbacks
are coming off a 91-82 home loss to Syracuse on Friday that dropped them to
3-3 (they started the season 3-0).
ON THE AIR
Tuesday'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
announcing. The game will be televised by ESPN2 with Mark Jones and Jimmy
Dykes calling the action.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
Arkansas leads the all-time series with Oklahoma 14-12, but OU has
won seven of the last nine meetings dating back to the 1998-99 season.
Oklahoma has already won as many games away from home this season (4-1 record)
as it did all of last season (4-11 record). The Sooners play seven of their
first nine games away from home, their most in 37 years (played eight of their
first 10 away from home in 1975-76).
The Sooners are 2-0 in true road games this year after going 1-9 in each of
the previous three seasons.
OU has played five games this year decided by 7 points or less and has won
all five. Last year it finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
Oklahoma's top five scorers are averaging between 7.3 and 11.1 points per
game. Each of the five has attempted between 55 and 57 field goals on the season.
The Sooners have exhibited a balanced offensive attack through seven
games, with six players averaging between 6.9 and 11.1 points per contest. Nine
players average between 15.3 and 24.9 minutes per game. A Sooner has played
at least 30 minutes in a game just three times this year (Amath M'Baye
32 vs. West Virginia, Steven Pledger 31 at UT Arlington and Romero
Osby 30 vs. UTEP).
OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its scoring from last season,
but newcomers rank second, fourth, sixth and seventh in scoring average. The
team's four newcomers have accounted for 46 percent of the team's points (215
Oklahoma has not been outrebounded in any of its six wins (+6.7 margin per
contest). In its loss to Gonzaga, OU was outboarded by 27 (51-24).
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 3.0 points
per contest from behind the arc this season. OU has 36 3-point makes while holding
foes to 29 treys (ranks second in Big 12 with fewest opponent 3's per game [4.1]).
Despite the fact that OU has registered only 10 fewer turnovers (90) than
its opponents (100), the Sooners own a 120-78 advantage in points off turnovers.
In four of Oklahoma's wins, the game was tied or the Sooners trailed with
under six minutes to go. OU was tied 57-57 at UT Arlington with 2:30 remaining
(won 63-59), was tied 62-62 vs. West Virginia with 5:30 left (won 77-70), trailed
60-59 at Oral Roberts with 3:00 remaining (won 63-62) and trailed Northwestern
State 63-61 with 2:15 left (won 69-65).
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 scored the first
15 points of their Nov. 22 win over UTEP, used a 24-8 first-half run against
West Virginia on Nov. 25 to go up by 12 points, closed last Wednesday's game
at Oral Roberts on a 19-8 run to win by one and finished with a 12-2 run Friday
to beat Northwestern State by four.
The Sooners' bench has been key, supplying 180 of the team's 472 points (38
percent). OU's bench has been outscored just twice in seven games (vs. Gonzaga
and Northwestern State). Three starters from last year (Cameron Clark,
Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms have come off the bench each
of the first seven contests).
| Sooner to Watch
Andrew Fitzgerald | Sr. | Forward
Has come off the bench to average 7.3
points and 3.3 rebounds a game
Had a season-high 17 points with a game-high
8 rebounds last year against Arkansas
Averaged 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds the past
2 years against Arkansas
Had 8 points, 3 rebounds and hit both free throws
vs. Northwestern State Friday
Senior forward Romero Osby leads the team in scoring (11.1
ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (7.0 rpg) in 23.4 minutes a contest. Over
the last three games, he has been held to an average of 10.0 points and 5.7
boards. Osby made the Old Spice Classic all-tourney team after averaging 12.3
points and 7.0 rebounds (shot .565 from the field). The transfer who played
his first two seasons at Mississippi State is the Big 12's leading returning
rebounder (averaged 7.8 last year). He has started all 38 games of his OU career.
The Nov. 26 Big 12 Rookie of the Week, Amath M'Baye averages 10.1 points
and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game. He has led OU in rebounding in each of
the last three games and is averaging 13.0 points and 7.7 rebounds during the
stretch while shooting .520 from the field (13-for-25). The junior forward scored
a season-high 19 points in a win over West Virginia in the Old Spice Classic
third-place game. M'Baye, a transfer from Wyoming, leads the team with his .456
field goal percentage and with his 18 offensive rebounds (2.6 per game).
Senior guard Steven Pledger averages 9.9 points in 24.3 minutes an
outing. He ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 2.0 treys per game but is just
4-for-16 over the last four games (was 10-for-22 in the first three contests).
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 31st in school
history with 1,091 points and fifth in 3-pointers (192). He has started his
last 39 games.
Freshman guard Buddy Hield has come off the bench in all seven games
and ranks fourth on the team with his 8.9 points in 21.1 minutes per contest.
The Freeport, Bahamas, native ranks third on the squad with his 3.8 rebounds
a game. Sixty percent of his rebounds (15 of 25) have come on the offensive
end. In his top two scoring games, all of his output came in one half. At UT
Arlington on Nov. 16, Hield scored 17 first-half points. Last Wednesday at Oral
Roberts, he netted all 11 of his points in the game's final 13:28.
Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak has contributed across the board in
OU's first seven games, averaging 6.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and
a team-high 1.4 steals in 22.1 minutes per game. He has started all seven contests
and hit a 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining on Friday to give the Sooners the lead
for good against Northwestern State.
A starter every game the last two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald
has come off the bench each game this year to average 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds
in 20.0 minutes an outing. He needs just 46 points to become the 39th member
of OU's 1,000-point club. The last two years against Arkansas, Fitzgerald averaged
17.5 points (.560 field goal shooting) and 10.5 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 has come off the bench in every game this season and has racked up
a team-high 20 assists against just 6 turnovers (his 3.3 ratio would ranks second
in the league if he had enough assists to qualify in the category).
OU's top five individual scoring performances have been turned in by five
different players (19 by M'Baye, 17 by Hield, 16 by Osby, 15 by Pledger and
14 by Hornbeak).
Picked fifth out of 14 teams in the preseason SEC media poll, Arkansas
enters Tuesday's game with a 3-3 record. The Razorbacks have lost three straight
contests (83-68 vs. Arizona State in Las Vegas, 77-70 vs. Wisconsin in Las Vegas
and 91-82 at home to No. 6 Syracuse on Friday). Their wins came at home against
Sam Houston State (73-68), Longwood (112-63) and Florida A&M (89-60).
Arkansas ranks 16th nationally with its 82.3 points per game despite .429
field goal and .262 3-point field goal marks. Opponents are shooting .443 from
the field and .360 from behind the 3-point line, but have also committed 8.0
more turnovers per contest (the Razorbacks' +8.0 turnover margin ranks fifth
in the country). UA is getting outrebounded by 3.3 per contest.
Sophomore guard B.J. Young ranks 15th nationally with his 21.4 points
per game. The first-team preseason All-SEC selection is shooting .467 from the
field, .158 (3-for-19) from 3-point range and .667 (20-for-30) from the free
throw line in his five contests (missed the season opener against Sam Houston
State). He also averages 4.0 rebounds and a team-high 2.8 assists per outing.
Young scored a season-high 29 points vs. Arizona State and netted 25 against
Junior forward Marshawn Powell averages 13.3 points and 5.5 rebounds
in 21.8 minutes per game. Powell, a second-team preseason all-conference pick,
is shooting .467 from the field and is coming off a 19-point, 7-rebound effort
Mike Anderson is 221-115 (.658) in his 11th year as a collegiate head
coach and second season at Arkansas (21-17). The head coach at Missouri the
previous five seasons, he was an Arkansas assistant coach from 1986 to 2002
and won a national title with the Razorbacks in 1994.
Tuesday's game will mark the 27th between Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the 12th
meeting in Fayetteville. Despite winning seven of the last nine overall meetings
against the Razorbacks, OU trails the all-time series by a 14-12 count. The
Razorbacks lead 8-3 in games played in Fayetteville. OU swept a four-game home-and-home
series between the 1998-99 and 2001-02 seasons and has posted wins in three
of the last five years.
LAST YEAR AGAINST ARKANSAS
Oklahoma fell behind 4-0 then went on a 22-3 run to go up by 15 eight
minutes into the game in an eventual 78-63 home win over Arkansas on Dec. 10,
2011. OU's 37-25 halftime lead was whittled to six points (41-35) with 15:21
left but the Sooners answered with a 7-0 spurt to go back up by 13. The Razorbacks
got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
OU shot .520 from the floor, .500 (8-for-16) from 3-point range and .783 from
the free throw line. Arkansas shot .345 from the field and .259 (7-for-27) from
Junior guard Steven Pledger led OU in scoring with 22 points (19 after
halftime). He was 9-for-12 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range (8-for-8
and 2-for-2 in the second half).
Sophomore forward Tyler Neal subbed for fellow sophomore Cameron Clark
(two fouls in first 1:25) and went on to post career highs of 18 points, 4 3-pointers
(on eight attempts) and 4 assists in a career-high-tying 28 minutes. He was
5-for-9 from the field and also pulled down 5 rebounds. Neal also drained all
four of his free throw attempts.
Celebrating his 21st birthday, junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald scored
a season-high 17 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds in just 23
minutes. He scored all of his points and grabbed all but one of his rebounds
in the first half (battled foul trouble after halftime). Fitzgerald made his
first six field goal attempts and finished 7-for-11.
Oklahoma committed 17 turnovers to Arkansas' 13, but OU posted a 19-10 advantage
in points off turnovers. The Sooners also outrebounded the Razorbacks by 12
FRIDAY'S NORTHWESTERN STATE RECAP
Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger registered his 500th career
collegiate victory as the Sooners beat Northwestern State 69-65 on Friday in
Norman. The Demons entered the game ranked fourth nationally with their 88.2
points per game and were shooting .491 from the field (OU held them to a .379
The Sooners won for the third time this year when shooting below .400 from
the field (.393). Their .417 3-point effort (5-for-12) was their best of the
Trailing 63-57, the Sooners outscored the Demons 12-2 over the game's final
5:24. OU held NSU to 1-for-11 shooting during the stretch (the Demons scored
on just one of their final 10 possessions).
Freshman Je'lon Hornbeak's 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining gave the Sooners
a 64-63 lead they did not relinquish.
All 20 players who saw the court (10 each team) wound up scoring. Romero
Osby was the only Sooner in double figures. He finished with 11 points and
a team-high-tying 8 rebounds before fouling out with 5:35 remaining. Osby was
just 1-for-8 from the field but tied career highs with 9 free throws and 12
Guards Steven Pledger and Isaiah Cousins each contributed 9
points for OU. Pledger was 3-for-6 from the field and Cousins was 4-for-7. The
point total for Cousins was the second highest of the year, and he added 5 rebounds
(season high), 4 assists and 2 steals.
Oklahoma's bench was outscored for just the second time this season (38-25).
Four of Northwestern State's top four scorers entering the night came off the
bench in the contest.