The Sooners are in the midst of a 10-day break between games. While final exams have been the primary focus during the hiatus, OU has also spent plenty of time in the gym on its next opponent, Texas A&M. The Aggies and Sooners met three times last season, and as they prepare for a fourth meeting in less than 11 months, OU is concentrating on itself.
"We're still more concerned with doing our stuff better," Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. "We have to do a better job defensively. We have to be more physical. We still have to do the things we're doing better."
As far as specifically preparing for the 7-1 Aggies in Saturday's All-College Classic game in Oklahoma City, forward Romero Osby revealed what the 6-2 Sooners need to do in order to win.
"Attacking their bigs on the dribble, our guards knocking down shots," said Osby, who averaged a team-high 19.7 points and shot .742 from the field against A&M last year. "Really defend them and be physical with them and try to outrebound them; they're a really good rebounding team. Try to be physical with them and make them do things they don't want to do."
The added twist to this year's All-College Classic is that Texas A&M, for the first time since 1995, is a non-conference opponent. The Aggies are in their first year as a member of the Southeastern Conference. OU holds a 29-10 lead in the all-time series, and a 5-0 series lead in non-conference meetings. The Sooners and Aggies have met once in Oklahoma City, a 128-80 OU win in the All-College Tournament during the 1988-89 season.
Playing Where the Pros Play
Every year since 1983, OU has played in the All-College Tournament/Classic in Oklahoma City. This marks the 11th straight season that the Sooners get to play inside Chesapeake Energy Arena as part of the event. Playing at the home of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder presents a special and unique experience for the Sooners.
"It's always fun to get to play in Chesapeake," Osby said. "I played there last year and it was a really good experience. It has an NBA feel because it's big and has a lot of seats. The floor is different and the goals are different. It's always fun to be able to play in a different environment, especially an NBA environment."
One player in particular who is anxious for Saturday to arrive is senior guard Steven Pledger. In last year's All-College Classic matchup against Houston inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, Pledger torched the Cougars for 31 points in a 79-74 OU win. Pledger was 10-for-13 from the field, 4-for-5 from 3-point range and 7-for-7 from the free throw line while also grabbing a career-high 10 boards for his lone career double-double.
"I like playing there," said Pledger. "Last year there was a feeling during warm-ups; the ball was going in and there was just a different vibe about it. During the game, I was just playing and wasn't really thinking about anything. That's when I'm at my best, when I'm out there playing and just doing what I have to do to get a win.
"I'm looking forward to Saturday, but not just because of last year. We're playing a good opponent. (Texas A&M guard) Elston Turner plays defense, so it'll be a good matchup."
Not only will Saturday's game give the Sooners a chance to play where the pros play, but it will give OU fans who live in Oklahoma City an opportunity to see their team play a little closer to home.
All-College Classic History
The All-College Classic lists 16 players on its all-time greats that have played in the nation's oldest tournament, 12 of which have since been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Players like Pete Maravich, Bill Russell and Karl Malone all took part in the All-College Classic before cementing their legacies in the NBA.
"A lot of great players have played in the All-College Classic," Osby said. "You get a chance to be a part of that legacy and be a part of an ongoing tournament like it is. I think it's the oldest basketball tournament still going on so that's a privilege."
The Sooners get back on the court Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City:
vs. Texas A&M
Tickets | Full Schedule
The Sooners defeated Northwestern State at home before suffering their first road loss of the year:
Freshman G Je'lon Hornbeak "On the defensive side, we're just trying to get around, get more scrappy and fly around. We shot the ball pretty well at Arkansas, but it came down to defensive stops and that's where we lost the game. That's the area we need to improve upon and we've been working really hard on that the last week."
Head Coach Lon Kruger "It's always fun to step out into Chesapeake Arena. The guys I know look forward to it. It's a good opponent in A&M coming in. Most importantly for them, the finals will be behind them so they can concentrate on basketball."
Oklahoma owns a 29-10 series advantage against Texas A&M, but nine of the Aggies' 10 wins have come over the past six seasons. A&M has won nine of the last 13 matchups.
A&M won two of the three meetings with OU last year. Each team won close games at home, and the Aggies notched a 62-53 victory in the first round of the Big 12 Championship.
This year's All-College Classic marks the 35th such event for Oklahoma and the 30th straight. The Sooners own a 51-11 (.823) all-time record in the All-College and have claimed 25 championships.
Saturday's contest will mark Oklahoma's seventh away from home in the last eight games. The Sooners play just two of their first nine games at Lloyd Noble Center this year.
After playing six games in a span of 13 days, Saturday's contest against Texas A&M will mark OU's first in 11 days. The Sooners will host Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 18 before having another 10 days between games (host Ohio on Dec. 29).
Senior F Romero Osby
Osby averaged 19.7 points in three games against Texas A&M last year. He shot .742 from the field (23-for-31) in those contests and scored a career-high 24 points in the Sooners' 65-62 win in Norman.
Senior G Steven Pledger Pledger turned in one of his best career performances in last year's 79-74 All-College Classic win over Houston. He scored 31 points (second highest career total and highest in regulation) and pulled down a career-high 10 boards for his lone career double-double.
Head Coach Lon Kruger Sooners head coach Lon Kruger is making his third appearance in the All-College Classic. As head coach at Florida during the 1995-96 season, Kruger led the Gators to the All-College title with wins over Louisiana Tech (71-56) and Oklahoma (76-72 in overtime). SOCIAL MEDIA
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