Previewing Oklahoma

Standing between North Carolina and the Final Four is Oklahoma, led by likely National Player of the Year Blake Griffin. Tip-off Sunday at FedEx Forum is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. and will be televised by CBS.

#1 North Carolina (31-4) vs. #2 Oklahoma (30-5)
Memphis, Tenn. - FedEx Forum
5:05pm, CBS


"They're extremely skilled inside. I think one of the things about them that kind of separates them is they play extremely hard as well. And you know, that's something we're going to have to match. And you know, just play strong defense and be smart about what we do." – Oklahoma senior forward Taylor Griffin on UNC's post play

"We know they've got a great team, great guards. So we've just got to play together out there, try to limit open looks for them and make it tough and contested shots." – OU guard Austin Johnson on defending the perimeter

"I don't really pay that much attention to it. Doesn't really matter. They didn't give us a chance to beat Syracuse. I think Digger Phelps was the only one that picked us." – OU head coach Jeff Capel on the talking heads picking North Carolina to win


Season to Date: Oklahoma enters Sunday's contest with a 30-5 (13-3 Big 12) record. The Sooners shot out to a 27-1 mark, but a Blake Griffin concussion coincided with a late season swoon that witnessed head coach Jeff Capel's squad lose four of six games heading into the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament Results: No. 2 seed Oklahoma dismantled Morgan State, 82-54, before knocking off No. 10 seed Michigan, 73-63, in second round action. Tony Crocker (career-high 28 points) joined Blake Griffin (30 points, 14 rebounds) in breaking down No. 3 seed Syracuse's vaunted matchup zone defense in dispatching the Orange, 84-71, on Friday night in Memphis.

National Player of the Year? The powers that be may as well hand over the national player of the year hardware to super sophomore Blake Griffin. The Big 12 Player of the Year is averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per outing, while shooting 65.1 percent from the field. His 29 double-doubles represent single-season school and conference records, and Griffin has posted three games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds this season. The 6-foot-10, 251-pounder is averaging 30.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.

Fantastic Frosh: Willie Warren is providing the outside play to Griffin's dominance on the interior this season, averaging 14.5 points and 3.1 assists. The unanimous Big 12 Freshman of the Year. The Fort Worth, Tex. native is knocking down 38.0 percent (65-of-171) of his 3-point attempts, including drilling 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from long range in the NCAA Tournament.

Tough on the Percentages: The Sooners shot their way to the top of the Big 12 standings with a 49.2 field goal percentage on the season, while holding down the second spot in field goal percentage defense with a 39.4 mark.

Surprising Stat: Oklahoma ranks 11th in the Big 12 in turnover margin (minus-1.18).

Family Ties: Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel was a four-year starter for Duke University ('94-'97). The 34-year-old averaged 12.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists during his career in Durham, N.C. His younger brother, Jason, logged 1,447 points for North Carolina ('99-'02).

Last Meeting: The eighth-seeded Tar Heels upset No.1 seed Oklahoma, 79-77, in the 1990 NCAA Midwest Regional in Austin, Tex., thanks to a last-second bank shot from the right baseline by Rick Fox.

Series History: North Carolina owns a 2-0 all-time record against Oklahoma. The Tar Heels also defeated the Sooners, 77-69, on Dec. 29, 1982, in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.

Projected Starters:
20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 176, Sr.) – 10.1 ppg, 5.0 apg
13 Willie Warren (6-4, 207, Fr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.5 apg
 5 Tony Crocker (6-6, 206, Jr.) – 9.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 238, Sr.) - 9.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg
23 Blake Griffin (6-10, 251, So.) – 22.7 ppg, 14.4 rpg

Key Reserves:
34 Cade Davis (6-5, 208, So.) – 4.8 ppg

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