Sooners facing must-win situation in Big D

OU head coach Kelvin Sampson gives instructions during the Sooners practice at the American Airlines Center Wednesday in Dallas. Tip-off for Oklahoma's (18-9, 8-8) first round matchup with Nebraska (16-11, 6-10) is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

THE SETTING
American Airlines Center (Dallas, Texas). Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on KOCB 34 and Cox Channel 11 in Oklahoma City. Dave Armstrong and Paul Splittorff will call the action.

THE TEAMS
#7 Oklahoma (18-9, 8-8) vs. #10 Nebraska (16-11, 6-10)

THE SERIES
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 100-78. The Sooners knocked off the 'Huskers, 52-50, in the only meeting between the two teams this year on Feb. 1 in Lincoln. Lawrence McKenzie led Oklahoma with 18 points in a game where the Sooners blew a 15-point halftime lead.

THE MATCHUP
Oklahoma comes into Thursday's first round game as the three-time defending Big 12 tourney champs and on a nine-game winning streak in tourney play. But if the Sooners are to win a fourth straight title, they're going to have to take a different road than they have in the past. Since the inception of the Big 12, no team which has started play on Thursday and not received a first round bye has won the title. The winner of OU-Nebraska will face Texas at 6 p.m. on Friday.

However, winning the tourney is the last thing on the Sooners' mind. This group of Sooners isn't fighting for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — they're simply fighting to get in it ... period. As of late Wednesday night the Sooners were 49th in the RPI and 0-7 against top 25 RPI foes, therefor a win over Nebraska might not be enough to make the tourney. But a win over Nebraska and a win over Texas in the quarterfinals on Friday would give the Sooners their first win over an RPI top 25 team and a strong claim for an NCAA tournament berth.

Overall, the Sooners are 15-4 in six seasons at the Big 12 tournament.

OKLAHOMA STARTERS
F-32-Johnnie Gilbert (6-8, 265, Jr., 4.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
C-44-Larry Turner (6-11, 235, Fr., 3.2 ppg, 1.0 blk)
G-3-Drew Lavender (5-7, 155, Fr., 11.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.8 apg)
G-5-Jason Detrick (6-6, 215, Sr., 11.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
G-15-De'Angelo Alexander (6-5, 215, So., 10.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

NEBRASKA STARTERS
C-44-Brian Conklin (6-11, 230, Sr., 7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F-50-Andrew Drevo (6-8, 250, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 4.4)
G-3-Marcus Neal Jr. (5-7, 155, Fr., 5.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.9 apg)
G-4-Nate Johnson (6-1, 195, Sr., 13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
G-12-Jake Muhleisen (6-4, 200, Jr., 7.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg)


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