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Oklahoma's competition will pick up considerably Thursday when the Sooners take on No. 3 Memphis at Madison Square Garden. In the meantime, the Sooners have gotten off to a 3-0 start. Following are a few notes and stats as the Sooners prepare for their biggest challenge of the young season.

Jeff Capel has seen some good, some bad and a lot of in-between as his Oklahoma Sooners have jumped out to a 3-0 record on the young season.

True, the Sooners have double-digit wins over San Francisco, Denver and Alcorn State, but that trio that hardly strikes fear in the hearts of many.

The competition picks up considerably Thursday night when the Sooners leave the friendly confines of Lloyd Noble Center for the first time as they travel to New York City's Madison Square Garden.

There, they will take on No. 3 Memphis in the semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

A preview of that contest will appear tomorrow, but first we'll take a look back at the season's three tune-ups. Following are some notes, quotes and observations so far:

1. The Sooners have been slow out of the gates in all three games and Capel is none to happy about it. The second-year coach was visibly perturbed after Monday night's 99-59 win over Alcorn State. Capel said he'd like to see his team quit playing "in spurts," something that led them to a losing Big XII record a year ago.

"I know we're going to have to get better," he said. "I certainly know that we have to start the game better. We have to have more intensity, energy and focus throughout the game."

Capel was also unhappy with his team's play in the final minutes Monday. Though the game was in hand, Capel felt his team was sloppy in going for the spectacular play instead of the productive one.

Problem is, Capel said he and his staff still don't "have a finger" on the solution to their dilemma. He was hoping a step up in competition would be a trigger. Memphis is definitely that.

2. Capel would also like to trip down his playing rotation. Ten players are averaging 12 or more minutes. However, that may still be several games away. Capel will be looking for some of his guys to step up the next few outings to make his decision easier.

3. Freshman Blake Griffin has been as good as expected. The former McDonald's All-American is averaging team-highs in points (16.3) and rebounds (9.0). He's recorded a double-double in two of OU's games. Just as it will for the team, competition will pick up for Griffin, but there's no doubt he possesses a rare blend of size, quickness, power and athleticism.

4. David Godbold led the team with a career-high five assists. Austin Johnson, who only had one in the game, leads the team with nine. The Sooners have 53 assists on the season, compared to 38 turnovers.

5. Tony Crocker is showing little, if any, effects of his preseason leg injury. He scored 16 Monday on 5-of-6 shooting. He's 14-for-19 (.737) from the field this season, second only to Omar Leary.

6. Junior Taylor Griffin is averaging 11.3 points a game, more than he scored in all but four of his 50 games played prior to this season.

7. Oklahoma's bench outscored Alcorn State's bench 38-19. Through three games, the OU bench is outscoring the competition's 90-41.

8. Ten Sooners recorded a made field goal in the first half against Alcorn State. Six different OU players made a 3-pointer in the contest.

9. For the season, Oklahoma has made 91-of-170 field goals (.535), including a solid 23-of-55 (.418) from 3-point range. Opponents are shooting .376 overall and .233 from beyond the arc.

10. Oklahoma has won 100 of its last 111 games inside Lloyd Noble Center and 55 of its last 56 home non-conference games.


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