MEN'S BB: Sooners Return Home Wednesday

Oklahoma returns Lloyd Noble Center after a two-game stint at the famed Madison Square Garden last week in New York City. The Sooners, who were 1-1 on their Big Apple outing, take on Morehead State at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

From NYC back to the LNC.

That's the trek of the Oklahoma men's basketball this week. The Sooners are back from the 2K Hoops College Hoops Classic in New York City and return to the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday when they host Morehead State.

Oklahoma upped its record to 4-1 on its first road trip of the season, losing to Memphis (63-53) in the semifinals last Thursday before rebounding on Friday to knock off Gardner-Webb (69-55) in the consolation game.

In the most recent win, senior center Longar Longar made his first start of the season and answered with 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Longar has come on strong of late, averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 boards in the Sooners' last three games.

Blake Griffin scored a team-high 17 points and pulled down eight boards against Gardner-Webb. Guard Tony Crocker came off the bench for the first time this year and provided 11 points.

Defense saved the Sooners against the Runnin' Bulldogs as Oklahoma's offense struggled much of the night. Not until the closing minutes did OU begin to pull away.

However, the defense held Gardner-Webb to .267 field goal shooting, the lowest figure by an OU opponent since Norfolk State shot .246 in the 2006 season opener (a span of 35 games).

The Runnin' Bulldogs kept in the game by knocking down 14-of-37 3-pointers. They were a paltry 5-for-31 (.161) from two-point range.

Coach Jeff Capel once again switched up Oklahoma's starting lineup, something he's been doing since the season opener.

"I just tried to find the right mix and combination. I'm trying to figure it out," he said. "I hope our guys are not that concerned about starting.

"You shouldn't play this game to start. You should play this game to be a part of the team. Everyone has an important role, so we don't get caught up in who is starting."

Numbers back up Capel's words.

Through five games, 10 players are averaging at least 10 minutes a contest. Nine players average 4.3 points or more.

Currently, Griffin leads the team with 14.8 points and 8.6 boards an outing. Longar's recent surge has him averaging 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Crocker's scoring 10.8 points and shooting a team-best .429 from 3-point range.

Morehead State will enter Norman with a 1-2 record. The Eagles dropped an 86-70 decision at Bowling Green on Saturday.

The loss was despite a 35-point outburst by Leon Buchanan, a 6-foot-5 junior forward. The performance earned Buchanan, who came to Morehead from Abraham Baldwin (Ga.) Community College, the Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week award.

Buchanan is averaging a team-high 18 points and adds 5.7 rebounds. He's the only Eagle scoring in double digits. Forward-center Kenneth Faried and guard Maze Stalworth average nine points apiece.

The Eagles are similar to the Sooners in that nine players are averaging 12 or more minutes a game.

Morehead State opened the season with an 83-54 loss at Houston. It followed that with a 61-49 win at home over Western Illinois.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories