Hoops Preview: Texas Longhorns

Playing their Big 12 home opener, Oklahoma (15-1) looks to snap a six-game losing streak against Texas (12-3) when it hosts the Longhorns on Monday at 8 p.m. CST.

GAME SPECIFICS
Teams: No. 6/6 Oklahoma (15-1) vs. No. 7/7Texas (12-3)
Date: Monday, Jan. 12
Tip: 8:05 p.m. CST
Site: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network 
(KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KMOD 97.5 FM in Tulsa)
TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Series: OU leads 45-27 (21-9 in Norman) 
PREVIEWING MONDAY'S GAME

Playing their Big 12 home opener, Oklahoma (15-1) looks to snap a six-game losing streak against Texas (12-3) when it hosts the Longhorns on Monday at 8 p.m. CST. The Sooners, who have won their last 13 at Lloyd Noble Center (9-0 this year), are coming off a 61-53 road win at Kansas State. Texas, a 75-67 home victor over Iowa State on Saturday, is 1-1 in road contests. Monday's game will be nationally televised in high definition by ESPN with Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe announcing. It will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KMOD FM 97.5 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

TICKET INFORMATION

Reserved seats are available for $30 (upper north and south) and $45 (upper east and west) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online at SooonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Monday.

TEXAS' PROJECTED STARTERS

F  5   Damion James (6-7, 222, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg)    
F  32  Connor Atchley (6-10, 228, Sr., 6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg)     
C  34  Dexter Pittman (6-10, 298, Jr., 9.3 ppg, 4.9 apg)      
G  3   A.J. Abrams (5-11, 161, Sr., 17.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G  24  Justin Mason (6-2, 194, Jr., 7.1 ppg, 5.3 apg)
OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS
F  23  Blake Griffin (6-10, 251, So., 22.5 ppg, 14.1 rpg)    
F  32  Taylor Griffin (6-7, 238, Sr., 9.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg)     
G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 206, Jr., 10.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg)      
G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 207, Fr., 15.8 ppg, 2.9 apg)
G  20  Austin Johnson (6-3, 176, Sr., 6.6 ppg, 4.3 apg)
"NOTE"WORTHY

• At 15-1, Oklahoma is off to its best start in 23 years (the 1985-86 team won its first 17 games).

• OU has lost six straight games to Texas, all by double figures. Its last win against the Longhorns came in 2006 when the 24th-ranked Sooners handed the fourth-ranked Longhorns an 82-72 defeat in Norman. Despite the six-game skid, Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 45-27, and has won 27 of the last 42 (16-14 since the inception of the Big 12).

• Blake Griffin averaged 18.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three games against Texas last year as a freshman.

• The Sooners have held their last nine opponents to a combined .354 field goal mark. They have held seven of those foes to a figure under .360 and four to a mark under .333. OU paces the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.377).

• Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.5 ppg), rebounding (14.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.647) while ranking fourth in blocked shots (1.4 bpg) and eighth in steals (1.6 spg). The 6-10 sophomore also averages 2.5 assists per contest, more than any other league player taller than 6-5. He has recorded at least two assists in 13 of 16 games.

• Nationally, Griffin ranks first in rebounding, double-doubles (13) and free throw attempts (10.1), and 14th in scoring. • Oklahoma ranks fourth in the country with its 28.6 free throw attempts per game (Xavier leads with 30.1 per contest).

• Over the last six games, the Sooners are shooting .388 from 3-point range and averaging 8.3 treys. Over the first 10 games this season, they shot .311 from behind the arc and averaged 6.4 3-pointers.

• Tony Crocker and Willie Warren have combined for 35 treys over the last six games. Warren is 18-for-33 (.545) in those outings while Crocker is 17-for-42 (.405). Prior to the five-game stretch, each owned a .273 season 3-point figure (12-for-44).

• Warren has scored 105 points over the last five games (31, 35, 14, 15 and 10), the most over a five-game span by an OU true freshman since Tim McCalister 25 years ago (1983-84).

• Despite a modest .665 team free throw percentage (they rank ninth in the Big 12), the Sooners have made seven more foul shots than their opponents have attempted. OU has shot 160 more free throws than its opponents, good for an average of 10.4 more per game. Griffin has attempted 35 percent of the team's free throws (161 of its 457).

SATURDAY'S KANSAS STATE RECAP

• Blake Griffin posted his nation-leading 13th double-double to lead the Sooners to a 61-53 road victory over Kansas State on Saturday. Griffin made 13 field goals (one shy of his career high) and finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and three assists.

• The win snapped a nine-game losing streak against Big 12 North opponents on the road.

• The Sooners held the Wildcats to 28.5 points below their season average and to 10 points below their previous season low (63 versus Iowa). K-State's 53 points tied as the second fewest surrendered by OU in a regular season conference game during the Jeff Capel era. Oklahoma also held Kansas State to a season-low .327 field goal mark (its previous low was .364 versus Kentucky). The Wildcats shot just .257 (9-for-35) in the second half.

• Trailing 26-19, the Sooners went on a 10-0 run over the final 2:57 of the first half. Kansas State was scoreless the last five minutes of the stanza.

• Freshman Willie Warren was 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range to finish with 10 points. It was the fifth straight double-digit scoring game (13th of the year) for the four-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week.

• Junior Tony Crocker (seven points) was held to single figures in scoring for just the second time in the last nine games. His career-high-tying four steals, however, were a factor defensively as Kansas State committed a season-high-tying 20 turnovers (it entered the game averaging 13.4 turnovers).

• The Sooners outscored the Wildcats 42-14 in the paint. Thirty-seven of those OU points came from Blake and Taylor Griffin.

• The win was OU's fourth in its last five trips to Manhattan.

WHO'S HOT

• A strong candidate for national-player-of-the-year honors, sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 20 points in 11 of 16 games this season, at least 25 on six occasions and at least 30 points twice. The 6-10, 251-pounder has registered 13 double-doubles (last year he had 10) and has led OU in rebounding 14 times. Griffin now leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.5 ppg), rebounding (14.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.647). Big 12 players who rank second in the respective categories are Iowa State's Craig Brackins (18.4 ppg) and Kansas' Cole Aldrich (9.9 rpg and .619). Griffin also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 1.4 blocked shots per game (12 of his 23 rejections have come in the last five outings) and eighth with his 1.6 steals per contest.

• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored in double figures in 13 of 16 outings, is averaging 17.7 points and 3.6 assists over the last nine games while shooting .564 from the field and .500 (22-for-44) from 3-point territory. His .506 season field goal percentage is tops among the team's guards and ninth among all Big 12 players.

• Over the last five games, Warren is averaging 21.0 points and 3.8 assists while shooting .579 from the field and .533 (16-for-30) from 3-point range.

• After scoring in double figures once in OU's first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in seven of the last nine. He is averaging 13.4 points over the nine outings and is shooting .389 from 3-point range (21-for-54). By comparison, Crocker averaged 6.6 points and shot .250 from 3-point territory over OU's first seven games this year.

• Even though his scoring average has dropped over the last six games (7.3 ppg during the stretch), senior forward Taylor Griffin has seen his rebounding numbers increase during the span (7.3 rpg).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

• Oklahoma has used the same starting lineup in all 16 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).

• Despite its solid .388 3-point field goal mark over the last six games, OU ranks 10th in the Big 12 in season percentage (.340).

• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 400 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).

• Freshman guard Willie Warren is shooting .506 from the field on the season. The last OU guard to shoot at least .500 from the field for an entire campaign was Nolan Johnson (.559) in 1999-00.

• Brothers Blake and Taylor Griffin are shooting a combined .601 from the field this year and have teamed to pull down 20.8 rebounds a game (56 percent of the team's boards on the year).

• Blake Griffin has accounted for 28 percent of OU's points, 38 percent of its rebounds and 42 percent of its defensive boards in 16 percent of the team's minutes played.

• Blake Griffin has registered at least three assists in 19 of 49 career games (eight times this year). He has recorded at least two assists 32 times in his career (13 times this season).

• Registering 54 blocked shots over his sophomore and junior seasons combined (the most ever during a two-year period by a Sooner standing under 6-foot-8), Taylor Griffin has 17 blocks already this year.

• Forty-one percent of Taylor Griffin's rebounds this year (44 of his 108) have come on the offensive end of the floor.

Cade Davis made all 23 of his free throw attempts last year as a freshman and canned his first three attempts this year before finally missing against Davidson on Nov. 18. He is now 34-for-38 (.895) in his career but has not attempted a free throw over the last eight outings.

• OU will play 21 of its 31 regular season games against teams that made the 2008 postseason (15 against NCAA Tournament teams, four against NIT squads and two against College Basketball Invitational teams). As of Sunday, the Sooners are ranked No. 9 nationally by CollegeRPI.com.

NOTING OU'S 30-POINT PERFORMANCES

• Sophomore Blake Griffin and freshman Willie Warren have each posted back-to-back 30-point performances this season. Griffin netted a career-high 35 points against Gardner-Webb Nov. 22 before scoring 32 four days later against UAB. Warren went for 31 at Rice on Dec. 22 before pouring in a career-high 35 on Tuesday at Arkansas. No other team in the country has had a player combo accomplish the feat this season.

• The last time two Sooners each had back-to-back games of at least 30 points in the same season was in 1993-94 when senior forward Jeff Webster and junior guard/forward Calvin Curry did it.

• The last OU player to register two 30-point games his true freshman season was Tim McCalister in 1983-84. The last OU true frosh to register at least three 30-point games was Wayman Tisdale in 1982-83 (he had a freshman-record nine).

PREVIEWING TEXAS

• Texas comes to Norman with a 12-3 record and a 1-0 Big 12 mark after notching a 75-67 home win over Iowa State on Saturday. It is 1-1 in road games, beating Wisconsin 74-69 on Dec. 23 and losing at Arkansas 67-61 last Tuesday. The other two losses came to Notre Dame (81-80 in Hawaii on Nov. 25) and Michigan State (67-63 in Houston on Dec. 20).

• The Longhorns are outscoring opponents by 12.0 a game and outrebounding them by 5.3 per contest. They are shooting .443 from the field (rank 11th in Big 12), .332 from 3-point range (12th) and .638 from the free throw line (11th). Opponents are shooting .387 from the field and .307 from 3-point range against them.

• Senior guard A.J. Abrams leads three Longhorns who average double figures in scoring. Abrams scores 17.5 points a contest to rank sixth in the Big 12 and averages 3.0 treys to rank third in the league. He's shooting .413 from deep and .843 at the foul line. He's scored in single digits in each of the last three games (averaging 8.0) and has shot .250 from long range (5-for-20).

• Junior forward Damion James is averaging 14.9 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds while shooting .509 from the field.

• Sophomore forward Gary Johnson has come off the bench in all 15 contests to average 11.2 points and 7.1 rebounds. Johnson, who recorded 17 points, nine boards and three blocks against Iowa State, shoots .485 from the field and averages 1.2 blocks.

• Junior center Dexter Pittman averages 9.3 points and 4.9 boards in only 13.9 minutes a game. He shoots .625 from the field and .780 from the free throw line.

• Junior guard Justin Mason, who was a high school teammate of OU's Austin Johnson, contributes 7.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 5.3 assists per game (ranks fourth in Big 12).

• Rick Barnes is in his 11th year as Texas' head coach and owns a 259-96 (.730) record there. The 1977 Lenoir-Rhyne graduate is in his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach and owns a 461-230 (.667) career mark.

SERIES WITH TEXAS

• Oklahoma owns a 45-27 all-time record against Texas and is 21-9 versus the Longhorns in Norman.

• The Sooners have won 27 of the last 42 overall meetings, but Texas has won the last six (all by double digits).

• Oklahoma won eight straight games over Texas from 2000 to 2002 before the Longhorns won the next five meetings in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

• OU is 16-14 against UT since the inception of the Big 12 Conference (that includes a 4-2 record in the league tournament).

LAST YEAR AGAINST THE LONGHORNS

• The Sooners went 0-3 against Texas last year, losing 64-54 in Norman, 62-45 in Austin and 77-49 in Kansas City in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals.

• Blake Griffin averaged 18.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three games against the Longhorns. He recorded double-doubles in Austin (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Kansas City (20, 13), while finishing with 19 points and nine boards in Norman.

• Griffin (.526) was the only Sooner to shoot better than .400 from the field over the three games. OU shot a combined .310 from the floor and .238 from 3-point range (15-for-63). Texas shot .416 and .328 (21-for-64).

• Texas guards D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams averaged 18.3 and 17.0 points, respectively, over the three meetings. Abrams drained 11 treys, seven of them in the Big 12 Championship meeting.

MORE BLAKE

• Blake Griffin scored at least 18 points in each of the season's first nine games, marking OU's longest such streak since guard Corey Brewer netted at least 18 in 15 consecutive outings during the 1997-98 season. Griffin's lone games under 18 points this year were an 11-point performance against Utah when he played a season-low 23 minutes (attempted only three field goals) and a 14-point effort against Coppin State on Jan. 3. He registered double-doubles in both contests.

• Lost in Griffin's gaudy scoring and rebounding statistics are some pretty impressive assist numbers. The forward ranks third on the team with 2.5 assists per game this season and has registered at least one handout in all 16 outings. Last season, Griffin became the first Sooner standing 6-foot-10 or taller to ever dish at least three assists in a game 11 times. He has recorded at least three assists eight times already this year.

• Griffin (14.1 rpg) is on pace to shatter the school record for rebounding average in a season. The standard of 13.3 boards per game was set by Alvan Adams in 1974-75. Griffin is also averaging 10.1 free throw attempts a game (ranks first nationally), a figure that would break Stacey King's 1988-89 school record of 8.9 foul shots per outing.

• Griffin has three games of at least 20 rebounds this season. Only one other player in the country (Gardner-Webb's Joshua Henley) has more than one (he has two).

• Griffin has 45 dunks on the season, good for an average of 2.8 per game.

• Griffin owns the best vertical leap (no step) on the team at 37.5 inches, as well as the best max leap (no limit on steps) by reaching 27 inches above the rim. He also owns an 84.5-inch wingspan (seven feet and one-half inch).

UNDERRATED AUSTIN

A Sooner who tends to get lost among OU's higher-profile players is senior point guard Austin Johnson. The 6-3, 176-pounder ranks just fifth on the team with his 6.6 points per outing but ranks among the Big 12's leaders in several other categories. Johnson leads the league (ranks in the top 10 nationally) in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3-to-1) and ranks seventh in assists (4.3) and and eighth in steals (1.6). He also ranks just outside the top 10 in blocked shots (has 15 in 16 games).

DEFENSE, DEFENSE

• Oklahoma has held its last nine opponents to a combined .357 field goal mark. Seven teams in those nine teams shot below .360.

• OU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.377) and ranks third in steals per game (8.9) and fourth in blocks per contest (4.5).

DOMINATING THE LONE STAR STATE

Oklahoma has had more than its fair share of success against Big 12 Conference teams from Texas. The Sooners own a 131-52 combined all-time record against Baylor (33-5), Texas (45-27), Texas A&M (26-4) and Texas Tech (27-16). Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, OU is 24-0 against Baylor, 16-14 versus Texas, 21-4 against Texas A&M and 18-8 versus Texas Tech.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories