Hoops Preview: Texas A&M

NORMAN, OKLA -- Oklahoma has held its last 10 opponents to a combined .352 field goal mark. Eight teams in those 10 games shot below .360.

GAME SPECIFICS

Teams: No. 6/5 Oklahoma (16-1, 2-0) at Texas A&M (15-2, 1-1)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Tip: 1:05 p.m. CST
Site: College Station, Texas (Reed Arena)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network 
(KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Sirius 123, XM 144)
TV: ESPN
Series: OU leads 26-4

PREVIEWING SATURDAY'S GAME

Owner of the Big 12 Conference's best record and highest national ranking, No. 6/5 Oklahoma (16-1, 2-0) plays at Texas A&M (15-2, 1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. CST. The Sooners, who are off to their best start since 1985-86, are coming off a 78-63 home win over Texas on Monday. Texas A&M, which is 12-0 at home, defeated Baylor 84-73 in College Station on Wednesday. Saturday's game will be nationally televised by ESPN with Ron Franklin and Stephen Bardo announcing. It will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa; Sirius 123; XM 144) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

TEXAS A&M'S PROJECTED STARTERS

F  0   Bryan Davis (6-9, 240, Jr., 10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg)    
F  23  Josh Carter (6-7, 200, Sr., 13.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg)     
C  41  Chinemelu Elonu (6-10, 235, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 7.8 apg)      
G  3   Derrick Roland (6-4, 190, Jr., 5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G  15  Donald Sloan (6-3, 205, Jr., 11.8 ppg, 3.4 apg)

OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS

F  23  Blake Griffin (6-10, 251, So., 22.4 ppg, 13.8 rpg)    
F  32  Taylor Griffin (6-7, 238, Sr., 8.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)     
G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 206, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)      
G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 207, Fr., 15.9 ppg, 2.8 apg)
G  20  Austin Johnson (6-3, 176, Sr., 7.1 ppg, 4.3 apg)

"NOTE"WORTHY

• At 16-1, Oklahoma is off to its best start in 23 years (the 1985-86 team won its first 17 games).

• OU owns a 26-4 series lead against Texas A&M and is 21-4 against the Aggies since the inception of the Big 12 Conference. In the most recent meeting (a 64-37 win in Norman last March 1), the Sooners set an NCAA Division I record (since the advent of the shot clock in 1986) for length of time holding an opponent scoreless (16:12).

• Oklahoma is 132-52 (.717) all-time against Big 12 teams from the state of Texas (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech).

• The Sooners have held each of their first two Big opponents to their season low in field goal percentage (.327 by Kansas State and .338 by Texas). OU leads the league (all games and Big 12 games only) in field goal percentage defense (.375 and .333).

• Oklahoma has held its last 10 opponents to a combined .352 field goal mark. They have held eight of those foes to a figure under .360 and four to a mark under .333.

• Blake Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.4 ppg), rebounding (13.8 rpg) and field goal percentage (.645) while ranking fourth in blocks (1.4 bpg) and 10th in steals (1.5 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 14 of 17 games, including each of the last six outings.

• Nationally, Griffin ranks first in rebounding and double-doubles (14), second in free throw attempts (9.9) and 14th in scoring.

• Griffin has already tied the Big 12 single-season record for number of 20-point, 15-rebound games (seven). With 14 games remaining on the regular season schedule, he shares the record with Texas' Kevin Durant (2006-07) and Kansas State's Michael Beasley (2007-08). Griffin also has an 18-point, 21-rebound game and a 21-point, 13-rebound outing.

• 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 seven games, the Sooners are shooting .388 from 3-point range and averaging 7.7 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 37 treys over the last seven games. Warren is 18-for-37 (.486) in those outings while Crocker is 19-for-45 (.422). Prior to the five-game stretch, each owned a .273 season 3-point figure (12-for-44).

• Warren has scored 122 points over the last six games (31, 35, 14, 15, 10 and 17), the most over a six-game span by an OU true freshman since Tim McCalister 25 years ago (1983-84).

• Griffin and Warren have accounted for 65 percent of OU's points in its four road games. Griffin is averaging 24.0 points (shooting .594) and 12.0 rebounds in those contests while Warren is averaging 22.5 points (shooting .593) and 4.0 assists.

• Despite a modest .667 team free throw percentage (they rank ninth in the Big 12), the Sooners have made 13 more foul shots than their opponents have attempted. OU has shot 175 more free throws than its foes, good for an average of 10.3 more per game. Griffin has attempted 35 percent of the team's free throws (169 of its 486).

MONDAY'S TEXAS RECAP

• Blake Griffin posted his nation-leading 14th double-double and was one of four Sooners who scored in double figures as OU notched a 78-63 home win over No. 11 Texas to snap a six-game losing streak against the Longhorns.

• Griffin finished with team highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds and added three assists, two blocks and a steal.

• The Sooners held Texas to a season-low .338 field goal mark and a .217 (5-for-23) performance from 3-point range. OU shot .509 from the field and .400 (4-for-10) from behind the arc.

• Oklahoma jumped out to a 24-8 advantage and led 38-27 at halftime. Texas cut the margin to four (54-50) with 11:15 left in the second half before a 12-0 run over the next 6:10 put the Sooners back up by 16 (66-50).

• All three of OU's starting guards scored in double figures. Freshman Willie Warren registered 17 points and a career-high five rebounds, junior Tony Crocker produced 16 points and a career-high-tying nine rebounds, and senior Austin Johnson finished with 15 points and four assists. The trio combined for 48 points (on 16-for-32 shooting), 16 boards and seven assists.

• Senior forward Taylor Griffin, another starter, tallied seven points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots.

• Junior college transfer Juan Pattillo played in his first career game. He played two minutes and attempted one field goal.

• OU held Texas guard A.J. Abrams to .296 field goal (8-for-27) and .200 (3-for-15) 3-point performances.

• The win was OU's 14th straight at home (10th this year) and improved to the Sooners to 46-27 all-time against Texas.

WHO'S HOT

• A strong candidate for national-player-of-the-year honors, sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 20 points in 12 of 17 games this season, at least 25 on six occasions and at least 30 points twice. The 6-10, 251-pounder has registered 14 double-doubles (last year he had 10) and has led OU in rebounding 15 times. Griffin now leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.4 ppg), rebounding (13.8 rpg) and field goal percentage (.645). Big 12 players who rank second in the respective categories are Iowa State's Craig Brackins (18.5 ppg) and Kansas' Cole Aldrich (9.8 rpg and .628). Griffin also ranks fourth in the Big 12 with his 1.5 blocked shots per game (14 of his 25 rejections have come in the last six outings) and 10th with his 1.5 steals per contest.

• Freshman guard Willie Warren, who has scored in double figures in 14 of 17 outings (including the last six), is averaging 17.6 points and 3.3 assists over the last 10 games while shooting .542 from the field and .458 (22-for-48) from 3-point territory. His .497 season field goal percentage is tops among the team's guards and ninth among all Big 12 players.

• Over the last six games, Warren is averaging 20.3 points and 3.3 assists while shooting .543 from the field and .471 (16-for-34) from 3-point range.

• After scoring in double figures once in OU's first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in eight of the last 10. He is averaging 13.7 points over the 10 outings and is shooting .404 from 3-point range (23-for-57). 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 seven 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 17 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).

• Despite its solid .388 3-point field goal mark over the last seven games, OU ranks 11th in the Big 12 in season percentage (.342).

• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 401 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).

• Freshman guard Willie Warren is shooting .497 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 .599 from the field this year and have teamed to pull down 20.6 rebounds a game (55 percent of the team's boards on the year).

• Blake Griffin has accounted for 28 percent of OU's points, 37 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 20 of 50 career games (nine times this year). He has recorded at least two assists 33 times in his career (14 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 20 blocks already this year.

• Forty percent of Taylor Griffin's rebounds this year (46 of his 115) 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 35-for-39 (.897) in his career.

• 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 Wednesday, the Sooners are ranked No. 7 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 Dec. 30 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 A&M

• Texas A&M is the owner of a 15-2 overall record and a 1-1 Big 12 mark following Wednesday's 84-73 home win over Baylor. The Aggies, who are 12-0 at home, have lost only to Tulsa (67-56 at South Padre Island) and at Oklahoma State (72-61).

• Playing its second ranked opponent of the year this Saturday, Texas A&M is outscoring opponents by 8.8 a game and outrebounding them by 5.0 per contest. Is is shooting .439 from the field (ranks 11th in Big 12), .343 from 3-point range (10th) and .715 from the free throw line (fourth). Opponents are shooting .439 from the field and .357 from 3-point range against them.

• Senior forward Josh Carter leads four Aggies who average double figures in scoring. Carter scores 13.2 points a contest while also contributing 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He's shooting .371 from deep (has made a team-high 33 treys) and a team-high .877 from the foul line. As a sophomore, Carter led the country in 3-point field goal percentage (.500).

• Junior guard Donald Sloan is averaging 11.8 points, 3.7 boards and a team-high 3.4 assists while shooting .387 (12-for-31) from downtown. Sloan also owns a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.

• Junior forward Brian Davis averages 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a contest while shooting .560 from the field. Davis averaged 14.7 points over December's final three games and then averaged 4.7 over the next three before scoring 17 against Baylor.

• Junior center Chinemelu Elonu averages 10.5 points and 7.8 boards in only 23.8 minutes a game. He shoots a team-high .664 from the field and also paces the team with his 26 rejections. In Big 12 play, Elonu is averaging 18.5 points and 14.0 rebounds. He recorded 17 points and 16 boards on Wednesday against Baylor.

• Sophomore guard B.J. Holmes has come off the bench in all but two games and averages 9.0 points an outing. He leads the squad with his .395 mark from 3-point range and ranks second with 30 treys.

• Mark Turgeon is in his second year as Texas A&M's head coach and owns a 40-13 (.755) record there. The 1987 Kansas graduate is in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach and owns a 193-132 (.594) career mark.

SERIES WITH TEXAS A&M

Oklahoma owns a 26-4 all-time record against Texas A&M and has won 15 of the series' last 18 meetings (the teams split two games last year). OU is 10-3 all-time against A&M in games played in College Station. The Sooners are 21-4 against the Aggies since the formation of the Big 12 Conference (9-3 in College Station).

LAST YEAR AGAINST THE AGGIES

• The Sooners went 1-1 against Texas A&M last year, losing 60-52 in College Station and winning 64-37 in Norman.

• In the first meeting, Oklahoma led 29-23 at halftime and 51-50 with 3:20 remaining before being outscored 10-1 down the stretch. The Sooners lost despite holding A&M to a .354 field goal mark. The difference came at the foul line, where the Aggies were 23-for-30 and OU was 8-for-13. David Godbold was 6-for-10 from 3-point range and scored 22 points to lead the Sooners (he was the lone OU player in double figures) while Joseph Jones netted 18 to pace A&M.

• In the rematch in Norman, the Sooners turned in one of the best defensive performances in school history. They held Texas A&M scoreless for the final 12:51 of the first half and the first 3:21 of the second half. The effort set an NCAA record (since the advent of the shot clock in 1986) for longest scoring drought by an opponent (16:21). The Aggies missed 20 straight field goal attempts during the stretch. A&M's 10 first-half points were the fewest ever scored by a Big 12 team in a half of a conference game. Longar Longar led OU with 14 points while Josh Carter and Jerome Jordan scored 10 each to lead the Aggies.

• Blake Griffin averaged 9.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the two games (six and eight in College Station and 13 and 8 in Norman). In the second meeting, Griffin sustained a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee and was limited to 23 minutes. He had surgery the following day but only missed one game (a 68-56 win at Oklahoma State).

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 two 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 17 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 nine times already this year.

• Griffin (13.8 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 9.9 free throw attempts a game (ranks second 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 47 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 7.1 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 (3.2-to-1) and ranks seventh in assists (4.3) and 14th in steals (1.5). He also ranks just outside the top 10 in blocked shots (has 16 in 17 games).

DEFENSE, DEFENSE

• Oklahoma has held its last 10 opponents to a combined .352 field goal mark. Eight teams in those 10 games shot below .360.

• OU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.375) and ranks third in steals per game (8.8) and fourth in blocks per contest (4.6).

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 132-52 (.717) combined all-time record against Baylor (33-5), Texas (46-27), Texas A&M (26-4) and Texas Tech (27-16). Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, OU is 80-26 (24-0 against Baylor, 17-14 versus Texas, 21-4 against Texas A&M and 18-8 versus Texas Tech).

AWARDS CENTRAL

Blake Griffin couldn't be off to a better start in terms of turning his Big 12 Preseason-Player-of-the-Year honor into the league's postseason player-of-the-year award. The sophomore forward was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 1 for the third time in three weeks to start the season and picked up a fourth honor on Jan. 12. Griffin, who is only the second player in conference history to earn the weekly honor three straight times (Texas Tech's Andre Emmett did it during the 2003-04 campaign), averaged 25.0 points, 18.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in wins over UAB and Purdue to help OU claim the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off title. Similarly, freshman guard Willie Warren has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week four out of a possible nine times (Nov. 24, Dec. 1, Dec. 29 and Jan. 5). Warren was the unanimous choice as Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year.


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