Hoops Preview: Baylor (1-24-09)

Oklahoma owns a 33-5 series advantage against Baylor and has won the last 28 meetings. The Sooners possess a 16-2 series lead in games played in Norman and have won 16 straight there.

GAME SPECIFICS
Teams: No. 6/5 Oklahoma (18-1, 4-0) vs. No. -/23 Baylor (15-3, 3-1)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 24
Tip: 3:05 p.m. CST
Site: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network 
(KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)
TV: ESPNU
Series: OU leads 33-5
PREVIEWING SATURDAY'S GAME

Looking to become the country's first 19-win team, No. 6/5 Oklahoma (18-1, 4-0) plays host to Baylor (15-3, 3-1) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CST. The Sooners, who have won 15 straight home games dating back to last year, have won six straight outings and are coming off a 72-61 home win over Nebraska. Baylor, which is 2-1 in road games, won 83-65 at Kansas State on Wednesday. Saturday's game will be nationally televised by ESPNU with Dave Armstrong and Jon Sundvold announcing. It will air on the Sooner Radio Network (flagship KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. and Mike Houck calling the action.

TICKET INFORMATION

Reserved seats are sold out. Restricted admission tickets ($10 each) will go on sale Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center beginning at 1:30 p.m.

BAYLOR'S PROJECTED STARTERS            
F  4   Quincy Acy (6-7, 205, Fr., 7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg)    
F  23  Kevin Rogers (6-9, 250, Sr., 12.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg)     
G  0   Curtis Jerrells (6-1, 205, Sr., 17.1 ppg, 5.8 apg)      
G  5   Henry Dugat (6-0, 173, Sr., 12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G  20  Tweety Carter (5-11, 185, Jr., 11.1 ppg, 3.1 apg)
            
OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS            
F  23  Blake Griffin (6-10, 251, So., 22.3 ppg, 13.6 rpg)    
F  32  Taylor Griffin (6-7, 238, Sr., 9.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)     
G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 206, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg)      
G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 207, Fr., 15.0 ppg, 2.8 apg)
G  20  Austin Johnson (6-3, 176, Sr., 8.1 ppg, 4.5 apg)
"NOTE"WORTHY

• At 18-1, Oklahoma is off to its best start in 23 years (the 1985-86 team also began 18-1). It is tied for the best start in school history among teams that played at least 19 games (the 1927-28 squad went 18-0 on the season).

• OU's 18-1 start ranks as the fourth best with one loss in Big 12 history (the conference began play in 1996-97). Only Kansas has posted better one-loss starts (34-1 in 1996-97, 23-1 in 2007-08 and 20-1 in 2004-05).

• The Sooners are 133-52 (.719) all-time against Big 12 teams from Texas (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech). They are 81-26 (.757) against those programs since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.

• OU owns a 33-5 series lead against Baylor and has won the last 28 meetings. It is the only series in the history of the Big 12 Conference where one team has beaten the other in every matchup (OU is 24-0).

• Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Austin Johnson has scored in double figures in each of the last three games (16.3 ppg) after doing it three times in the season's first 16 contests. OU is 20-1 over the last two seasons when Johnson scores at least 10 points.

• The Sooners have held their first four Big 12 opponents to a combined .371 field goal percentage. Kansas State shot a season-low .327 against OU, Texas shot a season-low .338, Texas A&M shot .420 and Nebraska posted a .407 mark.

• Oklahoma leads the Big 12 (all games) in field goal percentage defense (.378) and ranks second in league games only (.371).

• OU has held eight of its last 12 foes to a field goal figure under .360 and four to a mark under .333.

• Blake Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.3 ppg) and rebounding (13.6 rpg), while ranking second in field goal percentage (.635), fourth in blocks (1.5 bpg) and ninth in steals (1.5 spg). The 6-10 sophomore also averages 2.4 assists per contest, more than any other league player taller than 6-5. He has recorded at least two assists in 15 of 19 games.

• Nationally, Griffin ranks first in rebounding and double-doubles (15), third in free throw attempts (9.7 per game) and 13th in scoring. He entered the week ranked ninth in field goal percentage.

• Griffin's 27 points and 18 rebounds versus Nebraska Wednesday gave him the Big 12 single-season record for number of 20-point, 15-rebound games (eight). He was tied with Texas' Kevin Durant (2006-07) and Kansas State's Michael Beasley (2007-08) entering Wednesday action. Griffin also has an 18-point, 21-rebound game and a 21-point, 13-rebound outing.

• Over the last nine games, the Sooners are shooting .392 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 44 treys over the last nine games. Warren is 21-for-42 (.500) from deep in those nine outings while Crocker is 23-for-55 (.418). Prior to the stretch, each owned a .273 season 3-point figure (12-for-44).

• Despite a modest .670 team free throw percentage (they rank ninth in the Big 12), the Sooners have made four more foul shots than their opponents have attempted. OU has shot 177 more free throws than its foes, good for an average of 9.3 more per game. Griffin has attempted 35 percent of the team's free throws (184 of its 525).

WEDNESDAY'S NEBRASKA RECAP

• Oklahoma overcame a 38-32 halftime deficit to post a 72-61 home win over a tough Nebraska team Wednesday. OU outscored the Huskers 40-23 after halftime and used a 19-8 run over the last 6:36 to capture its nation-leading 18th victory.

• The Sooners' 72 points marked a Nebraska opponent season high. The Huskers entered the game ranked second nationally in points allowed per game (55.8). Their previous season high allowed was 66.

• Nebraska shot .500 from the field and .545 (6-for-11) from 3-point range in the first half, but managed respective .310 and .167 (2-for-12) figures after halftime. Conversely, OU shot .393 overall in the first half before posting a .538 mark in the second.

• When Nebraska went ahead 11-9 at the 15:45 mark of the first half, it marked OU's first deficit since late in the first half of its Big 12 opener at Kansas State Jan. 10 (a span of more than five halves). OU never trailed against Texas or Texas A&M.

• Blake Griffin notched his 15th double-double of the year with game highs of 27 points and 18 rebounds. He added two assists, three blocks and two steals while going 11-for-16 from the field. He made 11 of his last 12 field goal attempts.

• Griffin also set the Big 12 single-season record for games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds (it was his eighth).

• Austin Johnson recorded his third straight game of at least 15 points (finished with 15) with the help of 3-for-6 shooting from behind the arc. He also logged three rebounds, five assists and a block while committing just one turnover.

• Tony Crocker also nailed three 3-pointers (on seven attempts) to finish with 12 points. His five assists were a season high.

• OU committed season lows of 11 fouls and seven turnovers. Nebraska entered the game forcing 18.7 turnovers per outing.

WHO'S HOT

• A strong candidate for national-player-of-the-year honors, sophomore forward Blake Griffin has scored at least 20 points in 13 of 19 games this season and at least 25 on seven occasions. The 6-10, 251-pounder has registered 15 double-doubles (last year he had 10) and has led OU in rebounding 17 times. Griffin leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.3 ppg) and rebounding (13.6 rpg). Big 12 players who rank second in the respective categories are Kansas' Sherron Collins (18.3 ppg) and Oklahoma State's Obi Muonelo (9.8). Griffin also ranks second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (.635), fourth in blocks (1.5) and ninth in steals (1.5).

• After averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 assists per game in non-conference play, senior guard Austin Johnson is averaging 13.8 points and 5.3 assists in four league games. He is 8-for-16 from 3-point range, owns a 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and has blocked five shots in those four. On the season, he averages 1.0 rejection per contest (more than any other Big 12 guard).

• Over the last eight games, freshman Willie Warren is averaging 17.1 points while shooting .544 from the field and .487 (19-for-39) from deep.

• After scoring in double figures once in OU's first seven games, sophomore guard Tony Crocker has done it in nine of the last 12. He is averaging 12.9 points over the 12 outings and is shooting .403 from 3-point range (27-for-67). By comparison, Crocker averaged 6.6 points and shot .250 from 3-point territory over OU's first seven games this year.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

• Oklahoma has used the same starting lineup in all 19 games (Austin Johnson, Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, Taylor Griffin, Blake Griffin).

• During their current six-game winning streak, the Sooners are outshooting their opponents from the field, .483 to .356.

• OU is shooting .701 from the free throw line at home while shooting .629 in eight games away from Lloyd Noble Center.

• Oklahoma has made at least one 3-pointer in 403 consecutive games (last one without a trey was at Memphis on Dec. 23, 1996).

• OU ranks sixth in the country in free throw attempts per game (27.6).

• Freshman guard Willie Warren is shooting .500 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 .590 from the field this year and have teamed to pull down 20.1 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 41 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 52 career games (nine times this year). He has recorded at least two assists 34 times in his career (15 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 24 blocks already this year to rank sixth in the Big 12 (1.3 per game).

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 37-for-43 (.860) 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 Friday, the Sooners are ranked No. 3 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 BAYLOR

• Baylor enters Saturday's game with a 15-3 overall record and a 3-1 Big 12 mark following Wednesday's 83-65 win at Kansas State. The Bears also won at home against Texas Tech (73-61) and Oklahoma State (98-92 in overtime) in league play, while losing at Texas A&M (84-73).

• One of the most efficient offenses in the Big 12, Baylor averages 83.1 points a game to rank third in the league, shoots a conference-high .495 from the field and .396 from behind the 3-point arc to rank second. It also ranks second with its 8.8 treys per game.

• Senior guard Curtis Jerrells leads five Bears who average double figures in scoring. Jerrells averages 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and a team-high 5.8 assists per contest (ranks third in Big 12). He is shooting .357 from 3-point range (30 makes) and .740 from the free throw line (averages a team-high 7.1 attempts per outing)

• Sophomore guard LaceDarius Dunn, who netted 33 points Wednesday on 9-for-12 shooting from behind the arc, comes off the bench to average 16.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. He leads the team with 61 treys and is shooting .433 from long distance.

• Senior guard Henry Dugat contributes 12.8 points, 3.6 boards, 2.8 assists and a team-high 2.1 steals per outing. Another serious long-distance threat, Dugat has canned 27 3-pointers on the year and is shooting .415 from behind the arc.

• Senior forward Kevin Rogers is Baylor's chief inside threat and supplies 12.3 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game. The lefty is shooting .526 from the field.

• Junior guard Tweety Carter averages 11.1 points a game and ranks second with his 32 treys (shooting .438 from long range).

• Scott Drew is in his sixth year as Baylor's head coach and owns a 72-83 (.465) record there. The 1993 Butler graduate is in his seventh season as a collegiate head coach (he was at Valparaiso for one year) and owns a 92-94 (.495) career mark.

SERIES WITH BAYLOR

Oklahoma owns a 33-5 series advantage against Baylor and has won the last 28 meetings. The Sooners possess a 16-2 series lead in games played in Norman and have won 16 straight there. The last Baylor win against OU came on Dec. 6, 1977, in Norman (75-67). OU is 24-0 against the Bears since the inception of the Big 12 Conference and has won its 12 series home games during the span by an average of 24.8 points.

LAST YEAR AGAINST THE BEARS

• The Sooners went 2-0 against Baylor last year, winning 77-71 in Waco and 91-91 in overtime in Norman.

• In the first meeting on Jan. 28, Blake Griffin returned sooner than expected from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee to register team highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds in only 22 minutes to help OU to the six-point victory over the No. 25 Bears. The Sooners led by nine at halftime and by as many as 16 in the second half before Baylor went ahead 71-70 with 1:57 left. Griffin scored on OU's next possession, though, to put it ahead for good. Four Sooners in addition to Griffin scored in double figures. Austin Johnson finished with 15 points, Longar Longar 13, Tony Crocker 11 and David Godbold 10. Baylor was paced by Curtis Jerrells' 17 points while Kevin Rogers tallied 13 points and 16 boards.

• The Feb. 19 rematch in Norman proved to be one of the most exciting finishes in OU history. The Sooners squandered a nine-point second-half lead with 3:30 remaining and Jerrells forced overtime with a shot at the buzzer. Baylor scored the first seven points of the extra period and still led by six with under a minute to play. Down three, Crocker converted a 4-point play ith 7.3 seconds remaining to put OU up by a point. Godbold was called for a foul with 1.0 second left, but Jerrells missed both free throws and the Sooners prevailed. Crocker scored the game's last seven points over the final 21 seconds. Griffin finished with a then-career-high 29 points and 15 rebounds while Crocker scored 20 and Johnson 19. Crocker was 5-for-7 from 3-point distance while Johnson added five assists against one turnover. Jerrells netted 29 points and Rogers finished with 18.

• Griffin averaged 23.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the two games, and went 14-for-21 (.667) from the free throw line. He was named Big 12 Player of the Week following the first meeting. Johnson averaged 17.0 points in the two outings while Crocker averaged 15.5. The guards made six 3-pointers each.

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 three games under 18 points this year were an 11-point performance against Utah Dec. 13 when he played a season-low 23 minutes (attempted only three field goals), a 14-point effort against Coppin State Jan. 3, and a 16-point afternoon last Saturday at Texas A&M.

• Lost in Griffin's gaudy scoring and rebounding statistics are some pretty impressive assist numbers. The forward ranks third on the team with 2.4 assists per game this season and has registered at least one handout in all 19 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 (13.6 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 9.7 free throw attempts a game (ranks third 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 (Santa Clara's John Bryant) also has three.

• Griffin has 52 dunks on the season, good for an average of 2.7 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 8.1 points per outing but ranks among the Big 12's leaders in several other categories. Johnson leads the league (ranks sixth nationally) in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3-to-1) and ranks seventh in assists (4.5), 14th in steals (1.4) and 12th in blocked shots (1.0). No other league guard averages as many rejections.

DEFENSE, DEFENSE

• Oklahoma has held its last 12 opponents to a combined .362 field goal mark. Eight teams in those 12 games shot below .360.

• OU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.378), ranks second in blocks per game (4.8) and third in steals (8.4).

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. Senior guard Austin Johnson picked up his first career Big 12 Player of the Week honor on Monday.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories