OU-SD: Game Preview

This marks Oklahoma's third trip to the Great Alaska Shootout. It owns a 4-2 record with third-place finishes in 1983-84 and 2004-05. OU also won the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1999-00 (went 3-0).

Ranked No. 25 in the AP poll, Oklahoma (2-1) is in Anchorage, Alaska, this week for the six-team Great Alaska Shootout. The Sooners, who will play three games, open Wednesday against San Diego (2-1) at 9:45 p.m. AST (Thursday at 12:45 a.m. CST). The contest, to be played at Sullivan Arena, will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in OKC; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Ryan Ruocco and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised in Oklahoma City on Cox Cable 7 and in Tulsa on Cox Cable 3. It will also be shown on DirecTV (Ch. 640) and Dish Network (Ch. 432).

OU Projected Starters:
 1 Ryan Wright (6-9, 241,Sr.)
24 Tiny Gallon  (6-9, 290, Fr.)
 5 Tony Crocker (6-6, 209, Sr.)   
11 Tommy Mason-Griffin (5-11, 203, Fr.)
13 Willie Warren (6-4, 203, So.)

San Diego Projected Starters:
12 Chris Lewis (6-7, 215, Sr.) - 9.7 ppg
44 Roberto Mafra (6-9, 235, Sr.) - 9.0 ppg
 1 Brandon Johnson (6-0, 200, Sr.) - 14.0 ppg
20 Matt Dorr (6-4, 200, Jr.) - 6.0 ppg
23 De'Ron Jackson (6-2, 200, Sr.) - 17.7 ppg

• This marks Oklahoma's third trip to the Great Alaska Shootout. It owns a 4-2 record with third-place finishes in 1983-84 and 2004-05. OU also won the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1999-00 (went 3-0).
• Sophomore guard Willie Warren is averaging team highs of 15.7 points and 6.7 assists through three games. He has scored 27 points from the field and 20 from the free throw line (averaging 7.7 free throw attempts).
• Warren, who set an OU freshman record last year with 67 3-point makes and shot .372 from behind the arc, has started the season 1-for-15 from long range. Last year, he missed his first 10 attempts.
• Freshman forward Tiny Gallon is averaging a double-double (12.0 points and 12.0 rebounds). His 15 boards in the season opener were the most in an OU freshman debut since Alvan Adams grabbed 28 caroms in the 1972-73 opener. Gallon has pulled down double-digit rebounds in all three contests and has two double-doubles.
• Freshman guard Steven Pledger has come off the bench to average 13.3 points in 20.7 minutes a contest. He is 8-for-20 from long distance (.400). The Chesapeake, Va., product netted 21 points in 19 minutes in OU's opener against Mount St. Mary's (he was 4-for-5 from long range).
• The Sooners have made 32 more free throws than their opponents on the young season. OU is 65-for-79 (.823) from the foul line while foes are 33-for-44 (.750).
• Guards have accounted for 170 of Oklahoma's 236 points (72 percent).
• The freshman foursome of Pledger (40), Gallon (36), Tommy Mason-Griffin (30) and Andrew Fitzgerald (16) have scored 52 percent of OU's points (122 of 236).
• After draining 13-of-23 (.565) 3-point attempts in its exhibition game against British Columbia Nov. 3, OU has gone just 17-for-59 (.288) from long distance in its three regular season contests.

West Coast Conference member San Diego, which finished 16-16 overall last year and went 6-8 in league play, is off to a 2-1 start this season. The Toreros beat Stanford (77-64) and Point Loma (84-65) at home and lost to Pacific (56-55) on the road. The team's top four scorers are seniors.

Guards De'Jon Jackson and Brandon Johnson both average double figures in scoring. Jackson is averaging 17.7 points a contest thanks to .515 field goal and .538 (7-for-13) 3-point field goal shooting. He also contributes 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. Johnson, a fifth-year senior who was granted a medical hardship following last year's ruptured Achilles' tendon, is averaging 14.0 points over his two games (he did not play against Point Loma Nov. 18). Senior forward Chris Lewis (.632 FG%) is averaging 9.7 points and a team-high 5.7 boards while center Roberto Mafra (.579 FG%) supplies 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds an outing.

USD is coached by Bill Grier, a 1990 Oregon graduate who is 40-31 (.563) in his third year with the Toreros. The former top assistant at Gonzaga led San Diego to a 22-14 record and a first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Connecticut two years ago.

Oklahoma won its only previous meeting with San Diego, a 68-61 outcome in OU's fourth outing of the 1999-00 season. The game was a Sooner Invitational first-round matchup played in Norman.

This marks OU's third appearance in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Sooners went 2-1 in both the 1983 and 2004 events, finishing in third place on each occasion. Under head coach Billy Tubbs in 1983, Oklahoma beat USC (92-91), lost to Arkansas (84-78) and beat Santa Clara (91-77). Under head coach Kelvin Sampson in 2004, OU downed High Point (93-65), lost to Washington (96-91) and defeated Minnesota (67-54). Both OU squads went on to win the regular season conference title (Big Eight in 1983-84 and Big 12 in 2004-05).This year's event marks the second for current OU head coach Jeff Capel. As a player, Capel helped Duke to the 1995 Great Alaska Shootout title his junior season. The Blue Devils beat Iowa, 88-81, in the championship game and Capel was named to the all-tourney team. Duke's first-round matchup that year was against Old Dominion, a team coached by Capel's father (also Jeff Capel). The Blue Devils won 75-55.

Joining Oklahoma and San Diego in Pool B this week are the Houston Cougars, OU's Thursday opponent at 7:30 p.m. AST (10:30 p.m. CST). Houston enters the tournament with a 1-1 record (it beat Nicholls State 92-60 at home before losing to Nevada 112-99 on the road). Comprising Pool A are Alaska Anchorage (1-1), Nicholls State (0-5) and Washington State (3-0). OU will play a team from Pool A on Saturday at a to-be-determined time.

Jeff Capel's return to Richmond, Va., was not a pleasant one as VCU handed the Sooners their first defeat of the season Saturday, 82-69. Capel, who coached the Rams for four seasons before taking over at OU, watched VCU go crazy from 3-point range in the first half while his team struggled to make shots. The Rams made seven first-half treys, including six in a row during a span of 6:20, to lead 44-34 at halftime (their largest lead was 17 points). OU preseason All-American Willie Warren had a poor shooting night, going 3-for-14 from the field and 0-for-8 from 3-point distance. The sophomore was held to eight points, though he did rack up five assists. Tony Crocker paced the Sooners with 19 points and added six rebounds, while Tiny Gallon recorded his second double-double in three games with 15 points and a game-high 11 boards. Tommy Mason-Griffin scored 10 points and registered career highs of seven points and six assists. VCU guard Jay Gavin hit four of his eight 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 20 points, while forward Larry Sanders finished with 17 points, four assists and three blocks on his 21st birthday.

• Oklahoma never led in the contest. VCU led by at least 10 points the entire second half.
• Playing in his home state, freshman Steven Pledger came off the bench to register 11 points and the first three assists of his career. He also added three steals without committing a turnover.
• OU outrebounded VCU 38-35 but committed four more turnovers (15-11).
• The Sooners finished the game 5-for-26 (.192) from 3-point range.
• Oklahoma was the first ranked opponent (No. 17) that VCU hosted in 17 seasons.

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