Date: Saturday, Dec. 12
Tip: 3 p.m. CST
Site: Salt Lake City, Utah (Jon M. Huntsman Center)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KMOD 97.5 FM in Tulsa)
Series: OU leads 2-1
SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS
Winner of four straight, Oklahoma (6-3) travels to Salt Lake City to take on Utah (5-4) Saturday at 3 p.m. CST inside the 15,000-seat Jon M. Huntsman Center. The Sooners are coming off an 86-62 win over Centenary on Wednesday, while the Utes, who have won two in a row, defeated Michigan at home the same night, 68-52. Saturday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing. It will be televised by Versus with Ted Robinson and Roland Williams calling the action.
OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Tiny Gallon (6-9, 290, Fr., 12.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-6, 209, Sr., 13.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
G 11 Tommy Mason-Griffin (5-11, 203, Fr., 9.4 ppg, 5.2 apg)
G 13 Willie Warren (6-4, 203, So., 18.6 ppg, 5.3 apg)
G 34 Cade Davis (6-5, 199, Jr., 7.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
UTAH'S PROJECTED STARTERS
F 14 Kim Tillie (6-10, 215, Sr., 9.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
C 51 David Foster (7-3, 255, So., 6.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
G 3 Marshall Henderson (6-2, 175, Fr., 10.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
G 5 Luka Drca (6-5, 205, Sr., 9.1 ppg, 4.3 apg)
G 15 Carlon Brown (6-5, 205, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
• Oklahoma, which went 8-3 in true road games last year, lost its only such contest this year (82-69 at VCU on Nov. 21).
• OU improved to 2-1 against Utah after last year's 70-52 win in Norman.
• The Sooners rank first in the Big 12 Conference and fourth nationally with their .799 free throw percentage. They have made more free throws (155) than their opponents have attempted (138).
• Sophomore guard Willie Warren is averaging team highs of 18.6 points (ranks fourth in Big 12) and 5.3 assists (ranks third). He also ranks second in the league with his 7.4 free throw attempts per game (shooting .814 from the foul line).
• Warren has scored at least 24 points in four of his eight outings.
• Senior guard Tony Crocker is averaging 19.0 points and 9.3 rebounds over the past four games. He's 13-of-25 (.520) from 3-point range during the stretch.
• Crocker is coming off a career-high 33-point game against Centenary in which he set a Big 12 record for points in a half (29 in first) and tied the league mark for 3-pointers in a half (seven). He also grabbed 13 rebounds for his second double-double in the last three games (the only double-doubles of his career). He had 16 points and 16 boards Dec. 2 vs. Arkansas.
• Junior guard Cade Davis has started the last five games and is averaging 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in those contests. He has 10 3-pointers and is 12-of-12 from the free throw line during the stretch. Davis, who averaged 3.8 points over the team's first four games coming off the bench, has made his last 16 free throw attempts and is 17-of-18 on the year (.944).
• Freshman forward Tiny Gallon is one of three Big 12 players averaging a double-double (12.2 points and 10.1 rebounds). His 10.1 boards per outing rank second in the Big 12. He has grabbed 15 rebounds twice.
• Freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin is averaging 10.6 points (10-for-20 from 3-point distance) and 5.4 assists over the last five contests.
• Freshman guard Steven Pledger is averaging 10.6 points a game. He's made a team-high 21 treys (shooting .404) and has hit at least four 3-pointers in three different outings.
• Guards have accounted for 526 of Oklahoma's 706 points (75 percent).
• The freshman trio of Gallon (110), Pledger (95) and Mason-Griffin (85) has scored 41 percent of OU's points.
Mountain West Conference member Utah has won two games in a row to improve to 5-4 on the season. It is coming off a 68-52 home win over Michigan on Wednesday, a game in which the Utes outshot (.509-.340) and outrebounded (41-25) the Wolverines. Utah's other wins have come at home over Utah State (68-67), Southern (88-48) and Idaho State (68-56), and against Illinois in Las Vegas, Nev. (60-58). Its losses have come to Idaho (94-87 at home), Seattle (77-74 at home), Oklahoma State (77-55 in Las Vegas) and Weber State (83-76 on the road). The Utes lost their top four scorers from last year's 24-10 squad that won the MWC regular season and tournament titles and was an NCA Tournament No. 5 seed (the foursome accounted for 69 percent of the team's points).
Junior guard Carlon Brown leads Utah with his 12.7 scoring average and also pulls down 5.7 rebounds a game. He has two 22-point games to his credit. Freshman guard Marshall Henderson is averaging 10.7 points a game with the help of his 2.2 treys per contest. He has 20 3-point makes on the year (twice as many as the closest teammate) and is shooting .339 from behind the arc. Henderson scored a team-high 22 points against Michigan (4-for-11 from deep). Senior forward Kim Tillie supplies 9.6 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds a game, while junior forward Jay Watkins provides 9.4 points (.556 field goal shooting) and 5.0 boards per outing. Senior point guard Luka Drca is averaging 9.1 points and a team-high 4.3 assists.
Jim Boylen is in his third season as Utah's head coach and owns a 47-29 (.618) record. A 1987 Maine graduate, Boylen twice served as a Michigan State assistant coach (1989-92 and 2005-07). In between, he was a 13-year NBA assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks.
OU-UTAH SERIES HISTORY
Saturday's game will mark the fourth meeting between OU and Utah, with the Sooners holding a 2-1 series edge. OU won the first matchup, 69-68, on Dec. 14, 1979, in the Golden Gate Classic in San Francisco, Calif. Aaron Curry paced Oklahoma with 18 points while Utah was led by Karl Bankowski and Tom Chambers (20 points each). The Utes won the second meeting, a 67-58 second-round NCAA Tournament game on March 19, 2006, in Tucson, Ariz. Taj Gray registered 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Sooners while Justin Hawkins finished with 20 points and 14 boards to lead Utah. The Utes shot .595 from the field while OU shot .318.
Last year in Norman, eventual national player of the year Blake Griffin was held without a field goal, but still managed a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) to help the Sooners to a 70-52 home win on Dec. 13. All five OU starters scored in double figures for the first time in four seasons and the Sooners overcame .388 field goal shooting by holding the Utes to a .340 figure. Oklahoma also made twice as many free throws (26-for-30 compared to 13-for-17). Griffin, who battled foul trouble, was 0-for-3 from the field in his 23 minutes. Ryan Wright spelled him off the bench and provided six points and six boards in 18 minutes of action. OU held Utah center Luke Nevill to 10 points and four rebounds (he entered the game averaging 18.1 and 8.5).
WEDNESDAY'S CENTENARY RECAP
Tony Crocker put on one of the best first-half displays in school history, lifting the Sooners to an 86-82 home win over Centenary on Wednesday. Crocker made seven 3-pointers and scored 29 points in the opening 20 minutes — both Big 12 Conference records for a half — as well as 10 rebounds to give OU a 47-25 lead at intermission. The senior guard, who scored 13 points before Centenary scored one, netted Oklahoma's first 16 points. He made seven treys and reached the 25-point mark in the game's first 11 minutes. Crocker finished the contest with a career-high 33 points, 13 rebounds (second highest career total), a career-high three blocked shots and two steals. He was 11-for-19 from the field, 7-for-12 from 3-point range and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Freshman forward Tiny Gallon also notched a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Like Crocker, he blocked a career-high three shots. The Sooners outrebounded the Gents, 49-33, and held them to .371 field goal shooting.
MORE FROM WEDNESDAY'S WIN
• Tony Crocker scored more points in the first half (29) than Centenary did (25).
• Crocker went 5-for-5 from the field in the game's first 3:40, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
• When he had 25 points 11 minutes into the game, Crocker was on pace for a 91-point night.
• Crocker's 33 points were the most by a Big 12 player this season.
• Tommy Mason-Griffin handed out a career-high seven assists, all in the first half.
FRESHMEN PLAYING LARGE ROLE
The freshman trio of Tiny Gallon (12.2 ppg), Steven Pledger (10.6) and Tommy Mason-Griffin (9.4) has combined to score 290 of the team's 706 points this year, or 41 percent. Gallon, who is shooting .606 from the field, ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounds per game and with four double-doubles (he missed out on another by one rebound). Among the Big 12's leaders in 3-point makes, Pledger has knocked down 21 treys on 52 attempts (.404) and has two games of more than 20 points. Mason-Griffin ranks fourth in the league with his 5.2 assists per game and ranks second the team with his .419 3-point shooting percentage. Another freshman, forward Andrew Fitzgerald, is averaging 3.8 points in 11.1 minutes per game. He is shooting .500 from the field and is 10-for-13 from the free throw line (.769).
GUARDS SHOULDERING THE LOAD
Five of OU's top six scorers, including its top two, are guards. The Sooners' backcourt has accounted for 526 of the team's 706 points, or 75 percent. Three guards average double figures in scoring while another averages 9.4 points (Willie Warren – 18.6 ppg; Tony Crocker – 13.7; Steven Pledger – 10.6; Tommy Mason-Griffin – 9.4). Warren has surpassed 20 points four times this year, Pledger has done it twice and Crocker once.
HEATING UP FROM OUTSIDE
After shooting .286 from 3-point range and averaging 6.0 treys through its first four games, OU is shooting .418 and averaging 10.2 makes from behind the arc over the last five outings. Senior Tony Crocker has been the main gun, going 14-for-27 (.519) over those last five contests. Freshman Steven Pledger is 12-for-31 (.387), freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin is 10-for-20 (.500) and junior Cade Davis is 10-for-30 (.333) over the same five games.
CROCKER CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Senior guard Tony Crocker entered the year ranked 34th in school history in points (1,008) and seventh in 3-point makes (158). With a strong start to the season, the 6-6 San Antonio, Texas, product has vaulted to the No. 27 spot in points (1,031) and the No. 4 spot in 3-pointers (176). Crocker, who has started OU's last 75 games, needs 22 points to tie Willie Rogers (1966-68) for 26th on OU's career scoring list, and 42 points to tie Brent Price (1991-92) for 25th. At his current pace of 13.7 points per game, Crocker would finish the regular season ranked 13th on the Sooners' all-time scoring chart. Crocker's next target on the career 3-point makes list is Tim Heskett (1997-01). He needs 39 makes to tie Heskett for third on that list.
Crocker also has a chance to make a run at the top spot on OU's games played list. He entered the year with 102 career appearances and would finish the regular season with 132 if he plays in every regular season game this year. Depending on the Sooners' postseason fortunes, Crocker could challenge the record of 137 career games played by Darryl "Choo" Kennedy (1984-87).
OU has a week off before returning home to play Northern Colorado on Saturday, Dec. 19, at noon CST (televised by the Sooner Sports Network). The Sooners won the only previous meeting, 80-44, on Dec. 11, 2004, in Norman.