Game Preview: OU-Northern Colorado

Winner of five straight, Oklahoma (7-3) plays its last home game of 2009 when it takes on Northern Colorado (9-2) Saturday at noon CST inside Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners are coming off an 78-73 overtime road win over Utah last Saturday, while the Bears posted a 95-84 home victory over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday. 

GAME SPECIFICS

Teams: Oklahoma (7-3) vs. Northern Colorado (9-2)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 19

Tip: 12:07 p.m. CST

Site: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)

Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)

TV: Sooner Sports Network (KAUT Ch. 43, Cox 7 in OKC; KQCW Ch. 19 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court)

Webcast: SoonerSports.com

Series: OU leads 1-0

 

SATURDAY'S GAME BASICS

Winner of five straight, Oklahoma (7-3) plays its last home game of 2009 when it takes on Northern Colorado (9-2) Saturday at noon CST inside Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners are coming off an 78-73 overtime road win over Utah last Saturday, while the Bears posted a 95-84 home victory over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday.  Saturday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  It will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network with Bob Carpenter and Charlie Spoonhour calling the action.  A live video Webcast will be available on the "All-Access" portion of OU's official athletics site, SoonerSports.com.

 

TICKET INFORMATION

Reserved seats are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and on SoonerSports.com.  Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

 

PROMOTION

One thousand Lil Kinz polar bears will be given to youth at the door.

 

NORTHERN COLORADO'S PROJECTED STARTERS

F  41  Mike Proctor (6-8, 225, So., 7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg)

F  44  Taylor Montgomery (6-7, 235, Jr., 8.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg) 

G  2   Will Figures (5-9, 155, Sr., 15.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg)     

G  20  Yahosh Bonner (6-1, 215, Sr., 7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg)

G  32  Devon Beitzel (6-1, 180, Jr., 13.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg)

 

OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS     

F  24  Tiny Gallon (6-9, 290, Fr., 11.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg)

G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 209, Sr., 13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg)     

G  11  Tommy Mason-Griffin (5-11, 203, Fr., 10.3 ppg, 5.0 apg)

G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 203, So., 19.6 ppg, 5.1 apg)

G  34  Cade Davis (6-5, 199, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

           

NOTEWORTHY

• Oklahoma has won 75 of its last 77 home non-conference games, including each of its last 17.

• The Sooners rank first in the Big 12 Conference and fourth nationally with their .794 free throw percentage.  They have made more free throws (181) than their opponents have attempted (160).

• OU gave up 78.0 points over its first five contests (2-3 record) and allowed opponents to shoot .452 from the field and .366 from 3-point range.  In five games since (all wins), foes are shooting .394 from the floor and .322 from long distance.

• Sophomore guard Willie Warren is averaging team highs of 19.6 points (ranks third in Big 12) and 5.1 assists (ranks fourth).  He leads the conference with his 7.9 free throw attempts per game (shooting .831 from the foul line).

• Warren has scored at least 24 points in five of his nine outings.

• Senior guard Tony Crocker, who has started 76 consecutive games, is averaging 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds over the past five outings.  He is 14-of-29 (.483) from behind the 3-point arc during the stretch.

• Crocker has recorded his only three career double-doubles over the last four games.  In those three outings against Arkansas, Centenary and Utah, he is averaging 20.3 points and 13.0 boards while shooting .512 from the field.

• Junior guard Cade Davis has started the last six games and is averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals in those contests.  He has 11 3-pointers and is 16-of-17 (.941) from the free throw line during the stretch.  Davis averaged 3.8 points over the team's first four games coming off the bench.

• Freshman forward Tiny Gallon is tied for second in the Big 12 with four double-doubles.  He is shooting a team-high .597 from the field and is averaging 11.9 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds (ranks fourth in league).  The 6-9, 290-pounder has made three 3-pointers on four attempts over the last two games.

• Freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin is averaging 11.8 points (12-for-24 from 3-point distance) and 5.0 assists over the last six contests.

• After averaging 13.7 points over the season's first six games (19-for-40 from 3-point range), freshman guard Steven Pledger is averaging just 3.3 over the last four (2-for-13 from behind the arc).

 

PREVIEWING NORTHERN COLORADO

Big Sky Conference member Northern Colorado enters Saturday's game with a 9-2 record.  The Bears started the year with seven wins and have gone 2-2 since.  They are 4-1 in road games, with wins over Hawaii (81-75), Air Force (70-46), North Dakota (70-63) and Montana (59-48), and a loss at Montana State (87-63).  UNC is shooting .454 from the field, .382 from 3-point range (7.2 makes per game) and .721 from the free throw line.  Opponents are shooting .411 from the field and .309 from behind the arc (5.7 makes per game).

 

Senior guard Will Figures leads the team in scoring (15.6 ppg), assists (2.7 apg), free throw makes (62) and free throw percentage (.827).  The 5-9, 155-pounder has made 18 treys and is shooting .391 from long range.  He has scored at least 20 points three times this year but over the last three outings is averaging 10.0 points.  Junior guard Devon Beitzel is averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 2.4 steals per contest.  He leads the squad with his 21 treys (1.9 makes per game) and is shooting .356 from behind the arc.  Junior forward Taylor Montgomery averages 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, junior forward Chris Kaba averages 7.7 points and 3.6 boards, sophomore forward/center Mike Proctor averages 7.6 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds and senior guard Yahosh Bonner averages 7.5 points and 2.5 assists.

 

Tad Boyle is in his fourth season as a collegiate head coach, all at Northern Colorado.  The 1985 Kansas graduate owns a 40-60 record (.400).

 

OU-NORTHERN COLORADO SERIES HISTORY

Oklahoma won its only previous meeting against Northern Colorado, an 80-44 outcome on Dec. 11, 2004, in Norman.  Forward Taj Gray was 10-for-12 from the field and posted game highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Sooners, while guards Jaison Williams (four 3-pointers) and Terrell Everett (seven assists) added 14 and 13 points, respectively.  OU, which went on to share the Big 12 regular season title, shot .517 from the field while holding the Bears to a .408 mark.  Kirk Archibeque paced Northern Colorado with 15 points. 

 

SATURDAY'S UTAH RECAP

Willie Warren scored 22 of his game-high 27 points after halftime and Tony Crocker registered his third double-double in four games as Oklahoma beat Utah on the road in overtime Saturday, 78-73.  The Sooners fell behind by four to start the extra period, but outscored the Utes 11-2 the rest of the way.  The key basket was a Warren 26-footer with 1:58 remaining that took OU from a one-point deficit to a two-point lead it did not relinquish.  With his team up 76-73 in overtime, freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin stole the ball from a driving Carlon Brown with 14 seconds left and hit two free throws to ice the game.  The point guard finished with a career-high 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.  The Sooners, who trailed 42-36 at halftime but rallied for a seven-point lead midway through the second half, got the victory despite shooting just .344 from the field.  Crocker racked up 12 points and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes and did not commit a turnover. 

 

MORE FROM SATURDAY'S WIN

• In addition to his 27 points, Willie Warren, who did not score until the 5:32 mark of the first half, had a career-high eight rebounds and four assists.  He was 11-for-12 from the free throw line.

• OU jumped out to a 14-3 lead with the help of two 3-pointers by freshman forward Tiny Gallon in the game's first 1:18.  Gallon, who played only 10 minutes on the day, fouled out with 3:32 left in regulation (finished with nine points and three rebounds).

• The Sooners posted a 47-45 rebound advantage using a four-guard lineup the majority of the game against a Utah team that featured a pair of 7-footers (David Foster and Jason Washburn) and a 6-11 forward (Kim Tillie).

Ryan Wright played a career-high 34 minutes in place of Gallon and had three points, seven rebounds and three steals.

• Cade Davis made his first three free throw attempts of the game to run his streak of conversions to 19 before missing one with 54 seconds left in regulation.  He finished 4-for-5 at the charity stripe.

• Utah's 13 blocked shots were the most by an OU opponent since Connecticut recorded 13 rejections Jan. 7, 2002 (a span of 262 games).

• Oklahoma improved to 4-0 in overtime games under head coach Jeff Capel.

 

HOME NON-CONFERENCE DOMINATION

The Sooners have dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 75 of their last 77 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .974 winning percentage).  Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova on Dec. 6, 2006.  The current string stands at 17 wins.

 

GUARDS SHOULDERING THE LOAD

Five of OU's top six scorers, including its top two, are guards.  The Sooners' backcourt has accounted for 592 of the team's 784 points, or 76 percent.  Three guards average double figures in scoring while another averages 9.4 points (Willie Warren – 19.6 ppg; Tony Crocker – 13.5; Tommy Mason Griffin – 10.3; Steven Pledger – 9.5).  Warren has surpassed 20 points five times this year, Pledger has done it twice and Crocker once.

 

FRESHMEN PLAYING LARGE ROLE

The freshman trio of Tiny Gallon (11.9 ppg), Tommy Mason-Griffin (10.3) and Steven Pledger (9.5) has combined to score 317 of the team's 784 points this year, or 40 percent.  Gallon, who is shooting .597 from the field, ranks fourth in the Big 12 in rebounds per game (9.4) and second with four double-doubles (he missed out on another by one rebound).  Mason-Griffin ranks fifth in the league with his 5.0 assists per game and ranks second on the team with his .429 3-point shooting percentage.  Among the Big 12's leaders in 3-point makes, Pledger has knocked down 21 treys on 53 attempts (.396) and has two games of more than 20 points.  Another freshman, forward Andrew Fitzgerald is averaging 3.3 points in 10.2 minutes per game.  He is shooting .455 from the field and is 10-for-13 from the free throw line (.769).

 

HEATING UP FROM OUTSIDE

After shooting .286 from 3-point range and averaging 6.0 treys through its first four games, OU is shooting .415 and averaging 9.8 makes from behind the arc over the last six outings.  Senior Tony Crocker has been the main gun, going 15-for-31 (.484) over those last six contests.  Freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin is 12-for-24 (.500), freshman Steven Pledger is 12-for-32 (.375), and junior Cade Davis is 11-for-34 (.324) over the same six games.

 

UP NEXT

OU has a quick turnaround in preparation for Monday's 5:30 p.m. CST game against UTEP in the All-College Classic.  The game, which will be played at the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City, will be televised by ESPN2.  The Sooners hold a 2-0 series lead against the Miners.  Oklahoma State will play La Salle following the OU-UTEP matchup.


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