Game Preview: OU-UTEP

Winner of six straight, Oklahoma (8-3) plays in its 34th All-College Classic when it takes on UTEP (6-2) Monday at 5:30 p.m. CST inside Oklahoma City's Ford Center.  The Sooners are coming off an 80-79 home win over Northern Colorado on Saturday, while the Miners posted a 101-41 home victory over Alcorn State the same day.

GAME SPECIFICS

Teams: Oklahoma (8-3) vs. UTEP (6-2)

Date: Monday, Dec. 21

Tip: 5:32 p.m. CST

Site: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Ford Center)

Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KMOD 97.5 FM in Tulsa; Sirius 121)

TV: ESPN2HD

Webcast: ESPN360.com

Series: OU leads 2-0

 

MONDAY'S GAME BASICS

Winner of six straight, Oklahoma (8-3) plays in its 34th All-College Classic when it takes on UTEP (6-2) Monday at 5:30 p.m. CST inside Oklahoma City's Ford Center.  The Sooners are coming off an 80-79 home win over Northern Colorado on Saturday, while the Miners posted a 101-41 home victory over Alcorn State the same day.  Monday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Bob Barry Sr. and Mike Houck announcing.  It will be televised by ESPN2 with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla calling the action.  Oklahoma State will face La Salle following OU vs.

 

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.

 

UTEP'S PROJECTED STARTERS   

F  1   Arnett Moultrie (6-11, 235, So., 12.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg) 

F  4   Derrick Caracter (6-9, 275, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) 

G  3   Randy Culpepper (6-0, 165, Jr., 17.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg)  

G  5   Julyan Stone (6-6, 200, Jr., 8.9 ppg, 5.9 apg)

G  41  Christian Polk (6-1, 190, Jr., 11.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

 

OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS     

F  24  Tiny Gallon (6-9, 290, Fr., 11.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg)

G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 209, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg)     

G  11  Tommy Mason-Griffin (5-11, 203, Fr., 10.1 ppg, 4.9 apg)

G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 203, So., 18.0 ppg, 5.0 apg)

G  34  Cade Davis (6-5, 199, Jr., 8.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

           

NOTEWORTHY

• The Sooners own a 52-12 (.813) all-time record in the All-College Classic and have won 15 of their last 16 games in the event.

• Oklahoma is averaging 8.8 3-point makes per game.  The school record for average treys per contest in a season is 8.5 in 1998-99.

• OU ranks first in the Big 12 and sixth nationally with its .781 free throw mark.  It has made more foul shots (193) than its foes have attempted (168).

• Senior guard Tony Crocker, who has started 77 consecutive games, is averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds over the last five contests.  He is 15-of-30 (.500) from behind the 3-point arc during the stretch.

• Crocker has recorded his only four career double-doubles over the last five games.  The 6-6, 209-pounder has five double-digit rebounding games over the last seven outings (his career high in rebounds entering the year was nine).

• Junior guard Cade Davis has started each of the last seven games (34.0 minutes per contest) and is averaging 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals in those outings.  He has 17 3-pointers and is 19-of-22 (.864) from the free throw line during the stretch.  Davis averaged 3.8 points over the team's first four games coming off the bench (averaged 17.8 minutes).

• Twice in the last three games, OU had a player score at least 20 points in the first half.  Crocker set a Big 12 record for points in a half with 29 in the first stanza against Centenary Dec. 9 (he made seven 3-pointers) while Davis netted 20 in the opening 20 minutes against Northern Colorado Saturday (canned six treys).

• Sophomore guard Willie Warren is averaging team highs of 18.0 points (ranks fifth in Big 12) and 5.0 assists (ranks third).  He ranks second in the conference with his 7.1 free throw attempts per game (shooting .831 from the foul line).

• Warren has scored at least 24 points in five of his 10 outings.

• Freshman forward Tiny Gallon is tied for second in the Big 12 with four double-doubles.  He is shooting a team-high .593 from the field and is averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds (ranks fifth in league).

• Freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin is 14-for-28 from 3-point distance over the last seven contests.

 

PREVIEWING UTEP

Conference USA member UTEP enters Monday's game with a 6-2 record.  The Miners, who finished 23-14 last year and advanced to the College Basketball Invitational championship series, won their first five games this season before losing to New Mexico State and Mississippi.  They bounced back with a 101-41 home victory over Alcorn State on Saturday (the 60-point triumph was the second largest in school history).  UTEP is averaging 82.9 points a game and is shooting .492 from the field, .369 from behind the arc and .635 from the free throw line.

 

Junior guard Randy Culpepper leads five Miners who average double figures in scoring.  He produces 17.6 points per contest to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists.  Culpepper leads the team with his 20 3-pointers and is shooting .339 from long range.  Sophomore forward Arnett Moultrie averages 12.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and a team-high 2.3 blocks per game.  Junior forward Derrick Caracter is a transfer from Louisville who is averaging 12.7 points (on .619 field goal shooting), 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his three games since becoming eligible.  The 6-9, 275-pounder had six points, one rebound and two assists against Oklahoma in the 2008 NCAA Tournament second round.  Another junior forward, Jeremy Williams contributes 12.6 points and 4.6 boards per game coming off the bench.  He is shooting .556 from the floor.  Christian Polk is averaging 11.8 points while fellow junior guard Julyan Stone is averaging 8.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and a team-high 5.9 assists per outing.

 

Tony Barbee is in his fourth season as a collegiate head coach, all at UTEP.  The 1993 Massachusetts graduate owns a 62-47 record (.569).

 

OU-UTEP SERIES HISTORY

The Sooners own a 2-0 record against UTEP with both victories coming at the OU Field House when the Miners went by Texas Western College.  Oklahoma posted a 76-58 win in its 1959-60 season opener and a 70-58 triumph in the first game of 1960-61. 

 

OU'S ALL-COLLEGE HISTORY

This year's All-College Classic marks the 34th such event for Oklahoma and the 27th straight.  The Sooners own a 52-12 (.813) all-time record in the All-College and have claimed 21 championships.  They have won 15 of their last 16 games in the event.  This marks the ninth year that the All-College features a "classic" or non-tournament format.  OU beat VCU (81-70) last year, bettered Gonzaga (72-68) two years ago, downed Tulsa (58-48) in 2006-07, lost to West Virginia (92-68) in 2005-06, and beat Tulsa (70-64) in 2004-05, Princeton (58-55) in 2003-04, Michigan State (60-58) in 2002-03 and Texas Southern (97-55) in 2001-02.

 

SATURDAY'S NORTHERN COLORADO RECAP

Cade Davis scored a career-high 25 points and Tony Crocker registered his fourth double-double in five games (24 points, 10 rebounds) as the Sooners withstood a 7-0 game-ending spurt to fend off Northern Colorado, 80-79, on Saturday in Norman.  Oklahoma, which led 19-12 midway through the first half, watched the Bears go on a 26-8 run to take a 38-27 lead with just under three minutes left before the break.  OU closed to within one at halftime thanks to three Davis treys in the span of a minute and a Crocker 3-point play with 16 seconds left.  The Sooners opened the second half with a 17-9 run to take a 56-49 advantage and later led 76-66 with 2:14 left.  Northern Colorado didn't go quietly, though, as OU missed three one-and-one front ends in the final 41 seconds.  Ahead 80-79 with 5.6 seconds left, Tommy Mason-Griffin missed a free throw but Davis intercepted a pass as the Bears tried to work the ball up court for a game-tying 3-pointer.  The win was OU's sixth straight while Northern Colorado fell to 9-3 overall and to 4-2 on the road.

 

MORE FROM SATURDAY'S WIN

• Cade Davis finished the game with six 3-point makes (all in the first half on seven attempts).  His 20 points in the opening 20 minutes were two more than his previous career high in a game (18 versus Nicholls State on Nov. 28).  In addition to his point total, the junior set career highs in field goals (eight), field goal attempts (13), 3-point makes and 3-point attempts (10).  He also had three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

• Tony Crocker scored 16 of his 24 points and grabbed nine of his 10 rebounds in the second half.  He was 4-for-6 from behind the arc after intermission.  Crocker also had two assists, two blocks and two steals on the afternoon.

• Northern Colorado shot an opponent-season-high .470 from the field and outrebounded OU by a 40-31 count.  The Sooners made the most of their eight offensive rebounds, however, by converting them into 18 second-chance points.

• Oklahoma's 14 makes from 3-point land were a season high, but its .632 free throw effort (12-for-19) was its second worst of the year.

• OU's win was its third in a row when trailing at halftime (40-39 vs. Northern Colorado, 42-36 at Utah and 39-37 vs. Nicholls State).

 

GUARDS SHOULDERING THE LOAD

Five of OU's top six scorers, including its top two, are guards.  The Sooners' backcourt has accounted for 659 of the team's 864 points, or 76 percent.  Three guards average double figures in scoring while two more average at least 8.8 points.  Willie Warren averages 18.0 points per outing and is followed by Tony Crocker (14.5), Tommy Mason Griffin (10.1), Steven Pledger (9.2) and Cade Davis (8.8).  Four different guards have surpassed the 20-point mark at least once this year (Warren has done it five times, Crocker and Pledger have done it twice each and Davis has done it once), while Mason-Griffin has an 18-point game to his credit.

 

FRESHMEN PLAYING LARGE ROLE

The freshman trio of Tiny Gallon (11.6 ppg), Tommy Mason-Griffin (10.1) and Steven Pledger (9.2) has combined to score 340 of the team's 864 points this year, or 39 percent.  Gallon, who is shooting .593 from the field, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in rebounds per game (9.0) and second with four double-doubles (he missed out on another by one rebound).  Mason-Griffin ranks fourth in the league with his 4.9 assists per game and ranks second on the team with his .436 3-point shooting percentage.  Among the Big 12's leaders in 3-point makes, Pledger has knocked down 23 treys on 58 attempts (.397) 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 .427 and averaging 10.4 makes from behind the arc over the last seven outings.  Senior Tony Crocker has been the main gun, going 19-for-38 (.500) over those last seven contests.  Freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin is 14-for-28 (.500), junior Cade Davis is 17-for-44 (.386) and freshman Steven Pledger is 14-for-37 (.378) during the stretch.

 

UP NEXT

Oklahoma plays at Gonzaga on Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. CT.  The game will be played at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and will be televised by ESPN2.


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