OU-Gonzaga: Preview

In the only previous meeting between the two schools, Oklahoma dealt 18th-ranked Gonzaga a 72-68 loss two seasons ago (Dec. 20, 2007) in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City. The Sooners overcame .257 first-half field goal shooting by netting 48 points and shooting .654 after intermission to post the win.

GAME SPECIFICS

Teams: Oklahoma (8-4) vs. No. 22 Gonzaga (9-3)

Date: Thursday, Dec. 31

Tip: 9:05 p.m. CST

Site: Spokane, Wash. (Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena)

Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KMOD 97.5 FM in Tulsa; Sirius 125; XM 102)

TV: ESPN2

Webcast: ESPN360.com

Series: OU leads 1-0

 

THURSDAY'S GAME BASICS

Playing its first game in 10 days, Oklahoma (8-4) travels to Spokane, Wash., to meet Gonzaga (9-3) Thursday at 9 p.m. CST inside the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.  The Sooners haven't played since a Dec. 21 89-74 loss to UTEP in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.  The Bulldogs, ranked No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, are coming off a 94-52 home win over Eastern Washington on Monday.  Thursday's contest, labeled the Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic, will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Chris Plank and Mike Houck announcing.  It will be televised by ESPN2 with Brian Anderson and Stephen Bardo calling the action.

 

OKLAHOMA'S PROJECTED STARTERS

F  24  Tiny Gallon (6-9, 290, Fr., 11.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg)

G  5   Tony Crocker (6-6, 209, Sr., 14.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg)

G  11  Tommy Mason-Griffin (5-11, 203, Fr., 10.9 ppg, 4.6 apg)

G  13  Willie Warren (6-4, 203, So., 18.7 ppg, 4.9 apg)

G  34  Cade Davis (6-5, 199, Jr., 8.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

 

GONZAGA'S PROJECTED STARTERS

F  20  Elias Harris (6-8, 215, Fr., 13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

C  00  Robert Sacre (7-0, 247, So., 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

G  3   Demetri Goodson (5-11, 164, So., 7.7 ppg, 1.3 apg)

G  15  Matt Bouldin (6-5, 224, Sr., 15.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg)

G  32  Steven Gray (6-5, 208, Jr., 12.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg)

 

NOTEWORTHY

• Thursday's game will mark just the second meeting between Oklahoma and Gonzaga.  The Sooners beat the Bulldogs 72-68 on Dec. 20, 2007, in Oklahoma City in the All-College Classic.

• The game will mark OU's first in the state of Washington since March 20, 1987, when the Sooners lost 93-91 in overtime to Iowa in the Sweet 16 in Seattle.

• In its wins, Oklahoma is shooting .469 from the field and .416 from 3-point distance.  In its four losses, OU is shooting .423 and .294, respectively.

• 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 second in the Big 12 and ninth nationally with its .772 free throw mark.  It has made more foul shots (206) than its foes have attempted (187).

• Senior guard Tony Crocker, who has started 78 consecutive games, is averaging 18.0 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last six contests.  He is 15-of-33 (.455) from behind the 3-point arc during the stretch.

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

• OU has had a player score at least 20 points in a half three times in the last four games.  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), Cade Davis netted 20 in the opening 20 minutes against Northern Colorado Dec. 19 (canned six treys) and Tommy Mason-Griffin scored 20 in the second half against UTEP Dec. 21 (four 3-point makes).

• Sophomore guard Willie Warren has scored at least 24 points in six of his 11 outings.

• Mason-Griffin is 18-for-37 (.486) from 3-point range over the last eight games.  He's made at least two treys in all but one of those games.


PREVIEWING GONZAGA

West Coast Conference member Gonzaga improved to 9-3 on the year after knocking off Eastern Washington on Monday by a 94-52 score.  The game was the first for the Bulldogs since a 76-41 loss to Duke on Dec. 19 in New York City.  Gonzaga is ranked No. 22 in this week's ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and is 26th in the AP version.  The Bulldogs' other two losses came by a combined six points at Michigan State (75-71) and at home to Wake Forest (77-75).  Gonzaga beat Colorado, Wisconsin and Cincinnati to claim the EA Sports Maui Invitational title in November.  GU is shooting .476 from the field and .371 from behind the arc while limiting opponents to respective .392 and .324 marks.

 

Senior guard Matt Bouldin, who was named to the John R. Wooden Award preseason watch list, leads four Bulldogs who average double figures in points.  Bouldin provides 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and a team-high 3.5 assists per game while shooting .400 from 3-point range (22-for-55) and .852 from the free throw line.  Over his last three games, he is averaging 6.3 points in 21.7 minutes per outing.  Freshman forward Elias Harris, from Speyer, Germany, is averaging 13.3 points on .554 field goal shooting and leads the squad with his 6.8 boards a contest.  He has scored at least 22 points three times in the last six games.  Junior guard Steven Gray has made 21 3-pointers (shooting .382) and is averaging 12.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists.  Robert Sacre, a 7-0, 247-pound sophomore center, supplies 11.8 points, 5.3 boards and 1.3 blocks per contest.  Sacre is shooting .533 from the floor.

 

Mark Few is in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, all at Gonzaga.  The 1987 Oregon graduate owns a 273-69 record (.798) and entered the season as one of just two active coaches with a career winning percentage above .800 (North Carolina's Roy Williams was the other).  Few led the Bulldogs to a 28-6 record last year and an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance (the program's fourth under him).

 

OU-GONZAGA SERIES HISTORY

In the only previous meeting between the two schools, Oklahoma dealt 18th-ranked Gonzaga a 72-68 loss two seasons ago (Dec. 20, 2007) in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.  The Sooners overcame .257 first-half field goal shooting by netting 48 points and shooting .654 after intermission to post the win.  Jeremy Pargo scored 12 straight Gonzaga points to give his team a 66-63 lead with 2:41 left, but the guard missed his last three attempts, including a potential game-tying 3-pointer that was blocked by Austin Johnson with six seconds remaining.  The frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin (15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds) and Longar Longar (16 points) led the way for OU while guard Tony Crocker hit three treys and contributed 15 points and six boards.  Pargo, who led all scorers with 28 points, was the only Bulldog in double figures.  Current Gonzaga guard Matt Bouldin had five points and three assists.

 

DEC. 21 UTEP RECAP

• UTEP shot Oklahoma opponent season highs of .579 from the field and .625 (10-for-16) from 3-point range in an 89-74 win over the Sooners Dec. 21 in Oklahoma City.  The Miners held OU to respective .426 and .281 shooting marks, and posted a 36-30 rebounding edge.

• With the score tied at 20 midway through the first half, UTEP finished the first period on a 27-10 run to take a 47-30 lead at the break.  The Miners went 8-for-11 from 3-point range over the first half's final 10 minutes.

• The Sooners outscored UTEP 44-42 in the second half but never drew closer than 10 points after intermission.

• Tommy Mason-Griffin sank a career-high four 3-pointers on nine tries and finished with a career-high 20 points, all in the second half.  The freshman became the fifth Sooner (all guards) to score at least 20 points in a game this year, and the third Sooner in the last four games to score at least 20 points in a half.

• Willie Warren led OU with 26 points and four assists.  He made three 3-pointers on 10 attempts.

• Tony Crocker (10 points, eight rebounds) finished two boards shy of recording his fifth double-double in the last six games.

• All five UTEP starters scored in double figures.  Guard Randy Culpepper led the way with a season-high 27 points.

• The loss for Oklahoma was just its second in its last 17 All-College Classic games.  The Sooners fell to 52-13 in the event.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINS AND LOSSES

• In their wins, the Sooners are holding opponents to .417 field goal and .333 3-point shooting.  In OU's losses, foes have shot .485 from the field and .433 from behind the arc.

• Similarly, OU is shooting .469 from the field and .416 from 3-point territory in wins, but just .423 and .294, respectively, in defeats.

• The Sooners have outrebounded their opponents by 3.5 per game in wins but have been outboarded by an average of 3.3 in losses.

• Tony Crocker is averaging 16.1 points (.487 from 3-point range) and 8.0 boards in wins compared to 10.0 points (.286 from deep) and 6.8 boards in losses.  All four of his double-doubles have come in victories.

• Willie Warren is averaging 22.3 points in losses and 16.7 points in victories.  He is 27-for-29 (.931) from the foul line in defeats.

 

GUARDS SHOULDERING THE LOAD

Five of OU's top six scorers, including its top two, are guards.  The Sooners' backcourt has accounted for 718 of the team's 938 points, or 77 percent.  Three guards average double figures in scoring while two more average at least 8.3 points.  Willie Warren averages 18.7 points per outing and is followed by Tony Crocker (14.1), Tommy Mason Griffin (10.9), Steven Pledger (8.4) and Cade Davis (8.3).  All five of those guards have surpassed the 20-point mark at least once this year (Warren has done it six times, Crocker and Pledger have done it twice each and Davis and Mason-Griffin have done it once each).

 

YOUTH MOVEMENT

The freshman trio of Tiny Gallon (11.8 ppg), Tommy Mason-Griffin (10.9) and Steven Pledger (8.4) has combined to score 373 of the team's 938 points this year, or 40 percent.  Gallon, who is shooting .578 from the field, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in rebounds per game (8.9) and fourth with four double-doubles (he missed out on another by one rebound).  Mason-Griffin ranks fifth in the league with his 4.6 assists per game and with his .438 3-point shooting percentage.  Among the Big 12's leaders in 3-point makes, Pledger has knocked down a team-leading 23 treys on 61 attempts (.377) 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 .404 and averaging 10.3 makes from behind the arc over the last eight outings.  Senior Tony Crocker and freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin have been the main guns during the stretch, going 19-for-41 (.463) and 18-for-37 (.486), respectively.  Junior Cade Davis is 18-for-49 (.367) and freshman Steven Pledger is 14-for-40 (.350) in those eight games.

 

UP NEXT

Oklahoma returns to Norman for its final regular season non-conference game Monday against Maryland Eastern Shore (7 p.m. CST).


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