One game out of first place in the Big 12 race, Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4) goes for a regular season sweep of No. 17/16 Oklahoma State (18-5, 8-3) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. CT in Stillwater. The Sooners, winners of two straight, are coming off a 75-48 home victory over TCU on Monday and are 2-3 in conference road games. OSU, which has won six straight and is tied for first place with Kansas and Kansas State, posted a 91-67 triumph at Texas Tech on Wednesday. The Cowboys are 5-0 in Big 12 home games.
OU's Steven Pledger (photo courtesy OU Sports Information)
ON THE AIR
Saturday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised regionally by the Big 12 Network (KOCB Ch. 34 in OKC; KMYT Ch. 41 in Tulsa; ESPN Full Court) with Dave Armstrong and Bryndon Manzer calling the action.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
* Oklahoma has won 11 of the last 17 overall meetings with Oklahoma State and holds a 129-94 all-time series advantage. The Sooners have won three of the last seven Bedlam matchups played in Stillwater (posted regular season sweeps in 2006, 2008 and 2009).
* OU never trailed in a 77-68 win over OSU on Jan. 12, the Sooners' ninth straight home victory in the series. OU shot a season-high .615 from 3-point range (8-for-13) and recorded a .905 mark at the free throw line (19-for-21). Romero Osby led four Sooners in double figures with 17 points and was followed by Buddy Hield (15), Amath M'Baye (15) and Steven Pledger (11).
* Oklahoma has already won more games away from home this year (7-5 record) than it did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). Its seven wins away from home are tied with Kansas for the most by a Big 12 team. OU is 4-4 in true road games this season (2-3 in Big 12 play).
* In Big 12 play, opponents have made 77 3-pointers to the Sooners' 44. That's a difference of 99 points, or 9.0 per game. In five conference road games, opponents have made 45 treys to OU's 18 (difference of 16.2 points per game).
* Hield sustained a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the second half of OU's win over TCU on Monday and underwent successful surgery on Tuesday. The freshman guard is expected to be out four to six weeks. A starter the last 13 games, Hield is averaging 8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game on the season to rank fourth, third and second on the team, respectively. His 610 minutes (26.5 per game) are most on the squad. In OU's Jan. 12 win over Oklahoma State, Hield finished with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. He made a career-high three 3-pointers on five attempts.
OU's Sam Groom (Photo courtesy OU Sports Information)
* As of Thursday, Oklahoma is ranked 20th out of 347 Division I teams in the CBSSports.com RPI (second best in Big 12 behind No. 7 Kansas), with a strength of schedule ranked No. 9. OU was projected on Monday by USA Today as a No. 7 NCAA Tournament seed and by CBSSports.com as a No. 8 seed.
* With 16 wins, OU has already surpassed its victory total from each of the last three years. The Sooners won 13 games in 2009-10, 14 in 2010-11 and 15 last season. OU's seven Big 12 wins are also its most since 2009 (won four in 2010 and five each of the last two years).
* Four of the Sooners' seven losses have come to teams ranked in last week's AP top-25 (No. 5 Gonzaga, No. 10 Kansas State [twice] and No. 14 Kansas own a combined 63-11 record). Two other defeats came by a combined four points. OU lost by three at Arkansas (led with 15 seconds remaining) and by one to Stephen F. Austin (the Lumberjacks are 21-2 and lead the nation in scoring defense).
* Oklahoma is 8-3 this year in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
* OU ranks second in the Big 12 with its .738 season free throw shooting mark and owns the league's top three free throw performances of the year (1.000 vs. TCU, .947 vs. Texas A&M and .938 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi).
* In their six Big 12 home games, the Sooners are shooting .831 from the free throw line and outscoring their opponents by 6.3 points a game there. In five league road games, they are shooting .608 and are being outscored by an average of 3.4 points at the stripe.
* In its Big 12 home games, OU is giving up 5.3 3-pointers per game. That's considerably fewer than the 9.0 makes the team is surrendering per league road game. The Sooners have been outscored 135-54 from behind the arc in their five Big 12 road contests.
* In its four Big 12 losses, OU is getting outscored by 15.7 points per game from behind the arc (33 makes for opponents to OU's 12).
* In conference wins, Romero Osby and Amath M'Baye are averaging a combined 29.6 points and shooting .575 from the field. In conference losses, they are averaging a combined 20.5 points and are shooting .360.
* OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its point production from last season, but in Big 12 play this year newcomers have accounted for 41 percent of OU's points (306 of 747). Three starters from last year (Cameron Clark, Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms have come off the bench in all but two of their combined 68 games this season).
* Senior forward Romero Osby leads OU in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (6.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (.507) in just 26.4 minutes a contest. Projected to 40 minutes, he is averaging 20.9 points and 10.0 boards. He ranks seventh in the Big 12 (league play only) with his 15.1 points per game, ninth with his 6.9 caroms per contest and fifth with his .508 field goal mark. Osby has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 13 of the last 16 games and is also shooting .835 from the free throw line (71-for-85) in those 16 outings (made 36 in a row which fell one shy of school record). He has led the team (or tied for the team lead) in scoring in eight of its 11 conference outings, including a career-high 29-point effort against Texas on Jan. 21. He has started 53 of OU's 54 games the last two years since transferring from Mississippi State.
* Senior guard Steven Pledger ranks second on the team by averaging 10.6 points in 26.5 minutes a game. His scoring production has been inconsistent the last two weeks, as he registered a season-high 20 points in a win at Baylor on Jan. 30, totaled seven points over the next two games (both losses), netted 15 points in Saturday's win over Kansas and scored four in Monday's win over TCU. Pledger ranks seventh in the conference with his 1.8 treys per contest and 11th with his .336 3-point percentage. The league's leading returning scorer from last year (16.2 ppg), he has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 16 outings. He ranks third in school history with 220 3-point makes and is in 19th place on OU's all-time scoring chart with 1,265 points. Pledger has started each of his last 55 games.
* Preseason Big 12 Rookie of the Year Amath M'Baye is a two-time league rookie of the week (Nov. 26 and Dec. 31). Over the last 13 games (nine wins), he is averaging 11.8 points (on .500 field goal shooting) and 5.1 rebounds. The junior forward, who is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds on the year (24.6 minutes per game) to rank third and second on the team, respectively, scored a season-high 20 points Jan. 30 at Baylor but has scored more than eight just once in the last four games (averaging 8.8 in those four).
* Freshman guard Isaiah Cousins made his first start since Dec. 18 last Saturday against Kansas and responded with seven points, four boards and a team-high four assists in a season-high-tying 26 minutes. After totaling 20 points over a 12-game stretch (1.7 average), Cousins has 29 points over the last four contests (7.3 average) on 11-for-20 (.550) field goal shooting. He is 3-for-7 from 3-point range in those four outings after going the previous seven games without a trey.* Another freshman guard, Je'lon Hornbeak started the first 20 games but has come off the bench the last three. He is expected to start Saturday at Oklahoma State in place of the injured Buddy Hield. Hornbeak averaged 1.0 point his final three games as a starter but has averaged 6.3 the last thee outings off the bench. He is shooting a team-high .360 from 3-point range on the year (among players with more than five makes) and is 12 for his last 26 (.462) over the last 14 games.
* Junior guard/forward Cameron Clark, who started 60 of 63 games and averaged 8.9 points in 30.4 minutes per contest over his first two seasons, is averaging 6.3 points in 16.1 minutes an outing off the bench this year. After shooting .238 from the field (5-for-21) in the first four games, he is shooting .550 in 19 games since (55-for-100). He is 16-for-25 (.640) over the last four games, averaging 8.8 points during the span (team-high 21.5 points during the stretch when projected to 40 minutes).
* A starter every game the previous two years, senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald has come off the bench in 22 of 23 games this season. On the year, he averages 6.0 points (.447 field goal shooting) and 3.2 rebounds in 15.7 minutes an outing. Six games ago at Kansas he became the 39th member of OU's 1,000-point club (he now ranks 34th with 1,041 points). Over the last three outings, Fitzgerald is averaging 7.2 points 9.0 points.
* Senior point guard Sam Grooms started all 31 games last year, led the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 per game). He has come off the bench in 21 of his 22 games this season but has still racked up a team-high 53 assists (2.4 per game) against 21 turnovers for a 2.5 ratio. In Big 12 play, he has 26 assists and nine turnovers for a 2.9 ratio.
PREVIEWING OKLAHOMA STATE
* Oklahoma State enters Saturday's game with an 18-5 overall record, ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 16 in the coaches' poll, and tied with Kansas and Kansas State for first place with an 8-3 Big 12 mark. After starting 2-3 in league play, the Cowboys have won six in a row. They are 12-1 at home with their only defeat coming to Gonzaga by one point on Dec. 31.
* In Big 12 play, OSU leads the league in free throw percentage (.743) and turnover margin (+2.6 per game), and ranks second in steals (7.7 spg) and third in average scoring margin (+11.7), field goal percentage defense (.388) and blocked shots (4.8 bpg).
* Junior guard Markel Brown is averaging a team-high 15.8 points per game to go along with averages of 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in a team-high 34.1 minutes a game. He ranks third in Big 12 play with his 17.6 points per contest. Twice in the last four games (at Kansas and at Texas Tech) Brown made seven 3-pointers in the first half of play. He is shooting a team-high .400 from behind the arc. Freshman guard Marcus Smart has been one of the Big 12's top performers this year, averaging 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and team highs of 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals. Sophomore forward Le'Bryan Nash averages 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds on the year, while freshman guard Phil Forte scores 11.3 points per contest with the help of a team-high 2.4 3-pointers per game (shooting .359). Senior center Philip Jurick pulls down a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game and has a team-high 25 blocks.
* The Cowboys are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Travis Ford, who owns a 98-60 record at OSU. The 1994 Kentucky graduate is in his 16th season overall and owns a 288-206 career mark.
OU-OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 129-94 series lead over Oklahoma State and is 42-61 against the Cowboys in Stillwater. OU has won nine of the last 14 overall meetings and 11 of the last 17. OU is 19-17 against the Cowboys since the start of the Big 12 in 1996-97 (5-11 in Stillwater). The Sooners have won three of the last seven meetings at Gallagher-Iba Arena but OSU has won the last three.
JAN. 12 VS. THE COWBOYS
* In its Jan. 12 Big 12 home opener, Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State 77-68 for its ninth consecutive Bedlam victory at Lloyd Noble Center. For the second straight year against OSU at home, the Sooners never trailed.
* OU scored the game's first seven points and extended its lead to as many as 14 (32-18) before settling for a 38-29 halftime advantage. OSU cut the margin to two (52-50) with 9:34 remaining, but the Sooners later used a 12-3 spurt to retake command, 70-57, with 4:00 to go.
* OU's 77 points stand as the third most surrendered by OSU this season, and the Sooners' .431 field goal mark was the fourth best allowed by the Cowboys. OSU entered the game allowing just 56.9 points per game and holding opponents to a .374 field goal mark.
* Oklahoma entered the game shooting .310 from 3-point range on the season, but turned in a season-high .615 mark against the Cowboys (8-for-13). OSU was 6-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half and 0-for-9 in the second (shot .286 for the game).
* OU shot .905 from the free throw line (19-for-21), the second best by a Big 12 team in league play this year (the Sooners were 14-for-14 in Monday's win over TCU).
* Senior Romero Osby finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-for-12 field goal and 5-for-6 free throw shooting. The free throw miss came on his last attempt, snapping a streak of 36 straight makes. He finished one free throw shy of tying the school record for consecutive conversions (37 by Nate Carter in 2006-07).
* Freshman Buddy Hield tallied 15 points (second-highest career total), four boards and a team-high five assists against two turnovers in a team-high 37 minutes (most playing time by a Sooner this season). He made a career-high three 3-pointers on five attempts.
* Junior Amath M'Baye netted 15 points, his third highest total of the season, on 5-for-9 shooting. M'Baye scored seven straight points in the second half (including his first 3-pointer of the year), pushing OU's 63-57 lead to 70-57 with 4:00 remaining.
* Senior guard Steven Pledger scored in double figures for the seventh straight game (11 points) and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds (second highest career total). He made all five of his free throw attempts.
* OU held OSU freshman Marcus Smart to 10 points (3-for-10 shooting), two rebounds and three assists. Smart entered the game averaging 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists a contest.
The Sooners play a second consecutive road game when they travel to face Texas Tech on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU.