Playing its first game in 11 days and just its third in 25 days, Oklahoma hosts Ohio on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. The 7-3 Sooners haven't played since a 56-55 home loss to Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 18. The 8-4 Bobcats, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 last season, posted a 93-57 home win over Maryland Eastern Shore in their most recent game on Dec. 22. They are 8-1 at home and 0-3 on the road.
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 calling the action. The game will be televised by Sooner Sports TV (FS Southwest) with Bob Carpenter and Billy Tubbs announcing.
• Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
• OU students may purchase a ticket for $10.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Oklahoma has won 36 of its last 37 and 94 of its last 97 home non-conference games. The most recent loss came in its last game, a 56-55 defeat to Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 18. The last time OU lost a non-conference game at Lloyd Noble Center (also to Stephen F. Austin), it rebounded to beat Arkansas, Gonzaga and West Virginia in consecutive games in the 2007-08 season. The Sooners went on to advance to NCAA Tournament second round that year.
• Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Oklahoma and Ohio.
• The Sooners have struggled to make shots, ranking eighth in the Big 12 with their .414 season mark. They have actually shot better in their three losses (combined .421 field goal mark) than their wins (.411). OU has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 5.1 boards in its seven victories, but is -2.3 per game in its three defeats.
• Oklahoma freshman guard Buddy Hield is averaging 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds over the last two games. In the season's first eight games, he averaged 8.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.
• Ohio returns all five starters from last year's 29-8 team that lost in overtime to No. 1 seed North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 round (after knocking off Michigan and South Florida in the first two rounds). Nine Bobcats saw action in the game against UNC and all nine are on this year's roster.
• As of Thursday, OU is ranked 24th in the CBSSports.com RPI (third best in Big 12 behind No. 2 Kansas and No. 22 Oklahoma State) and projected as a No. 12 NCAA Tournament seed.
• After playing six games in a span of 13 days, Saturday's contest against Ohio will mark just the Sooners' third in a 25-day stretch.
• Oklahoma has already won as many games away from home this year (5-2 record) as it did all of last season (4-11 record). The Sooners will play at least 10 more games away from Lloyd Noble Center this season.
• OU has already played seven games this year decided by seven points or fewer and has won five of them. Last year the Sooners finished 4-5 under the circumstance.
• The Sooners have exhibited a balanced offensive attack through 10 games, with seven players averaging between 6.3 and 12.7 points per contest. Nine players average between 16.8 and 25.8 minutes per game. A Sooner has played at least 30 minutes in a game just eight times this year.
• OU returned its top six scorers and 88 percent of its scoring from last season, but newcomers rank third, fourth, fifth and eighth in scoring average. The team's four newcomers have accounted for 41 percent of the team's points (273 of 669).
• Despite the fact that OU has registered only 1.4 fewer turnovers per game (131 total turnovers on the season) than its opponents (145), the Sooners own a 165-118 advantage in points off turnovers (16.5 to 11.8 per game).
• The Sooners' bench has been key, supplying 254 of the team's 614 points (41 percent). OU's reserves have been outscored just twice in 10 games (vs. Gonzaga and Northwestern State). Two starters from last year (Cameron Clark and Sam Grooms) have come off the bench in each of their games, while another, Andrew Fitzgerald, has come off the bench in nine of 10 contests.
• Senior forward Romero Osby leads the team in scoring (12.7 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg) and blocked shots (0.9 bpg) in just 23.3 minutes a contest. Over the last three games, he is averaging 16.3 points on 18-for-29 (.621) field goal and 13-for-13 free throw shooting. Osby, who is shooting a team-high .488 from the field, was named to the Old Spice Classic all-tourney team last month after averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds (shot .565 from the field). He is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder from last year (7.8 rpg).
• Senior guard Steven Pledger averages 10.3 points in a team-high 25.8 minutes a game. He ranks fifth in the Big 12 with his 2.0 treys per game and sixth with his .370 3-point percentage (has made at least one in nine of 10 games and has three games of at least three makes). The league's leading returning scorer from last year (16.2 ppg), Pledger continues to climb OU's career charts in scoring and 3-pointers. He ranks 28th in school history with 1,125 points and is tied with Tony Crocker for fourth with 196 career 3-pointers.
• Freshman guard Buddy Hield has come off the bench in all 10 games and ranks third on the team with his 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per contest. Over the last two outings, he is averaging 10.5 points and 7.5 boards. The Freeport, Bahamas, native is tied for the team lead with his 2.3 offensive rebounds per contest. Fifty-five percent of his rebounds (23 of 42) have come on the offensive end. Hield is 5-for-10 from 3-point range over the last four games.
• Preseason Big 12 Rookie of the Year Amath M'Baye averages 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, but is averaging 1.5 points and 2.0 boards over the last two outings (18.0 mpg). He had led OU in rebounding in each of the five games prior to the Dec. 15 win over Texas A&M when he was held without a point (0-for-3 from the field) or rebound. He was averaging 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over the four outings prior to that. The junior forward scored a season-high 19 points in a win over West Virginia in the Old Spice Classic third-place game and was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Nov. 26.
• After scoring in single digits in each of the first eight games, junior guard/forward Cameron Clark erupted for 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting in the Dec. 15 win over Texas A&M. His previous season highs for field goals and attempts were three and six, respectively. 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 17.1 minutes an outing off the bench this year. He is shooting .588 (20-for-34) from the field over the last six games.
• Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak has contributed across the board in OU's first 10 games, averaging 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and a team-high 1.3 steals in 24.0 minutes per game. He has started all 10 contests (played point guard last two games).
• Preseason Mid-American Conference favorite Ohio shares the league's best record at 8-4 entering weekend play. The Bobcats, who have won 70 games over the past three seasons (average of 23.3), are coming off a school-record 29-win campaign that saw them reach the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 as a No. 13 seed (lost to No. 1 seed North Carolina in overtime). Ohio returns all five starters from last year, as well as its top nine scorers.
• The Bobcats lead the MAC in field goal percentage (.474), assists (18.6 apg), steals (10.1 spg) and turnover margin (+6.1), while ranking second in 3-point percentage (.367), free throw percentage (.732), scoring offense (73.8 ppg) and scoring defense (62.4 ppg). They are 8-1 at home this year and 0-3 in true road games (lost 84-76 at Robert Morris, 84-58 at Memphis and 85-76 at Massachusetts).
• Preseason first-team all-league selection D.J. Cooper is the reigning MAC East Division Player of the Week after averaging 16.0 points, 12.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals (also compiled a 3.4 assist/turnover ratio) in two games last week. Last year's MAC Tournament MVP (he averaged 19.7 points and 6.7 assists per game) is averaging team highs of 14.3 points, 7.9 assists (ranks fourth nationally) and 1.8 steals this season, while making a team-high 24 3-pointers (shooting .338). Two games ago at UMass, Cooper recorded 23 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. His 14-assist performance last game against Maryland Eastern Shore was his fourth outing this season of double-digit handouts.
• Fellow senior guard Walter Offutt is the only other Bobcat averaging double figures in scoring (12.0 ppg). He has made 22 treys on the year (shooting .373) and owns a team-high .872 free throw mark while also averaging 3.6 rebounds. Offutt averaged 19.3 points in three NCAA Tournament games last March (went 10-for-17 from 3-point range) and was named to the NCAA Midwest Region All-Tournament Team. He is averaging 16.5 points over the last two games.
• Three other players average at least 9.0 points per contest. They are junior guard Nick Kellogg (9.3 ppg, .413 3FG%; son of CBS Sports college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg) and senior forwards Ivo Baltic (9.2 ppg, team-high 5.8 rpg, .500 FG%) and Reggie Keely (9.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, .667 FG%).
• Jim Christian is in his first year as Ohio's head coach after spending the previous four seasons at TCU (compiled a 56-73 record) and six years before that at MAC member Kent State (137-59). Christian replaced John Groce, who is in his first year at Illinois.
OU-OHIO SERIES HISTORY
Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Oklahoma and Ohio in men's basketball.
DEC. 18 STEPHEN F. AUSTIN RECAP
• Stephen F. Austin snapped Oklahoma's 36-game non-conference home winning streak with a 56-55 victory on Dec. 18. The Lumberjacks were also the last team to beat the Sooners in non-conference action at Lloyd Noble Center (66-62 on Dec. 8, 2007). SFA improved to 8-1 with the victory (is now 9-1 heading into weekend play).
• OU freshman guard Buddy Hield missed a potential game-tying free throw with 3.9 seconds remaining after making the first of two attempts. His potential game-tying field goal try (on which he got fouled) nearly crawled over the front of the rim before rolling off.
• SFA extended its streak of holding opponents under 70 points to 41 games. OU shot .379 from the field and .214 from 3-point range (3-for-14), while limiting the Lumberjacks to .393 and .214 respective figures.
• OU led 30-26 at halftime but Stephen F. Austin opened the second half with a 21-6 run to take a 47-36 lead with 11:04 remaining. The Sooners responded with a 16-4 run to go ahead 52-51 with 4:40 left. SFA broke a 54-54 tie with two free throws at the 1:04 mark, the last points before Hield's free throw attempts with 3.9 seconds left.
• Guards Je'lon Hornbeak and Steven Pledger were the only Sooners who scored in double figures, each finishing with 12 points. Hornbeak made a career-high three 3-pointers on five attempts and handed out three of OU's six assists. Pledger entered the game shooting .417 from 3-point range but finished 0-for-6 against the Lumberjacks. He was 6-for-8 from 2-point range.
• Hield netted 9 points and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds. His 11 total boards and 6 offensive caroms were each team highs this season.
• Senior forward Romero Osby averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds the previous two outings but was held to 8 points and 3 rebounds against the Lumberjacks (4-for-8 shooting). He was limited to 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
• Senior point guard Sam Grooms did not play due to injury.
OU is back in action Monday at 2 p.m. CT when it hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at McCasland Field House. The New Year's Eve contest will mark the first regular season men's basketball game in the building since March 5, 1975. The "Field House Series" contest will be televised by Sooner Sports TV.