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Oklahoma at Texas

2/21/09

The #2 Oklahoma Sooners travel to Austin to take on the un-ranked Texas Longhorns in this Big 12 match-up

These teams met earlier this year up in Norman, with Oklahoma dominating in a 78-63 win that saw them shoot over 50% from the field. The Longhorns were held to just 33.8% on their FG tries, and only connected on 5 of their 23 3-point tries. Oklahoma had 4 players with 15+ pts in that game, with Big 12 scoring leader F Blake Griffin leading the way with 20 pts and 10 rebounds.


The Sooners come into this game at 25-1 overall and ranked #2 in the country, and leading the Big 12 with an unblemished 11-0 mark. Since their lone loss of the season at Arkansas back at the end of December, they have reeled off 13 wins in a row, including 11 in a row vs the conference. Every conference win has been by at least 5 pts, with 6 coming by double-digits.


Blake Griffin, a 6’10” 250 lb sophomore, is not only leading the Sooners in scoring and rebounding….he is leading the Big 12 in both categories, with an average of 22.8 ppg and 14.2 rpg, and is connecting on 64% of his FG attempts. The bruising F is having a stellar season and has earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors 5 times already. The Sooners have 2 other players averaging in double-digits, with Freshman PG Willie Warren fulfilling expectations with his 14.9 ppg average, and Junior G Tony Crocker chipping in with 10 ppg, and leading the team in 3-pointers and 3-pt %.


As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 80.5 ppg, and connecting on nearly 50% of their FG tries, which is the 7th best FG % in the nation. That team scoring average has pretty much held up in conference play also ,where they are averaging 79 ppg, but in road conference games that average has slipped a bit to 75 ppg.


On defense, the Sooners are giving up 66.3 ppg and allowing opposing offenses to connect on just 39% of their FG attempts, however that average increases slightly to 67.7 ppg in league action. Oklahoma will be trying not to look ahead to 2nd place Kansas, who they will be hosting in just 2 days.

The Texas Longhorns have fallen on hard times lately. Just 3 weeks ago they were the #11 ranked team in the nation, but starting with a heartbreaking home loss to Kansas State in OT, they have now lost 4 out of their last 6 games to fall out of the national rankings. That loss to Kansas State started a slide that saw them lose 3 straight games by 4 pts or less. They did regroup with a huge 25 pt blowout of Oklahoma St in a 99-74 home win. But they followed that game up having to go to OT to beat lowly Colorado (1-10, Big 12), and then proceeded to lose their last game by 15 at Texas A&M, a team that had managed just a 3-7 conference record up till then, and had lost 3 games in a row and 6 out of their last 8.


The Longhorns are 10-2 in home games this year, but have dropped 2 of their last 3 in Austin. On the year, they are averaging 73 ppg, on 44% shooting from the field and just 32% from 3-point range.


As expected, Senior G A.J. Abrams has been the leading scorer with a 16.8 ppg average, hitting on 39.5 % of his FG’s. But he is also the Big 12’s leading 3-point threat, knocking down 75 of 191 (39.3%) from long range already, for an average of 3 per game. Junior Damion Johnson has improved on his 13 ppg from last year, with an average of 15.6 ppg this year, and is also the team’s leading rebounder by far, with an average of 9 per game. And Sophomore F Gary Johnson has broken in as a starter this year, chipping in with 11.4 ppg and nearly 6 rpg.

On defense, the Longhorns have held opponents to just 64.5 ppg on 40.5% shooting, but have given up just over 68 ppg in league play.

Abrams had a terrible game last time out against A&M, hitting just 3 of 12 FG’s and just 1 of 7 from 3-pt. range, for a total of just 7 pts. The last time these teams met, Abrams finished with 22 pts, but was held to just 3 of 15 from 3-pts range. If Oklahoma can limit his effectiveness again from long range, they should have an excellent chance to pull off the road win here. The Longhorns have had a tough stretch, losing 4 of their last 6. And Oklahoma has only lost once all year. Oklahoma has gone 10-0 against teams in the Sagarin ratings top 50 this year, whereas the Longhorns have gone 5-5 against top 50 competition. Even with the Sooners winning easily in the last match-up, and with Kansas coming up in 2 days, I can’t see them looking past this game. Prior to their win against Texas earlier, the Sooners had lost 6 of the last 7 in this series. That should provide enough motivation for this game.


With this game looking like a possible pick-em, and with the teams seemingly heading in opposite directions, I will look for Oklahoma to make it 2 in a row against the Longhorns and win this game straight-up. I will take the Sooners up to –2 here.

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