Off to their best start in 23 seasons, Oklahoma still doesn’t feel that it is getting the credit it deserves.
The Sooners will get another chance to respond to their critics on Saturday afternoon in College Station as they take on a Texas A&M team coming off its most impressive win of the season.
No. 6 Oklahoma (16-1, 2-0 Big 12) goes for its fifth straight win following a 78-63 victory over No. 11 Texas on Monday. This is the Sooners’ best start since opening the 1985-86 season with 17 straight wins.
“Everyone wants to make a big deal about the bench and starters playing X amount of minutes. We’re trying to win games, and our starters can play 40 minutes a game,” said Oklahoma’s third-year coach Jeff Capel, referring to the Sooners’ bench scoring just three points against the Longhorns. “We get talked about our bench and what we don’t do well and we’re 16-1. We just beat a team that we hadn’t beaten (in six straight tries). We’re a good basketball team, man. Our guys can play.”
Capel is specifically talking about sophomore forward Blake Griffin. The nation’s top rebounder and 13th leading scorer posted his sixth consecutive double-double on Monday with 20 points and 10 boards.
“For us to come in and get that first one, it feels good,” Griffin said, “and hopefully it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the Big 12 season.”
While Griffin led the Sooners past Texas for the first time in three seasons, he’ll try to guide Oklahoma to a victory in College Station for the first time since a 45-44 win on Jan. 14, 2006.
However, in the teams’ last meeting on March 1 in Norman, the Aggies had a record-setting performance they’d like to forget. Griffin had 13 points and eight boards in a 64-37 victory as Texas A&M scored just 10 first-half points— the fewest ever in a half of a Big 12 game. The Aggies also went scoreless for 16:12—the longest stretch in Division I since the shot clock era started in 1986.
During its four-game winning streak, Oklahoma has held opponents to a combined 33.2 percent shooting.
Sooners guard Willie Warren looks for another solid game after scoring 17 points and grabbing five boards against Texas. The freshman from Fort Worth, who is scoring 15.9 points per game, is averaging 20.3 points and shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range in his last six games.
Texas A&M returns to Reed Arena on Saturday after Wednesday’s 84-73 home win over No. 21 Baylor.
The Aggies (15-2, 1-1), who are 11-0 at home this season, look for their first back-to-back wins over ranked teams since Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 2007.
Junior center Chinemelu Elonu recorded his third straight double-double on Wednesday with 17 points and a career-high 16 boards. He had nine of the Aggies’ first 13 points as they built an 11-point halftime lead.
“Chin’s just becoming a monster out there,” Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. “He got tired and he wasn’t as good the last 10 minutes he played as the first 20 minutes he played.”
Aggies leading scorer Josh Carter had 15 points against Baylor. In six career games versus Oklahoma, the senior swingman is averaging 7.3 points while shooting 31.0 percent from the field.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 26-4.