Blake Griffin and Willie Warren have led Oklahoma to its longest undefeated start in conference play in more than two decades. Based on the team’s first meeting with Texas A&M, the Sooners could need someone else to step up to keep their streak alive.
Griffin and Warren hope to deliver better performances in their second meeting with the Aggies as the second-ranked Sooners look to improve to 8-0 in Big 12 competition Wednesday night in Norman.
Oklahoma (21-1, 7-0) has the best record in the country with the third-best one-loss start in Big 12 history. The Sooners are also tied with Kansas atop the Big 12 with their longest undefeated start to conference play since they won their first 11 games in the Big Eight in 1985.
Griffin gets most of the credit for the Sooners’ impressive start. The 6-foot-10 sophomore forward leads the Big 12 with 22.4 points per game and leads all Division I players with 14.1 rebounds per game and 18 double-doubles.
Warren’s emergence has given the Sooners a valuable second scoring option to help spread the floor for Griffin. The 6-foot-4 freshman guard is averaging 15.5 points and shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3-point range.
Neither player, however, lived up to his lofty standards in the Sooners’ 69-63 road win over the Aggies (17-5, 3-4) on Jan. 17.
Griffin got into early foul trouble and was limited to 24 minutes, finishing with 16 points and a season low-tying six rebounds. A 63.8 percent shooter on the season, he was 6-for-14 in that game.
The Aggies also managed to keep Warren in check, holding him to nine points.
With the Texas A&M defense focused on Oklahoma’s top two scorers, Sooners guard Austin Johnson stepped up with 19 points and seven assists while going 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
“We were doubling Griffin with the guards and that would leave someone open,” Aggies guard Josh Carter said. “Johnson seemed to be the one who was open today, and he wasn’t missing.”
Griffin and Warren were far more effective in Oklahoma’s 78-68 win over Iowa State on Saturday. Griffin had 23 points and 15 rebounds for his fourth straight game with at least 20 and 15, and Warren added 29 points, six rebounds and four assists while going 9-for-18 from the field and 5-for-10 from behind the arc.
“He’s done a great job all year,” Griffin said of Warren after the Sooners’ ninth straight win overall. “He really takes a lot of pressure off us inside, and every big game we’ve needed him to step up for us he has.”
Both Sooners stars hope to build on their most recent performances as they host an Aggies team that’s rebounded from a slow start in Big 12 competition with back-to-back conference wins.
Bryan Davis had 18 points and Carter added 17 as four Texas A&M players scored in double figures in a 76-64 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“This week was real big,” said Carter, the Aggies’ leading scorer with 12.9 points per game. “We knew we had to come in and play well to get the two wins. It was big for us and hopefully it will get us going and keep our confidence high.”
Carter led Texas A&M with 17 points and seven rebounds in the January loss to Oklahoma.