After the teams’ first meeting this season, Blake Griffin said he hoped Oklahoma’s win over Texas would set the tone for the rest of the Big 12 season. That’s certainly proven to be the case.
Coming off the best game of his career, Griffin leads the surging Sooners into the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday night to face a Texas team that’s struggling but has won five straight at home against top 5 opponents.
Oklahoma (25-1, 11-0) pushed its winning streak to 13 last Saturday, defeating Texas Tech 95-74 behind Griffin’s 40 points and 23 rebounds - both career highs. He became the third Sooner and first since Wayman Tisdale had 61 points and 22 boards against Texas-San Antonio on Dec. 28, 1983, to post a 40-point, 20-rebound game.
Griffin’s performance was also the first 40-20 game in Big 12 history.
“Have you guys ever seen the movie, ‘The Terminator?’ That’s what that kid is like,” Red Raiders coach Pat Knight said. “That kid has no facial expressions. He just plays and it’s like every kid out there on him is like Sarah Connor, and he’s just going to take his time and kill him.”
Griffin’s 23 rebounds tied a Lloyd Noble Center record and his 22nd double-double of the season set a new program mark.
“There are certain times certain guys say they were in the zone,” he said. “I thought I was kind of in that zone today.”
Against Texas on Jan. 12, Griffin had 20 points and 10 boards as Oklahoma snapped a six-game skid to the Longhorns with a 78-63 victory. Now the Sooners will be looking to end a three-game slide in Austin, with their last road win over Texas coming by a 74-58 score Feb. 28, 2005.
A victory over the Longhorns would not only give the Sooners their best conference start ever - they opened 11-0 in the Big Eight in 1985 - it would mark Oklahoma’s first 14-game winning streak since it won 14 in a row to open the 1987-88 season.
“We can’t get complacent,” Griffin said. “We’ve got to keep being hungry, keep playing hard and not stop until we get our final goal.”
Guard Willie Warren, a Fort Worth native, looks to continue his strong play when he returns to the arena where he scored 27 points for North Crowley High in its state championship victory last season. Warren - the Sooners’ second-leading scorer at 14.9 points per game - had 17 points and five boards in the win over then-No. 11 Texas last month.
The Longhorns (17-8, 6-5) return to Austin following a 1-1 road stretch that ended with an 81-66 loss to Texas A&M on Monday. Texas has dropped four of its last six.
“It’s not anything about X’s and O’s, we just didn’t play with the intensity we needed to tonight,” senior guard A.J. Abrams said. “If I could figure that out, if Coach could figure that out, I’m sure we would do it.”
Texas, though, has knocked off five straight top 5 opponents at home since a 110-103 overtime loss to then-No. 2 Kansas on Feb. 11, 2002. The Longhorns have won nine straight home games against ranked foes since the February 2005 loss to then-No. 20 Oklahoma.
Abrams, 13th in the nation with 37.3 minutes per game, played the entire 40 against the Aggies, but scored just seven points. He needs 10 points Saturday to move past Joey Wright (1,819) for fifth place on Texas’ all-time scoring list.
Abrams, averaging 18.3 points in his last four games against the Sooners, will also set the program record for games played with 135.
Oklahoma leads the series with Texas 46-27.