George Mason-Oklahoma Preview
Oklahoma will be hard-pressed to play any better than it did in its last game.
The No. 18 Sooners will have to shake off the rust of returning from eight days off when they host George Mason on Wednesday in their final tuneup for Big 12 play.
Oklahoma (8-3) cruised to an 85-51 rout of Weber State on Dec. 22 two days after a 69-67 loss to then-No. 16 Washington in Las Vegas. The Sooners quickly erased any lingering effects of that defeat with an incredible 39-0 run in the first half to take a 51-12 lead into the break.
''You're aware, of course, there's a really good run going on, but you don't stop to think about the numbers, necessarily,'' coach Lon Kruger said. ''But during that stretch, we were getting looks that we wanted, and they weren't, and that's always what you're looking for.''
The 12 points were the fewest Oklahoma had given up in a half since allowing 10 to Texas A&M in the first half on March 1, 2008.
"We need to get better at that going into the Big 12," Spangler said. "I think we didn't have any other thoughts than to keep executing and get good shots."
The Sooners host No. 22 Baylor in Saturday's conference opener.
Oklahoma averaged 14.1 turnovers in its first eight games, improving to average 7.7 in the last three.
Top scorer Buddy Hield is averaging 16.8 points on 51.7 percent shooting at home compared to marks of 14.5 points and 30.7 percent elsewhere.
Hield and Spangler each had double-doubles in last season's 81-66 win over George Mason (5-6) in Washington on Dec. 8. That marked the first meeting between these teams.
The Sooners held a 51-29 edge on the glass in that one, though the Patriots may be able to close that gap now. Oklahoma ranks last in the Big 12 in rebound margin at plus-1.9 while George Mason has newcomer Shevon Thompson at center.
Thompson, a 6-foot-11 junior college transfer, is one of the nation's top rebounders with 11.3 per game.
The Patriots have won three straight, going 3-1 since freshman Isaiah Jackson was inserted into the lineup Dec. 6. Jackson is averaging 16.7 points in this win streak, with season highs of 22 points and eight rebounds in a 68-60 win at Wright State last Tuesday.
"Isaiah Jackson once again stepped up and had a big game for us," coach Paul Hewitt said. "I tell people all the time he's one of our two smartest players and it shows. He's always composed, makes plays, doesn't get rattled."
The Patriots have dropped nine straight to ranked teams since beating No. 18 Kansas State 87-77 on Nov. 22, 2007.