September 02, 2014

When Oklahoma and Tulsa met last season, Jordan Woodard and the Sooners got the best of older brother James Woodard and the Golden Hurricane.

That appears likely to happen again Saturday when No. 16 Oklahoma bring its highest ranking in six seasons to Tulsa to face a Golden Hurricane team coming off a loss to a Division II opponent.

Oklahoma beat visiting Tulsa 101-91 last December behind a career-high 24 points and eight assists from Jordan, who shot 17 of 22 from the free-throw line. James scored a team-high 19 and added six rebounds for the Golden Hurricane.

It was the brothers' first meeting as college players after they were teammates for two years on Edmond Memorial high school's varsity squad. They won the Oklahoma Class 6A title in 2011, and Jordan led the team to the 2013 championship when James was a freshman at Tulsa.

This season, James leads Tulsa (5-4) with 14.4 points and 2.3 3-pointers per game, while Jordan tops Oklahoma (5-2) with an average of 4.1 assists and adds 8.1 points and 4.0 rebounds a contest.

The Sooners are well-rested for this matchup, having played once this month. They lost 69-56 to then-No. 2 Wisconsin in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 28, but wins in their first two games of the tournament over then-No. 22 UCLA and Butler - which is now ranked 15th - put them back in the Top 25 on Dec. 1 after opening the season at No. 19.

Oklahoma then rolled past Missouri 82-63 in the SEC/Big 12 challenge last Friday and moved up six spots in the rankings Monday. The Sooners haven't been this high in the poll since Blake Griffin's final season in 2008-09.

Leading scorer Buddy Hield got back on track against the Tigers, shooting 6 of 11 and scoring 17. The junior guard totaled 14 points and shot 4 for 21, including 3 for 15 from 3-point range, in the last two games in the Bahamas.

"It does feel good to get out of that," Hield said after making 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. "My teammates picked me up, you know. Isaiah (Cousins) and Ryan (Spangler) told me to keep on pushing and make shots. ... It is good to see some shots go down. I couldn't do it without my teammates helping me and talking to me."

Spangler scored 18 and Cousins added 16 as Oklahoma shot a season-best 57.4 percent.

"It was a good win, a new starting point, and we have to keep getting better," coach Lon Kruger said.

Tulsa is looking to do to the same after Wednesday's 69-66 home loss to Southeastern Oklahoma State.

The Golden Hurricane trailed by as many as 19 in the second half before Woodard's three-point play with 5 seconds left got them within two. After a made free throw by the Savage Storm, Tulsa's Shaquille Harrison missed a 3 as time expired.

It was Tulsa's first loss to a non-Division I team since falling to Quincy (Ill.) in 1977.

"Anybody can beat anybody. We talked about that pregame," first-year coach Frank Haith said. "You got to get yourself ready to play. You look across the country. Guys get beat by teams that aren't supposed to get beat by. It happens all the time."

Oklahoma has won seven straight in the series.

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