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February 7, 2014

Woodard on course to break freshman record

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There was 4:03 remaining in overtime when Oklahoma point guard Jordan Woodard hit a jumper to give the Sooners a two-point lead against West Virginia.

After the Mountaineers retook the lead on a 3-pointer from WVU guard Eron Harris -- one of 11 the Mountaineers drained last Wednesday night -- Woodard was able to get back into the lane and draw a foul.

SCOOPHD: WOODARD ON PACE TO BREAK SCHOOL RECORD


Video by Eddie Radosevich

He missed the first foul shot, drained the second and finished the night 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. In a game where the Sooners were playing on less than full tank thanks to horrendous road trip, battled back from a 14-point deficit in the second half to make a game of it.

"We just had to come in at halftime and refocus," Woodard said. "We felt like we weren't dictating anything on defense, and they got a lot of open looks in the first half. It's hard to play from behind the whole game, especially on the road, so we had to fight back to get back in it."

The Sooners led the Mountaineers heading into the final minute of regulation and ended up losing 91-86, but Woodard played one of the best night's of his career, scoring 23 points, dropping eight dimes and grabbing four boards.

OU coach Lon Kruger put the game in Woodard's hands late and asked him to do what he does best: Drive toward the basket, find open shooters and finish when he could.

"Coach had the bigs set a lot of ball screens at the top so I could get into the lane and really just create for my teammates," Woodard said. "But I was always taking what the defense gave me whether that was a lay-up or kicking it to a wide open teammate for a shot."

Because Woodard has played more games than bad, he has an opportunity to become one of the best freshman players in school history. Woodard is on course to make more free throws than any other freshman in school history.

ON RECORD PACE

Woodard has attempted 162 shots from the charity stripe and made 125 of them. He needs to make just 10 more free throws to hold the record for makes from the foul line by a freshman.

He's one of the best players in the country when it comes to earning trips to the foul line. Only two Big 12 players have shot more foul shots than Woodard. West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten has shot 175, and Oklahoma State point guard point guard Marcus Smart has taken 168.

Neither Staten nor Smart shoot a higher percentage than Woodard though, and Woodard's free throw rate -- the amount of free throws a player takes divided by the number shots from the floor a player takes -- is unparalleled in the league.

For almost every one of the 169 shots from the field Woodard has taken, he's also taken a free throw. His free throw rate following the West Virginia game is 95.9.

Former Sooners Jeff Webster and Wayman Tisdale are tied for the record for free throws made by a freshman with 134 apiece. The record has stood since 1983, and Woodard could break it against Baylor at 6 tonight at Lloyd Noble. He understands the challenge the Bears present, even though they've lost six of their last seven games.

"They're playing a lot harder," he said, "but we gotta to take care of home court. They've definitely been playing well together, but we've also improved since the last time we played them too."

'KEEP ATTACKING'

After the Sooners' loss at Iowa State, Woodard had already passed former Sooner Blake Griffin for most free throws made by a freshman with 118 makes. Woodard says there's no secret to his ability to earn trips to the foul line.

"I just keep attacking, keep being aggressive," he said. "There's really nothing special to it."

Griffin hit just 116 free throws throughout his entire freshman season. He also took the second-most free throws by a freshman in a season (197).

The record for free throw attempts by a freshman belongs to Tisdale (211). Woodard has already slid into the fourth spot on that list ahead of former Sooner Willie Warren. He needs just six free throw attempts to Webster for third place.

Woodard could also have one of the highest assist totals by a freshman in school history. He averages 4.74 assists per game, and if he continues at that current pace he could have about 147 assists by the end of the regular season.

He surpassed the century mark for assists against Iowa State last weekend. He dropped seven dimes in that game, but he's only played one game where he recorded double-digit assists. He dished out a career-high 12 assists against UT-Arlington last December.

Former Sooner Tommy Mason-Griffin dropped the most dimes by a freshman four years ago with 154. Former Sooner Terry Evans dropped the second-most with 141 in 1990.

Woodard also has a good chance to finish among the eight best freshman in school history in 3-point shooting percentage and steals.

He's shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. Among freshmen, Tommy Mason-Griffin shot the highest percentage from 3-point land at 42.4 percent and Lawrence Mackenzie is eighth-best at 32.1 percent.

If that percentage holds true for the remainder of the year, Woodard would finish with the third-best 3-point shooting percentage by a freshman in school history. Evans is second with a 42.3 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

Woodard is also quite adept at taking the ball out of the hands of defenders. His 27 steals this season rank third on the team and 11th in the conference.

Last season sophomore guards Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak each notched more than 30 steals. Hield's 33 steals in 2012-13 is tied for seventh all-time among freshman with Griffin and Tisdale, while Hornbeak's 32 is good enough for 10th-best.



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