Oklahoma basketball's Steven Pledger among best shooting guards in the country

OU BASKETBALL — It may be early in the season, but OU junior guard Steven Pledger ranks among the nation's top guards in terms of shooting percentages. Pledger credits his hot shooting to summer workouts with his father back home in Virginia.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 20, 2011

NORMAN — Oklahoma junior Steven Pledger is as hot as any guard in the country. He credits adding sweet spots to his game last summer while working out with his father at home in Virginia,

Heading into tonight's game against South Carolina State, Pledger is averaging 19.5 points, which ranks among the top 30 scorers in the nation.

The big news is Pledger is among the national leaders in field goal percentage even though the majority of his shots are from 15 feet or farther.

Pledger is shooting 51.4 percent on 3-pointers, which ranks fourth nationally.

He's shooting 60.4 percent overall, the top field goal percentage of any guard in the country, 22nd overall in a category dominated by centers and power forwards.

“Steven is a really good shooter. And his shot selection has been really good,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “He's working hard to get open and his teammates are getting him the ball at the right time. He's off to a great start. We need that to continue.”

The Chesapeake, Va., product has added new elements to his game. He's attacking more off the dribble. The biggest factor is his production on the offensive glass, a physical guard who can score on put-backs.

“We kept hearing ‘streaky shooter.' That was probably the perception (coming in),” Kruger said. “But Steve can do so much more than just be a shooter. He can be a good defender. He can be a good rebounder. He can be a good leader on the floor.

“That's why our expectations are very high for Steve.”

Assisted by teammates' screens and the patience to wait for good shots, Pledger's 31 points on only 13 shots in a win against Houston was a career high in regulation. His career high is 38 in an overtime win last season at Iowa State but 10 points came in the extra period.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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MEN'S BASKTEBALL

Oklahoma vs. South Carolina State

* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

* Where: Lloyd Noble Center

* TV: KAUT-43 (Cox channel 16)

* Radio: KOKC-AM (1520)

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* The Sooners have four players averaging double figures. All four have scored 16 or more points in a game.

* OU sixth man Tyler Neal has averaged 10.0 points since Calvin Newell left the program five games into the season.

* The Bulldogs have lost six of their last seven games.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Oklahoma (8-1)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Cl. - Pts. - Reb.

G - Sam Grooms - 6-1 - Jr. - 7.0 - 5.1*

G - Steven Pledger - 6-4 - Jr. - 19.5 - 3.9

F - Cameron Clark - 6-6 - So. - 10.0 - 3.4

F - Romero Osby - 6-8 - Jr. - 10.0 - 7.8

C - Andrew Fitzgerald - 6-8 - Jr. - 10.9 - 5.8

South Carolina State (4-7)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Cl. - Pts. - Reb.

G - Khalif Toombs - 5-9 - Jr. - 12.0 - 3.7*

G - Brandon Riley - 6-2 - Sr. - 20.9 - 4.6

F - Omar Sanders - 6-7 - Sr. - 10.8 - 6.5

F - Aaron Martin - 6-5 - Jr. - 7.1 - 4.4

C - Presano Bell - 6-7 - Sr. - 6.7 - 5.5

* assists

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