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When the Oklahoma Sooners play the UAB Blazers tonight in the second semifinal game of the preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden, people who don't know Blake Griffin will be introduced to possibly the best player in college Basketball.

The preseason first-team All-America and national player of the year candidate has led the Sooners to a 4-0 record and a No. 11 ranking in the AP poll. He has averaged 26.0 points (tied for fourth in the nation) and 19.8 rebounds (first).

"I've definitely had nightmares about Blake Griffin," UAB coach Mike Davis said yesterday afternoon at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. "He is the best big man in the country."

The Sooners are coming off of an 82-78 win over Davidson, a game they barely won after leading by 20 points with under 13 minutes to go. Griffin knows the team has to finish the game if they want to win this one.

"We need to become a little more experienced, especially against a team like UAB," the sophomore forward said.

Griffin, born in Oklahoma City, might be the No. 1 overall pick if he entered the 2009 NBA Draft. None other than the Oklahoma City Thunder currently have the best shot to get that pick .

"People always ask me, do you think you'll play for the Thunder, but I try not to think about that," he said. "It wouldn't be fair to the rest of my team. I am trying to stay focused and win games and help this team get better."

Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel praised the job UAB has done to get to this point, particularly with its tough schedule.

"One of the things about watching UAB is how aggressive and how well coached they are," he said.

The Blazers are especially good from 3-point range, where they shoot 40 percent. UAB won road games against Santa Clara and Arizona to advance to the semifinals.

The first semifinal of the night features 10th-ranked Purdue against Boston College. Boston College beat St. John's, 82-78, last week to advance to the semifinals, and Purdue cruised over Loyola (Ill.), 78-46. Boston College has four players averaging in double figures and is led by senior guard Tyrese Rice, who averages 16.7 points per game.

"To go up against a guard like Tyrese Rice is something we can't really prepare for in practice," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.

Despite having Rice on its side, Boston College knows it will have its hands full against a Purdue team that has an average margin of victory of 29 points.

"They are pretty aggressive defensive team," head coach Al Skinner said.




Madison Square Garden

7:00 Purdue vs. Boston College

9:00 Oklahoma vs. UAB


Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 26, 2008


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