Senior Forward Andrew Fitzgerald is seeing less minutes and scoring fewer points this season than he has since his freshman year at Oklahoma in 2009-10, but barring something totally out of the ordinary, on Monday night at home against archrival Texas, the 6-8 former starter will exceed 1,000 points for his career and join an exclusive group of former Sooners who have accomplished that feat.
Fitzgerald needs just two points at Lloyd Noble Center on Monday to reach the 1,000-point level and become the newest member and the 38th all-time to score 1,000 or more points in his career at Oklahoma. Fitzgerald began the 2012-13 season with a total of 903 points, averaging just over 12 points a game as a starter the previous two seasons.
Teammate Steven Pledger reached 1,000 points late last season and is presently 25th on the all-time Oklahoma scoring list, just seven points behind Corey Brewer (1996-98) at No, 24.. With at least 15 games remaining to play this season, including Monday's game with Texas, both Pledger and Fitzgerald will continue their climb among OU's all-time leading scorers.
Coming into the current season, Fitzgerald had made 74 starts for OU, including 64 consecutive games in his sophomore and junior years between 2010 and 2012. This season, with the a more talented and deeper roster put together by second-year Sooner head coach Lon Kruger, Fitzgerald's contributions and value to the team have come in a reserve role as one of the first players off the bench.
"Coach (and I) had our meeting and (he) said I would come off the bench some games this year," Fitzgerald said earlier this season about his new reserve role. "I have been real positive about it. He still wants me to be aggressive and help the team out scoring wise.
"I'm just here to help my team out and be a positive leader for us with a team-first attitude," he said.
You really wouldn't expect anything less from Fitzgerald, who works as hard off the court as he does on it. He was a Big 12 All-Academic honoree last season.
At 238 pounds with a wing span of seven feet, Fitzgerald has been one of Oklahoma's steadiest performers in his four seasons in Norman and he gives the Sooners a strong low-post presence when he is in the game. He scored six points in 17 minutes of action at Kansas State on Saturday. All six points came within a 90-second span of time early in the first half. With all of Fitzgerald's offensive production coming in the first six minutes, it looked like almost a sure bet he would reach the 1,000-point milestone on Saturday.
Fitzgerald's high-point total this season is 12, which he has accomplished twice - in OU's season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe and again a week ago vs. Texas Tech on five-for-seven shooting from the field. He has tallied nine points on three occasions through the Sooners' first 16 games this season. His career high is 27 points, achieved last season in an OU home win over Iowa State.
A resident of Baltimore, Md., Fitzgerald was a four-star recruit by both Rivals.com and Scout.com when he signed with Oklahoma then-head coach Jeff Capel in 2009 out of Owings (Md.) High School. In addition to Oklahoma, Fitzgerald also considered offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.
As much as Fitzgerald looks forward to becoming the 39th Sooner to score 1,000 points in his career, as an unselfish player with a team-first outlook, a win over Red River rival Texas would be all the much sweeter. In six tries against Texas while Fitzgerald has been at Oklahoma, the Sooners have won just once, and that was the first meeting between the two schools in his freshman season.
Sooner fans are hoping they will have at least two big things to cheer about Monday night against the Longhorns.