March 11, 2003
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Ranked sixth in this week's AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Oklahoma (21-6 overall, 12-4 Big 12) is the No. 3 seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament to be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the top four seeds, respectively, and will not play Thursday. The Sooners will begin defense of their 2002 conference tournament crown Friday at 8:20 p.m. CST against the winner of Thursday's Colorado (No. 6 seed) versus Kansas State (No. 11 seed) contest. If OU wins on Friday, it will play a semifinal contest Saturday at approximately 3:20 p.m. Sunday's championship game will start at 2 p.m. CST.
All of OU's Big 12 Tournament games will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The Sooners' Friday contest will be televised by ESPN Plus (KOCB Channel 34 in Oklahoma City and KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa). Saturday's semifinal contests will be televised by ESPN2. Sunday's title game will be shown nationally by ESPN.
AVERAGES OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 9.4 6.0 C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) 6.3 5.4 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 8.4 3.7 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 19.4 2.9 G 15 D. Alexander (6-5, 215, Sr.) 6.7 3.4
The Sooners' 76-71 loss to Texas on Saturday ended their 37-game home winning streak and landed them in third place in the Big 12 race with a 12-4 record. OU squandered a 15-point second-half lead and was outscored 11-0 over the game's final four minutes. Kelvin Sampson's crew finished 15-1 at Lloyd Noble Center this year and, for the fourth straight season, won at least 12 league games. Hollis Price scored a game-high 22 points and tied a career high with five steals, but poor OU free throw shooting, especially down the stretch, plagued the Sooners. Oklahoma shot .417 from the field and .565 from the foul line.
Price, named Big 12 Player of the Year this week by league media and considered a strong candidate for national player of the year, ranks second in the league with his 19.4 points per game, first in free throw percentage (.929) and second in three-pointers per game (3.0). In league games, he ranked second in scoring (20.1 ppg), first in free throw percentage (.935), first in treys per game (3.5) and second in three-point percentage (.509). Price stands in seventh place on OU's career scoring list with 1,734 points and currently ranks as the school's career leader in free throw percentage (.859). In addition to his 19.4 points per contest, he also averages 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals.
Ebi Ere ranks second on the team with his 13.6 points per outing, but has failed to reach double digits in seven of the last 15 games. The senior, who has come off the bench in four of the last seven contests, is averaging 9.7 points on .280 shooting over the last 15 outings. Point guard Quannas White is averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 4.1 assists. He has been especially good over the last 10 games, averaging 11.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting .549 from the field (39-for-71) and .585 from three-point range (24-for-41). White ranks second in the Big 12 with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio and has committed just 38 turnovers in 27 games. In Big 12 play, he led the conference with his .519 (27-for-52) three-point shooting. White scored in double figures just twice in the first 12 games but has done it in nine of the last 15 outings. Freshman guard De'Angelo Alexander has started several games of late in place of Ere and has scored in double figures in four of the last five outings. He is averaging 6.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on the season and 12.0 points, 7.0 boards and 2.7 assists over the last three games.
In the frontcourt, Kevin Bookout has emerged as one of the conference's more dependable big men. The freshman forward averages 9.4 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting a Big 12-best .573 from the field. In league games, he averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 boards while shooting a league-best .579. Jabahri Brown, a junior center who has started in 21 of his 25 games, averages 6.3 points, 5.4 boards and 1.5 rejections per outing. He is averaging 8.0 points, 6.8 boards, 2.0 assists and 1.8 blocks over the past four contests.
OKLAHOMA IN THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
The Sooners are 35-20 (.636) in conference postseason action (12-4 in six seasons of the Big 12 format). Oklahoma has participated in 11 tournament championship games, including four of the last five, and has won six crowns. OU's title last year was its second in a row. The Sooners also earned titles in 1979, 1985, 1988 and 1990. Head coach Kelvin Sampson is 13-6 in eight previous tournament appearances and has guided four squads to championship games (1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002). For more information on OU's Big Eight/Big 12 Tournament history, consult pages 154-156 of the Oklahoma media guide.
LAST YEAR IN KANSAS CITY
Last year's OU squad became the first in school history to earn a second consecutive league postseason tournament crown when it beat top-ranked Kansas at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. It was the Sooners' 11th conference tournament championship game appearance (fourth in the last five years) and sixth title. Before knocking off Kansas, No. 2 seed OU beat No. 7 seed Kansas State and No. 3 seed Texas.
Oklahoma opened tournament play with a 63-52 quarterfinals win over Kansas State. The Sooners made five of their first eight field goal attempts, including four treys on five tries, to open a 14-4 lead early. Twelve first-half turnovers and frigid shooting the remainder of the period helped K-State take a 25-24 lead at the break. Oklahoma's zone defense limited the Wildcats to .308 shooting in the second half, though, and a 14-for-20 OU free throw effort helped the Sooners pull away. The story was OU's dominance on the boards as it grabbed 54 rebounds to K-State's 30. Twenty-eight of those 54 caroms came on the offensive end of the floor. Ebi Ere notched his first career double-double with 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and added three assists. Hollis Price contributed 13 points and three steals while Aaron McGhee tallied seven points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Daryan Selvy also performed well with his seven points, seven boards and three steals. Jabahri Brown pulled down nine rebounds, his most in 12 games.
In a rematch of the 2001 Big 12 Tournament title game, McGhee scored a team-high 16 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds against Texas as OU led from start to finish in a 67-51 semifinals victory. McGhee also helped shut down Texas' inside game as James Thomas scored just one point and was limited to two field goal attempts. UT guard/forward Brandon Mouton entered the contest as the team's leading scorer but also managed just one point on 0-for-7 shooting. For the second straight night, strong three-point shooting helped OU early. The Sooners nailed six treys in the first 11:50 to take a 26-16 lead before going up 38-23 at half. An 8-2 OU run to start the second half increased the margin to 21 and Texas never got closer than 13. Ere and Jason Detrick both nailed three treys and contributed 15 points each. T.J. Ford scored a game-high 18 but was limited to two assists while committing four turnovers. He entered the game averaging 8.7 handouts per game. OU forced 22 UT turnovers and held the Horns to .375 field goal shooting.
In the title game, OU turned in one of its best defensive efforts in a 64-55 victory over the nation's highest-scoring team. Kansas entered the game averaging 93.2 points per contest but poor shooting and a rash of turnovers hurt the Jayhawks, particularly in the first half. The Sooners limited KU to .333 field goal shooting and .167 three-point shooting on the day while forcing 20 Kansas miscues. A Jeff Boschee three-pointer gave the Jayhawks an early 3-2 lead but it turned out to be their only lead. Playing without McGhee for most of the first half due to foul trouble, OU managed to build a 29-17 advantage before settling for a 29-19 halftime lead. KU shot .233 from the field in the first 20 minutes and committed 12 turnovers. The Jayhawks rallied to tie the score twice midway through the second stanza but Oklahoma wouldn't break and never fell behind. Price, the tournament MVP, scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the final 8:26 to help put the game away. Quannas White added 10 points for OU while McGhee had nine in 15 minutes before fouling out. Brown was all over the court with seven points, eight rebounds four blocks and four steals. Drew Gooden had 22 points and 15 boards for KU, but Kirk Hinrich, the team's second-leading scorer, was 0-for-10 from the field and scored four points. Kansas set season lows in points, points in a half, field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
2002 BIG 12 TOURNAMENT LEFTOVERS
OU has earned its sixth consecutive Big 12 tournament first-round bye by virtue of its third-place league finish and No. 3 seeding. The Sooners earned a No. 2 seed last year, a No. 3 seed in 2001 and 2000, a No. 4 seed in 1999 and a No. 3 seed in 1998. In the first Big 12 Tournament in 1997, OU was the No. 6 seed.
AN OKLAHOMA QUARTERFINALS WIN WOULD...
The Sooners are 20-3 in tournament play over the last three years with seven tournament trophies in their pockets. Two years ago, OU won the Sooner Invitational, the Big Island Invitational, the All-College Tournament and the Big 12 Tournament before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Last year OU went 1-1 in the Preseason NIT (lost at Michigan State), claimed the Big 12 Tournament title and went 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Oklahoma went 2-0 in the Sooner Invitational this season.
SIX STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASONS
OU's 69-64 victory at Texas A&M March 1 marked the team's 20th win of the season. The Sooners have compiled six straight 20-win campaigns under Kelvin Sampson and have won at least 22 the five years prior to this one. This marks the 21st 20-win season in school history and seventh under Sampson in nine years.
SOONERS THIS CENTURY
Over the past four seasons (starting with 1999-2000), Oklahoma has posted the second-best winning percentage in NCAA Division I (games through Sunday)...
Duke 116-19 (.859) Oklahoma 105-25 (.808) Stanford 101-24 (.808) Kansas 107-27 (.799) Gonzaga 104-27 (.794)
SAMPSON A NAISMITH AWARD FINALIST
Last year's NABC and CBS/Chevrolet National Coach of the Year, Kelvin Sampson was named one of 25 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award Feb. 26 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Other Big 12 coaches on the list are Rick Barnes (Texas), Eddie Sutton (Oklahoma State) and Roy Williams (Kansas). The winner will be honored in Atlanta on April 11. Sampson also earned national coach of the year honors in 1994-95, his first season at OU, from the AP, USBWA and Basketball Times.
Oklahoma has been exceptional from three-point range in Big 12 play and has shot .500 or better from long range seven times in the last 10 games (OU is 84-for-180 over the nine games for a .467 figure). In its first 17 games, OU shot .348 from beyond the arc. The team's season three-point mark now stands at .390, best in the Big 12. In conference games, OU led the league with a .422 figure. Quannas White has gone 24-for-41 (.585) from long range over the last 10 games while Hollis Price has drained 39-of-71 (.549) attempts over the past 11 outings.
BIG 12 DOMINANCE
Oklahoma has won 21 of its last 25 games against Big 12 opponents. The Sooners won their final five regular season games last season, earned three victories at the Big 12 Tournament, knocked off Missouri to go to the Final Four, and went 12-4 in league play this year. OU's only four losses in the last 25 outings versus league competition were a 48-46 decision at then-No. 24 Oklahoma State on Jan. 13, a 67-61 defeat at then-No. 6 Texas on Feb. 10, a 67-52 loss at Missouri on Feb. 26 and a 76-71 home defeat to then-No. 4 Texas on March 8.
OU owns winning streaks against eight of the Big 12's other 11 teams. The Sooners have won 18 straight against Baylor, eight over Texas A&M, five against Kansas State, four versus Nebraska, three versus Colorado, two against Iowa State, two against Texas Tech and two versus Kansas. OU has also won nine of its last 10 against Missouri, eight of its last 10 versus Texas and three of its last five with Oklahoma State.
104 AND COUNTING FOR PRICE
Senior guard Hollis Price picked up his 104th win in an OU uniform March 4 against Nebraska. Since he became a Sooner, Oklahoma owns a 105-25 (.808) record. Price missed last year's Texas Southern game, an Oklahoma win, so OU is 104-25 (.806) in games in which he's played. Darryl "Choo" Kennedy (1984-87) holds the school record for most victories by an individual player with 107. Tim McCalister (also 1984-87) won 106 games as a Sooner.
Only two opponents have scored more than 70 points this year as Oklahoma has held four foes to point totals in the 40s, six in the 50s and 13 in the 60s. The Sooners held their first 17 opponents to 68 points or less. The last time OU held 17 straight opponents to 68 or fewer points in a single season was the 1950-51 campaign (first 22 games of the year). On the season, OU is holding opponents to 60.7 points per game, fewest in the Big 12. The last time OU held opponents to 60.7 points per game over the course of an entire season was 1977-78 (58.2 under head coach Dave Bliss). The lowest opponent scoring average by Kelvin Sampson's Sooners was 61.9 in 1998-99, a year in which OU went to the NCAA Sweet 16.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 19.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game this year. He has passed 15 players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry, Al Beal, Mookie Blaylock, David Johnson, Terry Evans, Harvey Grant, Chucky Barnett, John McCullough, Don Sidle, Eduardo Najera and Alvan Adams) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands seventh on the career list with 1,734 points and will likely end up in that spot (Ryan Minor is sixth with 1,946). The New Orleans native also ranks first in career free throw percentage (.859), second in three-point field goals (228), second in three-point field goal attempts (578), third in minutes played (4,065), fourth in steals (212), seventh in assists (443), eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.394) and 10th in steals per game (1.6).
Price was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by league coaches and media and is also a candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards. Additionally, he picked up preseason All-America honors from Playboy. Price averaged 16.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game last year to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors, as well as third-team All-America recognition from The Sporting News. He concluded the season by earning Big 12 Tournament and NCAA West Regional MVP honors.
Senior Hollis Price attempted 99 free throws last year (2.8 per game). This year, however, Price has already attempted 127 foul shots (4.7 per game). The guard saw his school-record streak of 36 makes without a miss come to a halt Feb. 23 versus Kansas when he went 0-for-2. He bounced back with a 6-for-6 performance at Missouri the next game and has now made 77 of his last 81 tries. In addition to his streak of 36 straight makes, Price also made 27 in a row earlier in the year. He ranks first on the OU career free throw percentage chart with an .859 figure (Bo Overton shot .852 from 1980 to 1983). John Ontjes holds the OU single-season record (.867 in 1993-94).
A TOP-10 HIT
Oklahoma is ranked sixth in this week's AP poll. That makes 29 consecutive weeks that OU has appeared in the poll's top 10 (dating back to Jan. 5 last year). The Sooners were ranked No. 3 in last season's final edition and debuted in the same spot this year.
OU's senior guard trio of Ebi Ere, Hollis Price and Quannas White has accounted for 58 percent of the team's points, 63 percent of its assists and 52 percent of its steals. The three guards have also made 79 percent of OU's three-pointers on the year and 64 percent of its free throws.
HEAVY IN THE BACK(COURT)
Sooner backcourt members have scored 1,363 of the team's 1,945 points this year. That means 70 percent of OU's scoring has come from its guards. They have also registered 312 of the OU's 389 assists (80 percent).
Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson has long stressed protecting the ball and his OU squads have heeded his words over the years. The Sooners ranked second in the Big 12 last year by averaging just 11.9 turnovers per game. OU led the league in 2000-01 and 1999-00 by averaging just 12.7 and 12.8 miscues per outing, respectively. The Sooners, who only had six turnovers Jan. 13 against Oklahoma State (their fewest since committing five vs. Arizona in last year's Sweet 16) and just seven Feb. 8 versus Baylor, rank second in the Big 12 this season with only 11.6 turnovers per game. Also, OU has committed the same or fewer turnovers than its foes in 18 of 27 games this year and in 30 of the last 40 games dating back to last season.
EBI'S ROLLERCOASTER RIDE
Guard Ebi Ere had a stellar first 12 games of his senior season but has been up and down since. The 6-5, 215-pounder led the Sooners in scoring in eight of the first 12 outings and boasted an 18.4 scoring average after those 12 games. Ere has failed to reach double figures in seven of the last 15 outings, however, and is averaging 9.7 points on .280 (44-for-157) field goal and .259 (15-for-58) three-point shooting over the 15-game stretch. He now averages 13.6 points (10.4 in Big 12), 4.7 boards, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game.
THE BOOK ON BOOKOUT
True freshman Kevin Bookout was thrown to the wolves in the non-conference season, facing noted big men Erwin Dudley (Alabama), Mario Austin (Mississippi State), Aloysius Anagonye (Michigan State) and Emeka Okafor (Connecticut). The experience has seemed to pay off for the 6-8, 260-pound forward as he averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds while shooting .579 in OU's 16 conference games. He has started 26 of 27 games (yielded to Jozsef Szendrei on Senior Day) and is averaging 9.4 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds on the season, and boasts a league-best .573 mark from the field in 28.6 minutes per contest. A second-team Parade All-American last year, Bookout became just the second freshman under ninth-year OU coach Kelvin Sampson to start the first game of a season (guard Prince Fowler was the other in 1994-95).
MORE ON BOOKOUT
Kevin Bookout's 9.4 points per game marks the highest scoring average by an OU freshman since Jeff Webster's 18.3 in 1990-91. His 6.0 rebounds per outing are the most by a frosh since Ryan Humphrey's 6.5 in 1997-98 and second most since David Johnson's 6.2 in 1983-84. Bookout's scoring and rebounding numbers compare favorably to freshman figures of some of OU's top players over the last decade. Ryan Minor averaged 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 1992-93, Eduardo Najera averaged 7.0 and 5.6 in 1996-97 and Hollis Price averaged 7.2 and 2.2 in 1999-2000.
JOHNSTON ON ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM
Last week, sophomore public relations major Blake Johnston was named a first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. It marked the second straight year the guard from Midland, Texas, earned the honor. First-team members consist of players who have maintained a 3.20 or better grade-point average either cumulatively or in each of the last two semesters.
A CHARITY CASE
Oklahoma has traditionally been a sound free throw shooting team under Kelvin Sampson as seven of his previous eight squads have finished first or second in the conference in the category. Last year, the Sooners, who finished seventh nationally in free throw shooting, led the Big 12 with a .767 season mark (they shot an amazing .798 in league games) and broke the school record of .755 set in 1985-86. OU is again performing well from free throw line this season. Through 27 games, the Sooners own a .719 free throw mark, second best in the Big 12.
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has always been extremely kind to the Sooners. Oklahoma, which posted a perfect 16-0 mark at home last year and finished 15-1 this season, is 356-60 (.856) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 119-17 (.875) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and had won 37 straight before losing to Texas in the regular season finale. The 37-game home winning streak was OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was the nation's longest streak at the time. It also stands as the longest streak in Big 12 Conference history (Kansas held the previous league record with 33 straight home wins).
Oklahoma has had its share of success on the road under Kelvin Sampson with a 37-22 (.627) record in its last 59 true away contests. In Big 12 play, OU is 33-17 (.660) in its last 50 road contests. The Sooners have finished 5-3 in five of the last six seasons in conference road play and went 6-2 in 1998-99. Kansas (42-14), Oklahoma (34-22) and Texas (32-24) are the only schools with a winning road record since the Big 12 was formed.
NATION'S SECOND-LONGEST POSTSEASON STREAK
OU has participated in either the NCAA Tournament or National Invitation Tournament in each of the last 21 seasons. During that stretch the Sooners have made the NCAA field 17 times and have played in the NIT on four occasions. The 21-year streak is the second longest in the nation. OU trails only Indiana, which has made 25 straight postseason appearances.
EIGHT STRAIGHT...AND COUNTING
Oklahoma has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Kelvin Sampson's eight years in Norman. Only eight other schools have made the "Big Dance" each of the past eight seasons (Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Stanford and UCLA).
SAMPSON SIGNS STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
Oklahoma signed four high-schoolers to national letters of intent Nov. 13. The class, which includes point guard Andrew Lavender, swingman Brandon Foust, combo guard Lawrence McKenzie and post Longar Longar, has been rated as one of the nation's 10 best.
Lavender is a 5-7, 155-pounder from Brookhaven (Ohio) High School who averaged 11.0 points and 10.8 assists per game last year in leading his team to a state title. He is generally regarded as one of the country's top two or three point guards and is a top-20 national recruit. Lavender's teammate, Brandon Foust, is a 6-6, 200-pounder who averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a junior. Foust is considered one of the nation's top 60 players. The duo led Brookhaven to a 27-1 record last year.
McKenzie, 6-1 and 165, has won three state titles at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, Minn. The former teammate of current Sooner Johnnie Gilbert averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last year. He is regarded as a top-75 national recruit and appears on some analysts' top-50 lists.
Longar, a 6-10, 210-pounder originally from Sudan, averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks last year at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn. He is considered a top-50 recruit by most analysts.
"I've never been into recruiting rankings," said OU head coach Kelvin Sampson. "I look at how the players a team recruits fill the needs of that team. We will lose three starting guards after this season in Quannas White, Hollis Price and Ebi Ere. Lavender, Foust and McKenzie will not only form a great backcourt, but they're all freshmen. And Longar will be a freshman in the frontcourt. He's an investment who possesses two things you can't teach -- size and athleticism. These kids all come from great high school programs and learn from great coaches."