Nov. 8, 2002
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Ranked third in the initial ESPN/USA Today poll, Oklahoma begins its 2002-03 season with an exhibition game against the Global Sports All-Stars Saturday at 7 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center. The game will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Ed Murray (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The contest will not be televised.
Tickets are still available and are $10, $15 or $20 depending on location. OU students will be admitted free at the west entrance with a valid school ID. Tickets may be purchased at the game or by calling (800)456-4668 during regular business hours. A limited number of season tickets are also still available and can be purchased from the OU Ticket Office.
The Sooners, who began preseason conditioning in early September and held their first practice on Oct. 12, are ready to hit the hardwood. Oklahoma returns 10 players from its 2001-02 roster, four of them starters. OU is coming off a 31-5 campaign that included a second-place Big 12 regular season finish, a second consecutive Big 12 Tournament title and the school's fourth Final Four appearance. The 31 wins tied as the second most in single-season school history.
Leading the Sooner charge to a repeat Final Four trip will be senior All-America candidate Hollis Price. The 6-1 guard has been named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by both league coaches and media and is a Wooden and Naismith Awards candidate. Price averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game last year to go along with 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per outing. He was the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA West Regional MVP last March.
Senior wing Ebi Ere earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year acclaim last year from both coaches and media and, like Price, was named to this year's preseason list of 50 Wooden Award candidates. Ere averaged 14.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals per contest last year en route to earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
Senior point guard Quannas White was a member of the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team last season who led the Sooners in assists in 27 of 36 games. A starter in 33 outings, White averaged 7.6 points, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting .408 from three-point range.
A junior center, Jabahri Brown should contribute more this season following the departure of post Aaron McGhee last year. Brown, who started in 24 of his 30 games last season, averaged 4.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.2 steals per game. He is the team's second-leading returning rebounder and received votes for the Preseason All-Big 12 Team by conference media.
OU's fifth starter is expected to be freshman forward Kevin Bookout. A second-team Parade All-American last season at Stroud High School, Bookout was labeled "Mr. Basketball" by The Oklahoman after averaging 30.6 points, 16.2 rebounds, 4.0 blocked shots and 2.1 steals per game. He shot an amazing .843 from the field and .706 (12-for-17) from three-point range. Bookout was rated by a national recruiting analyst as the nation's 10th-best high school senior.
MORE ON OKLAHOMA
Besides the four returning starters, the Sooners also welcome back five players who saw action last year. Heading the list is Jason Detrick, a member of the Big 12 All-Reserve Team after averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Joining Detrick as a backcourt member is sophomore Blake Johnston. The reserve point guard averaged 1.7 points and 1.2 assists in 7.9 minutes per contest.
In the frontcourt, senior post Jozsef Szendrei averaged 1.4 points and 2.4 boards in 8.0 minutes per game. He started in four outings. Sophomore forward Johnnie Gilbert played in six games before missing the remainder of the season with hip and shoulder injuries. Vastly improved since last season, Gilbert averaged 4.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his six contests a year ago (five of them starts). Sophomore foward Michael Liggett played just 20 minutes last season and scored two points. The walk-on saw action in 12 games.
Seeking their first action in OU uniforms will be redshirt freshman Matt Gipson and newcomers De'Angelo Alexander, Larry Turner and Ezra Zoschke. Gipson is a 6-9 forward who is a former Texas All-State honoree. He has impressed coaches at various points this preseason. Alexander was one of the country's most coveted high school guards last season at Midwest City High School and was a consensus top-50 national recruit. Turner is a physical 6-11 big-body who could be headed for a redshirt campaign. Zoschke transferred to OU after playing at Hesston (Kan.) Junior College the last two years. He is a walk-on.
ABOUT GLOBAL SPORTS
The Global Sports All-Stars will bring a 1-3 record with them to Norman. The traveling squad opened Nov. 2 with an 80-56 loss at Providence before squeaking out a 77-76 win at Southern Utah on Tuesday. The All-Stars dropped an 80-71 decision at UNLV on Wednesday and lost 87-74 at Nevada on Thursday.
Global Sports is led by forward George Banks, a former UTEP Miner. Banks did not play in the All-Stars' opener at Providence but is averaging 22.7 points,7.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in his three games. He had a double-double against UNLV Wednesday with 22 points and 12 boards. The 6-8 forward was a second-round NBA Draft pick (46th overall) by the Miami Heat in 1995.
Another 6-8 forward, Daniel Watts is averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in Global Sports' four games. Watts played collegiately at Nevada. Guard Phil Handy, who attended Hawaii, averages 7.5 points and a team-high 3.8 assists. Big 12 alumni on the Global Sports roster include Nebraska's Cary Cochran (8.3 points and 1.5 assists) and Texas' Fredie Williams (4.0 points and 3.5 assists).
The All-Stars are shooting .402 from the field, .329 from three-point range and .667 from the free throw line. Turnovers have been an issue for Global Sports as the squad is averaging 21.0 miscues per outing. Rebounding had been a strength prior to the team's loss at Nevada when Global was outboarded 47-25. The All-Stars are now averaging 36.8 boards per game compared to their opponents' 40.8.
Maury Hanks coaches the All-Stars and is assisted by Clay Moser.
Despite a narrow 80-78 loss to Global Sports two seasons ago in OU's only previous meeting against the traveling team, the Sooners have compiled an impressive exhibition record over the last 14 years. Oklahoma has won its opening exhibition game the last 14 seasons and has been the victor in 28 of its last 29 exhibition affairs. Under Kelvin Sampson, OU is 15-1 in exhibition games.
Last year the Sooners won their exhibition opener against Athletes First inside the McCasland Field House, 86-78. Hollis Price scored 20 points to lead all scorers while Aaron McGhee and Ebi Ere added 19 apiece. Four days later inside Lloyd Noble Center, OU knocked off EA Sports by an 85-56 count. Jason Detrick and Daryan Selvy netted 16 points each to pace the Sooners while Price, Ere and McGhee contributed 15, 13 and 12, respectively. Ere also hauled in 13 boards for a double-double.
PRESEASON BIG 12 PREDICTIONS
In the annual preseason Big 12 media poll released Tuesday, Oklahoma was picked to finish second in the league race behind Kansas. OU received 10 of the 27 first-place votes. Big 12 coaches also picked the Sooners to finish second behind the Jayhawks. The two polls looked similar:
BIG 12 MEDIA POLL
Team (first-place votes)
1. Kansas (16)
2. Oklahoma (10)
3. Texas (1)
5. Texas Tech
6. Oklahoma State
7. Iowa State
11. Kansas State
12. Texas A&M
BIG 12 COACHES POLL
Team (first-place votes)
1. Kansas (7)
2. Oklahoma (3)
3. Texas (2)
5. Texas Tech
6. Oklahoma State
7. Iowa State
11. Kansas State
12. Texas A&M
OKLAHOMA IN NATIONAL PUBLICATIONS
The Sooners are ranked third nationally in the season's first ESPN/USA Today top-25 coaches poll. Third seems to be the preseason ranking of choice for OU as seven of the nine magazine or Internet publications listed below have the Sooners in that slot:
Basketball News (3)
Street and Smith's (3)
The Sporting News (3)
OU OPENS REGULAR SEASON NOV. 14 VERSUS ALABAMA
Oklahoma will begin its 2002-03 regular season next Thursday inside New York's Madison Square Garden against Alabama in the AT&T Wireless Classic, an eight-team event that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer. The third-ranked Sooners will take on the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide at approximately 8:15 p.m. CST, after the Memphis-Syracuse contest. Alabama returns four starters from its 2001-02 Southeastern Conference championship squad that finished 27-8 overall and 12-4 in the league. Senior forward/center Erwin Dudley was last year's SEC Player of the Year while guard Mo Williams was the conference's Freshman of the Year.
The Oklahoma football team already knocked off Alabama this year in Norman, 37-27, on Sept. 7.
The two other AT&T Wireless Classic games will be played on Friday with Marquette facing Villanova in the first contest and Georgia meeting Texas in the nightcap. The Sooners will play their second and final exhibition game of the year on Sunday, Nov. 17 against Athletes First at 3 p.m. inside Lloyd Noble Center.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price already ranks 22nd on the school's all-time scoring chart. If he duplicates last year's 577-point performance this season, Price will wind up seventh on the career scoring list. The New Orleans native also ranks third in career free throw percentage (.826), sixth in three-point field goal attempts (.398), seventh in three-point field goals (147), eighth in minutes played (3,155), eighth in steals (170), ninth in assists (366) and ninth in steals per game (1.7). Price was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by league coaches and media and is also considered a strong preseason 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 and third-team All-America recognition from The Sporting News. He shot .382 from three-point range and .838 from the foul line. He wrapped up the season by earning Big 12 Tournament and NCAA West Regional MVP honors.
Said OU head coach Kelvin Sampson, "To me, he's our heart and soul. Hollis embodies what we want in a Sooner basketball player. The way he practices, the way he carries himself off the court, the way he performs in the classroom, his effort and his pride are impressive. There are very few things in the future that I dread, but I can honestly tell you that I'm really, really dreading senior night. I'm going to really enjoy every minute I'm with Hollis this year because I don't know when I'll get another one like him."
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has always been extremely kind to the Sooners, and last season was no different. Oklahoma, which posted a perfect 16-0 mark at home last year, is 341-59 (.853) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 104-16 (.867) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 22 straight. The 22-game home winning streak is OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s and ranks as the nation's sixth-longest current skein.
OU BOASTS 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.
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Oklahoma has registered a winning record in 25 of its last 26 seasons. No other Big 12 team can boast as many winning campaigns since the 1975-76 season as the Sooners. OU has posted a 588-251 (.701) record over the past 26 years.
A CHARITY CASE
Oklahoma has traditionally been a sound free throw shooting team under Kelvin Sampson as seven of his 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 boasted four of the Big 12's top 10 free throw shooters in Hollis Price (4th), Aaron McGhee (5th), Jason Detrick (6th) and Ebi Ere (10th). The quartet combined for an .820 season figure (415-for-506) and shot .843 in league contests (219-for-271). In its five NCAA Tournament games the Sooners posted an .802 free throw mark (97-for-121). The Sooners also paced the league in 2000-01 with a .740 season mark.
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).
THE LAST THREE YEARS
Over the last three seasons, Oklahoma has amassed an 84-19 (.816) record, good for the nation's fourth best winning percentage and fourth most wins during the span:
By Winning Percentage
1. Duke (.880)
2. Cincinnati (.825)
3. Stanford (.821)
4. Oklahoma (.816)
1. Duke (95-13)
2. Cincinnati (85-18)
2. Tulsa (85-23)
4. Oklahoma (84-19)
UNDER KELVIN SAMPSON...