Aug. 13, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. - University of Oklahoma Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione released the 27-game 2002-03 men's basketball regular season schedule today, a slate Head Coach Kelvin Sampson says is the Sooners' most challenging since his arrival in Norman in 1994.

"This is the toughest schedule we've assembled in my nine years here," said Sampson, who directed OU to a 31-5 record, a Big 12 Tournament championship and a Final Four appearance last year. "As a team, we have to get better and this schedule will help us do just that. It's a very difficult schedule, but we feel we'll be up to the challenge."

Highlighting Oklahoma's non-conference schedule is a season-opening contest against Alabama (Nov. 14) in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York City, a Sugar Bowl Classic matchup against Mississippi State (Dec. 28) in New Orleans, a tilt with Michigan State (Jan. 4) in the Touchstone Energy All-College Classic inside Oklahoma City's new Ford Center and a home game against Connecticut (Jan. 7).

The Sooners will host the Sooner Invitational Nov. 22 and 23 at Lloyd Noble Center and will face Western Michigan on the first night of action. OU will play either UC Irvine or Princeton on the second night. Other non-conference opponents include Prairie View A&M (Nov. 30), Hartford (Dec. 7), Coppin State (Dec. 14), Georgia State (Dec. 21) and UNC Asheville (Dec. 30).

"Alabama, Mississippi State, Michigan State and Connecticut will all be highly ranked," said Sampson, "maybe in the top 10. And the strength of our league punctuates the difficulty of our schedule. From top to bottom, the Big 12 will be the toughest conference in college basketball."

In a highly competitive Big 12 slate of games, OU will host Colorado (Jan. 11), Texas Tech (Jan. 20), Texas A&M (Jan. 28), Baylor (Feb. 8), Oklahoma State (Feb. 19), Kansas (Feb. 23), Nebraska (March 5) and Texas (March 8). The Sooners will travel for league games at Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri and Texas A&M.

Games slated for national television include the Alabama (ESPN2), Michigan State (ESPN) and Connecticut (ESPN) affairs, and contests at Oklahoma State (ESPN), vs. Texas Tech (ESPN), at Texas (ESPN), vs. Kansas (CBS) and vs. Texas (ABC). Seven other Big 12 matchups are set to be televised regionally by ESPN Plus.

Nine teams on OU's schedule -- Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech -- competed in last year's NCAA Tournament. Kansas advanced to the Final Four, Connecticut and Missouri made it to the Elite Eight while Texas was a Sweet 16 participant. Three other teams -- Georgia State, Princeton and UC Irvine -- were members of last year's NIT field.

Oklahoma plays its first exhibition game Nov. 9 against Global Sports at Lloyd Noble Center and will host Athletes First in a second exhibition game Nov. 17. The Sooners will defend their Big 12 Tournament title March 13-16 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

2002-03 Men's Basketball Schedule

Date         Opponent
Nov. 9       GLOBAL SPORTS (Exhibition)
Nov. 14      #vs. Alabama
Nov. 17      ATHLETES FIRST (Exhibition)
Nov. 22      $WESTERN MICHIGAN
Nov. 23      $UC IRVINE or PRINCETON
Nov. 30      PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
Dec. 7       HARTFORD
Dec. 14      COPPIN STATE
Dec. 21      GEORGIA STATE
Dec. 28      %vs. Mississippi State
Dec. 30      UNC ASHEVILLE
Jan. 4       ^vs. Michigan State
Jan. 7       CONNECTICUT
Jan. 11      COLORADO
Jan. 13      at Oklahoma State
Jan. 18      at Iowa State
Jan. 20      TEXAS TECH
Jan. 25      at Baylor
Jan. 28      TEXAS A&M
Feb. 1       at Kansas State
Feb. 8       BAYLOR
Feb. 10      at Texas
Feb. 15      at Texas Tech
Feb. 19      OKLAHOMA STATE
Feb. 23      KANSAS
Feb. 26      at Missouri
March 1      at Texas A&M
March 5      NEBRASKA
March 8      TEXAS
March 13-16  at Big 12 Tournament (Dallas, Texas)

# Coaches vs. Cancer Classic -- New York, N.Y. $ Sooner Invitational -- Norman, Okla. % Sugar Bowl Classic -- New Orleans, La. ^ Touchstone Energy All-College Classic -- Oklahoma City, Okla.