Jan. 28, 2003
Ranked sixth in this week's AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Oklahoma (13-3 overall, 4-1 Big 12) will host unranked Texas A&M (10-5, 2-2) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center. The first of two regular season matchups between the teams will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City, KFAQ 1170 AM in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The matcup will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) announcing.
A limited number of $20 upper-level tickets are still available for Tuesday's game and can be purchased at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (325-2424 or 800-456-4668). They will also be available at Lloyd Noble Center before the game.
AVERAGES TEXAS A&M PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 2 Keith Bean (6-8, 265, Sr.) 6.5 4.6 F 14 Tomas Ress (7-0, 230, Jr.) 4.3 2.3 G 21 Antoine Wright (6-7, 195, Fr.) 16.9 7.5 G 24 Bradley Jackson (5-11, 185, Sr.) 3.3 1.1 G 32 Bernard King (6-5, 195, Sr.) 17.0 3.6
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 10.0 6.2 C 32 Johnnie Gilbert (6-8, 230, So.) 4.2 5.2 G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) 15.4 5.4 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 6.8 3.8 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 18.7 2.8
STATISTICAL COMPARISON Category Oklahoma Texas A&M Overall Record 13-3 10-5 Big 12 Record 4-1 2-2 Points Per Game 72.2 75.1 Opponent Points Per Game 58.7 70.9 Rebounds Per Game 38.5 37.6 Opponent Rebounds Per Game 32.0 40.0 Field Goal Pct. .445 .447 Opponent Field Goal Pct. .406 .419 3-Point Pct. .351 .387 Opponent 3-Point Pct. .350 .306 Free Throw Pct. .728 .678 Personal Fouls Per Game 18.1 19.1 Assists Per Game 14.4 17.9 Turnovers Per Game 11.6 15.5 Blocked Shots Per Game 3.3 1.9 Steals Per Game 8.4 6.0
A winner of three straight and seven of its last eight, Oklahoma will return to Norman to defend the nation's longest homecourt winning streak after taking care of Baylor on the road Saturday, 67-54. The Sooners have won 32 straight at Lloyd Noble Center and haven't lost in the building since Feb. 7, 2001 (69-61 to Kansas). Saturday's victory was Kelvin Sampson's 200th at OU. Freshman forward Kevin Bookout scored a career-high 18 points and had nine rebounds while senior Hollis Price recorded 17 points, five rebounds and five assists to help improve the Sooners' Big 12 record to 4-1. Johnnie Gilbert replaced Jabahri Brown in the starting lineup and produced seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Brown injured the patellar tendon in his left knee during warm-ups and did not play. The junior will miss Tuesday's game so he can attend a friend's funeral in the Virgin Islands. He will return to Norman on Thursday and his status for Saturday's game at Kansas State is uncertain.
Price, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, ranks third in the league with his 18.7 points per game, first in free throw percentage (.929) and sixth in three-pointers per game (2.6). In league games, he ranks fourth in scoring (19.2 ppg), first in free throw percentage (.950) and third in treys per game (3.4). With his 17 points Saturday, he moved into 10th place on OU's career scoring list (1,508 points). In addition to his 18.7 points, he also averages 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.
Thanks to four straight single-digit scoring efforts (six, five, seven and seven points), Ebi Ere's scoring average has dropped from 18.5 before the Oklahoma State game to 15.4 now. He is 9-for-48 (.188) from the field over the last four games. Ere shot .504 from the field over OU's first 10 games but is shooting .260 since. White, the team's third starting senior guard, is averaging 6.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists. He leads the Big 12 with a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio and averages just 1.1 turnovers per game. White has scored in double figures in three of the last four games (he did it twice over the first 12 games) and is averaging 5.8 boards over the brief stretch.
In the frontcourt, Bookout has emerged as one of the conference's better big men over the past few weeks. He averages 10.0 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best .581 from the field. In league games, however, Bookout is averaging 13.8 points and 8.0 boards while shooting .608 from the field (second in the Big 12). He earned conference rookie-of-the-week honors last week.
ABOUT TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M, which finished with a 9-22 record last year (3-13 Big 12/last place), has already won more games this season than last. The Aggies moved to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in league play with Saturday's 79-66 home win over Kansas State. The 15-game start is the program's best since the 1993-94 season. A&M is averaging 75.1 points per game while allowing 70.9. The Aggies rank second in the Big 12 in assists per game (17.9) but rank 11th in rebounding margin (-2.4).
Senior guard Bernard King ranks sixth in the Big 12 with his 17.0 points per game and third with 6.1 assists. He needs just 10 points to become A&M's career leader and 62 to break the Big 12 career record. King posted a double-double Saturday with 18 points and 11 assists. One of the country's top freshmen, guard/forward Antoine Wright is averaging 16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and had 24 points, 11 boards and four assists against Kansas State. Junior guard Kevin Turner ranks third on the team with his 9.0 points per game, but is averaging 5.0 in conference play. Senior forward Keith Bean averages 6.1 points.
In his fifth year at Texas A&M, head coach Melvin Watkins is 49-82 (.374). He coached UNC Charlotte to a 42-20 (.677) record over two years prior to moving to A&M.
TEXAS A&M SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma leads the overall series with Texas A&M, 17-1, and is a perfect 8-0 in Norman. Kelvin Sampson is 12-1 against the Aggies as OU's head coach and is 6-0 at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have won the last six meetings, with A&M's only win coming in the 1998-99 season in College Station, 74-72, on a buzzer-beater. Last year, OU posted an 89-63 win in Norman Jan. 5 as Aaron McGhee led six Sooners in double figures with 22 points on 9-of-13 field goal shooting. Daryan Selvy added 18 off the bench. In the Feb. 9 rematch, McGhee and Quannas White both posted double-doubles in a 68-64 OU win. McGhee had a game-high 21 points and 10 boards while White had 12 points, a career-high 12 assists and one turnover. Andy Slocum led A&M in the first meeting with 22 points while Nick Anderson scored 19 in the second.
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 is 10-0 this season, is 351-59 (.856) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 114-16 (.877) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 32 straight. The 32-game home winning streak is OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is the nation's second longest current streak (BYU has won 44 straight).
SAMPSON'S SUCCESS VS. STATE OF TEXAS
Oklahoma owns an impressive 65-9 (.878) record against teams from the state of Texas under Kelvin Sampson. Against Big 12 foes Baylor (15-0), Texas (14-3), Texas A&M (12-1) and Texas Tech (9-5), OU is 50-9 (.847) under Sampson. The Sooners are 3-0 against Texas schools this year.
Oklahoma has played 16 games this season and, remarkably, only two opponents have registered more assists than turnovers. Princeton (13 assists, 10 turnovers) did it in the third game of the season and Texas Tech (12 assists, 9 turnovers) did it Jan. 20. OU foes have recorded 76 more turnovers than assists this season (difference of 4.8 per game). Opponents sport a 0.68 assist-to-turnover ratio while the Sooners own a considerably-more lavish 1.24 figure.
Alabama opened the season with 68 points against the Sooners, the highest figure surrendered by OU this year. Oklahoma has held two opponents to point totals in the 40s, five in the 50s and nine in the 60s. The last time OU held 16 straight opponents to 68 points or less in a single season was the 1950-51 campaign (first 22 games of the year). In the last 12 games, Sooner foes are averaging a mere 56.7 points. On the season, OU is holding opponents to 58.7 points per game, fewest in the Big 12. The last time OU held opponents to 58.7 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, the year OU went to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Over the last 12 games, Oklahoma has limited opponents to a collective .383 field goal mark (243-for-635), dropping the team's field goal percentage defense figure from .480 prior to the Hartford game to .406 now. Also, OU averaged just 1.0 blocked shot in its first four contests but is averaging 3.7 over its last 12 games.
Senior Hollis Price attempted 99 free throws last year (2.8 per game). This year, however, Price has already attempted 85 foul shots (5.3 per game). He has made 39-of-41 free throws over the last seven games and 38 of his last 39 tries. Price had a streak of 27 consecutive makes snapped at Oklahoma State Jan. 13 (Ryan Minor holds the school record with 30 consecutive makes during the 1995-96 season). Price leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally with his .929 season free throw mark and ranks second on the OU career free throw percentage chart with an .850 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 moved up to No. 6 in Monday's AP poll. That makes it 23 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 starting guard trio of Ebi Ere, Hollis Price and Quannas White undoubtedly forms one of the nation's top backcourts. The threesome has accounted for 57 percent of the team's points, 66 percent of its assists and 48 percent of its steals. The three guards have also made 75 percent of OU's three-pointers on the year and 66 percent of its free throws.
HEAVY IN THE BACK(COURT)
Sooner backcourt members have scored 784 of the team's 1,142 points this year. That means 69 percent of OU's scoring has come from its guards. The guards have also registered 192 of the team's 230 assists (83 percent).
OU BOARDING SCHOOL
Since being outrebounded by Alabama (38-32) and UC Irvine (31-29) in their first two games of the year, the Sooners have posted an average rebounding margin of +8.1. Oklahoma registered a season-high 52 boards against Colorado Jan. 11 and outboarded Baylor on Saturday by a 40-22 count. On the season, Oklahoma is outrebounding its opponents by a 6.5 margin per game.
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 (its fewest since commiting five vs. Arizona in last year's Sweet 16) rank first 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 13 of 16 games.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 18.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. He has already passed 12 players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry, Al Beal, Mookie Blaylock, David Johnson, Terry Evans, Harvey Grant, Chucky Barnett and John McCullough) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands 10th on the career list with 1,508 points and needs 40 points to tie Don Sidle for ninth. 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 second in career free throw percentage (.850), third in three-point field goals (189), third in three-point field goal attempts (506), fourth in minutes played (3,670), fifth in steals (191), seventh in assists (420) 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 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.
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."
ERE COOLS AFTER HOT START
Guard Ebi Ere had a stellar start to his senior season but has cooled considerably the last four games. The 6-5, 215-pounder led the Sooners in scoring in eight of the first 12 games and boasted a 18.4 scoring average after those first 12 contests. Over the past four games, however, Ere has averaged 6.3 points on a combined 9-for-48 (.188) field goal shooting. He has also made 2-of-16 three-point tries over the past four games. He now averages 15.4 points (9.0 in Big 12 play), 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per outing. Last year, Ere experienced a three-game single-digit scoring slump (averaged 6.7 points) in early February.
THE BOOK ON BOOKOUT
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 is averaging 13.8 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds while shooting .608 in OU's five conference games. Over the past four games, Bookout has averaged 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting a remarkable .651 (28-for-43). He has started all 16 games and is averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds on the season, and boasts a .581 mark from the field in 29.2 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 10.0 points per game marks the highest scoring average by an OU freshman since Jeff Webster's 18.3 in 1990-91. His 6.2 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.
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 off to a great free throw shooting start this season. Through 16 games, the Sooners own a .728 free throw mark, second best in the Big 12.
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."
OU SECURES BEST PRESEASON AP RANKING
OU's No. 3 preseason AP ranking marked its highest ever to start a season. The Sooners' previous best AP ranking heading into a season was No. 5, in both 1984-85 and 1988-89. Oklahoma finished both of those seasons ranked No. 4 in the AP poll under head coach Billy Tubbs.
OU RANKED NO. 1 BY ESPN.COM
ESPN.com ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason power poll Nov. 13. Oklahoma is in front of No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Florida. Said ESPN.com's Jay Bilas, "The Sooners are the toughest and hardest nosed team in the nation. Kelvin Sampson has a durable and resilient group that is deep and athletic, and has embraced Sampson's style of playing smashmouth basketball on both ends of the floor. Oklahoma sends four athletes to the offensive glass, rebounds the ball with ferocity, gets into your chest and defends with an aggressive and physical demeanor, and has the mental make-up to win the national championship."
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.
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).
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.
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 ENTERING 2002-03...