Dec. 28, 1999
Oklahoma (9-1) starts its third tournament of the season when it plays Mount St. Mary's (1-5) Wednesday in the opening round of the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City at approximately 8:15 p.m. CST. The game, played at the Myriad, will air on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in OKC) with Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) calling the action. The game will not be televised.
Joining Oklahoma and Mount St. Mary's in the nation's oldest tournament are Arkansas State (2-6) and Valparaiso (4-6). The latter two teams will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. The consolation game will tip off Thursday at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the championship game. Entering its 64th year, the All-College Tournament has seen the Sooners win 13 of the last 16 title trophies, including last year when OU beat Western Kentucky (72-62 in overtime) and Oral Roberts (85-69) on successive nights.
Ranked 22nd in both polls, Oklahoma looks to rebound from its first loss of the season, a 72-57 home setback to fourth-ranked Cincinnati last Wednesday. OU's .300 field goal and .219 three-point shooting marks versus the Bearcats dropped its respective season percentages to .476 and .409.
Senior forward Eduardo Najera and sophomore guard J.R. Raymond continue to lead the Sooners offensively. Najera is averaging team highs in points (18.0 ppg) and rebounds (8.0 rpg) and also averages 1.7 assists per contest. Raymond, who is shooting .479 from three-point land and also leads the Big 12 in three-pointers per game with 3.4, averages 17.5 points and a team-high 3.2 assists per game.
Junior Jameel Heywood sustained a sprained left foot against Cincinnati and is expected to miss one to two weeks of action. The forward, who averages 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, is walking with the aid of crutches.
About Mount St. Mary's
Mount St. Mary's, which finished 15-15 last year and participated in the NCAA Tournament, earned its first victory of this season when it beat Loyola (Md.), 77-60, on Dec. 18. Prior to that, the Mountaineers lost road games to La Salle (73-64), Dayton (73-51), Butler (82-55) and Wyoming (68-66), as well as a home game to Bucknell (83-69).
Senior guard Gregory Harris paces the team with his 14.8 scoring and 4.7 assist averages while senior Robert Balgac averages a team-best 7.7 rebounds per outing. Balgac registered career highs in points and rebounds in The Mount's victory with 21 points and 12 caroms. Senior center Konata Springer scored 18 points and grabbed nine boards in the triumph.
The winningest active coach in college basketball, Jim Phelan is in his 46th season at the Emmitsburg, Md., school. A 1951 graduate of La Salle, he began coaching at Mount St. Mary's in 1954 and has amassed an 801-448 (.641) record. Phelan has guided 16 Mount teams to NCAA tournaments, including five trips to the Division II Final Four and the College Division national championship in 1962.
Series with Mount St. Mary's
Oklahoma won the teams' only previous meeting, 91-67, on Dec. 19, 1994, in Norman. The Sooners, who were led by junior Ryan Minor's 28 points, shot .585 in the contest. Ernie Abercrombie, Calvin Curry and James Mayden added 12 points apiece in Kelvin Sampson's seventh game as OU head coach. The win was the Sooners' seventh to start the season.
OKLAHOMA PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||21||Eduardo Najera (6-8, 240, Sr.)||18.0||8.0||1.7|
|C||33||Renzi Stone (6-10, 250, Sr.)||4.6||3.8||2.0|
|G||10||Hollis Price (6-1, 165, Fr.)||6.1||1.1||2.7|
|G||11||J.R. Raymond (6-2, 175, So.)||17.5||3.5||3.2|
|G||14||Tim Heskett (6-1, 185, Jr.)||9.5||2.4||1.8|
MOUNT ST. MARY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||4||Robert Balgac (6-8, 205, Sr.)||9.5||7.7||0.8|
|F||23||Terrence Wilson (6-8, 185, So.)||12.7||5.3||0.7|
|C||55||Konata Springer (6-10, 245, Sr.)||11.7||5.7||0.8|
|G||11||Gregory Harris (6-3, 200, Sr.)||14.8||4.3||4.7|
|G||13||Jerry Lloyd (5-11, 165, So.)||2.2||1.0||0.8|
Oklahoma/Mount St. Mary's Statistical Comparison
|OKLAHOMA||CATEGORY||MT. ST. MARY'S|
|63.3||Opponent Points Average||73.2|
|31.1||Opponent Rebounding Average||43.5|
|.476||Field Goal Percentage||.389|
|.431||Opponent Field Goal Percentage||.431|
|.371||Opponent 3-Pt. Percentage||.350|
|.745||Free Throw Percentage||.573|
|18.4||Personal Fouls Average||20.8|
|2.0||Blocked Shots Average||3.7|
Sooners in the All-College Tournament
OU has participated in 23 All-College Tournaments, including the last 16. The Sooners own a 41-11 all-time record in the event and have claimed 15 championships. Oklahoma is 8-2 with three titles under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. For more information on the All-College Tournament, consult pages 62 and 63 of the 1999-2000 OU media guide.
Recapping the Cincinnati Contest
Fourth-ranked Cincinnati limited Oklahoma to season-low .300 field goal and .219 three-point percentages in its 72-57 defeat of the 21st-ranked Sooners last Wednesday in Norman. The Bearcats, who scored the first nine points of the game and never trailed, shot .519 from the floor and .824 (14-for-17) from the free throw line on the night. Senior center Kenyon Martin made 9-of-11 field goal attempts and paced Cincinnati with 23 points. He also collected nine rebounds and registered three blocks. Freshman guards Kenny Satterfield and Dermarr Johnson added 16 and 12 points, respectively, while Johnson's 11 rebounds tied for a game high. OU's Eduardo Najera led the team with 16 points despite a 6-for-21 effort from the field and also pulled down 11 boards. J.R. Raymond contributed 13 points while Tim Heskett added 12 thanks to 4-for-9 three-point shooting. The loss was Oklahoma's first of the year and broke the team's nine-game winning streak, its longest under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. A crowd of 13,023, the second largest in Lloyd Noble Center history, viewed the game.
Oklahoma plays its final regular season non-conference game Jan. 3 when it hosts Lamar at 7 p.m. The Sooners open Big 12 play Jan. 8 at home versus Texas A&M at 3 p.m. (televised by ESPN Regional) and then host Baylor Jan. 11 at 7 p.m (televised by Sooner Sports Network).
Sooners Burying Threes
Historically an excellent three-point shooting team under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma has done nothing to jeopardize that label so far this season. Through 10 games, the Sooners have made 90-of-220 trey attempts for a .409 mark (the school record of .414 was set in 1986-87). Sooner guards are shooting an amazing .457 on the year. Here's a look at the marks of OU's five three-point shooters:
Bucking the Trend
Entering the season, Oklahoma's points-per-game average had decreased nearly every year since the 1987-88 campaign (OU averaged 102.9 points per contest in that Final Four season). Last year, the Sooners averaged 70.2 points per game, their lowest figure since 1977-78, but this year OU is averaging 77.3 points per contest.
Najera Climbing OU Charts
Preseason All-American and John R. Wooden Award candidate Eduardo Najera has already collected a number of in-season honors with his fast start. The senior forward is averaging 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game (both team highs) and was named Top of the World Classic MVP in mid-November and was also named to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team. He also earned Big 12 Player-of-the-Week acclaim Dec. 14. Najera, who shot .415 from the field and .642 from the free throw line last year, has posted .440 and .741 marks so far this season.
The Chihuahua, Mexico, native entered the season ranked 29th in OU career scoring and 15th in career rebounding, but now ranks 21st (1,201 points) and 13th (676 rebounds). Najera needs 11 points to move into 20th place on the all-time scoring list (ahead of Corey Brewer) and 19 points to move into the 19th slot (ahead of Bobby Jack). In 10 games this season, he has already passed Cary Carrabine (1,034 points), Scott Martin (1,078), Joe King (1,085), Damon Patterson (1,099), Terry Stotts (1,104), Willie Rogers (1,153), Brent Price (1,173) and Lester Lane (1,180) in career scoring.
Raymond One of League's Top Newcomers
Sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond, who sat out his freshman season as a partial qualifier, ranks second on the team and seventh in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5 ppg). He also averages a Big 12-best 3.4 three-pointers per game and leads OU in assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.5 spg). Raymond has made a team-high 34 three-pointers on 71 attempts (.479). He is shooting .471 from the field and .871 from the charity stripe.
In his collegiate debut versus Montana State Nov. 19 in Fairbanks, Alaska, Raymond made 9-of-16 field goal attempts, including 5-of-9 three-point tries, and finished with a game-high 29 points. He also contributed six rebounds and five assists in the 91-76 victory and went on to earn Top of the World Classic All-Tournament Team honors. Raymond's 29-point outburst is believed to be the second-highest scoring total by a Sooner in his collegiate debut. In 1972, center Alvan Adams scored 38 points and collected a school-record 28 rebounds against Indiana State in his first-ever game.
Heskett Dependable with the Ball
Tim Heskett, who averages 26.1 minutes per game, has committed just four turnovers this season. That's an average of one turnover every 65 minutes. He has not committed a turnover in the team's last three games and has two turnovers to his credit in the last eight games (196 minutes). Heskett ranks third on the team with a 9.5 points-per-game scoring average and ranks third in the Big 12 with 2.7 three-point makes per contest.
Stone Racks Up Assists
Senior Renzi Stone, one of the best passing big men in the Big 12, has been doling out assists at a rapid rate. The center has 10 assists in his last three games. Stone has recorded four or more assists three times this season and racked up a career-high six in just 12 minutes of action against Georgia Southern Dec. 18. He ranks third on the team with 20 assists (2.0 per game) and owns a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio.
Freshman Price Inserted Into Starting Lineup
True freshman Hollis Price has started each of the team's last two games. In OU's last six contests, the guard from New Orleans is averaging 25.0 minutes, 7.7 points, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals. Price is shooting .514 (19-for-37) from the field this season, .412 (7-for-17) from three-point land and .762 from the foul line. He also sports a solid 2.1 assist/turnover ratio.
Big 12 Begins Season in Fine Fashion
Heading into Tuesday, Big 12 schools have posted an 85-31 (.733) cumulative record. Three squads have captured neutral-court tournament crowns: Oklahoma won the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska (beat Montana State, George Washington and California), Kansas won the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska (beat Georgia, Xavier and Georgia Tech), and Texas won the Puerto Rico Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico (beat Arizona State, DePaul and Michigan State). Iowa State finished second at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii, losing only to Cincinnati in the title game.
Four Big 12 teams are ranked in both major polls. In the AP poll, Kansas (9-2) is ranked 10th, Oklahoma State (10-0) is 11th, Texas (6-3) is 18th and Oklahoma (9-1) is 22nd. In the ESPN/USA Today poll, Kansas is ranked 10th, Oklahoma State is 11th, Texas is 15th and Oklahoma is 22nd.
- In five-plus years under Coach Sampson, the Sooners are 66-8 (.892) when scoring 80 or more points and are53-2 (.964) when scoring at least 80 points at home.
- Oklahoma has been outrebounded just twice in its 10 games (vs. Mississippi and Cincinnati).
- OU has committed fewer turnovers than its opponents in all but one game (vs. George Washington).
- J.R. Raymond is averaging 3.4 three-point makes per game (ranks first in Big 12) and is shooting .479 from beyond the arc (ranks fifth). He has made multiple treys in all 10 games and at least three three-pointers in eight contests.
- Twenty-seven of Tim Heskett's 30 field goal conversions have been three-pointers while all 17 of Kelley Newton's field goal makes have been treys. Newton ranks second in the Big 12 with his .586 three-point percentage.
- The Sooners are shooting .476 from the field this season. Last year OU shot .421 from the field.
- Heskett has committed just four turnovers this season in 261 total minutes. That's an average of one every 65 minutes.
- The Sooners are averaging 9.0 three-point makes per game. Last season, OU set a school record with its 8.6 treys per outing.
- In his last six games, Eduardo Najera is averaging 7.1 free throw attempts.
Model of Consistency
Oklahoma has registered a winning record in 22 of its last 23 seasons. No other Big 12 team can boast as many winning campaigns since the 1975-76 season as the Sooners. OU has posted a 504-232 record over the span for a .685 winning percentage.
OU Boasts Nation's Fourth-Longest Postseason Streak
Oklahoma has now made 18 consecutive postseason appearances (14 NCAA and four NIT), the fourth-longest streak among Division I programs. Only North Carolina, Georgetown and Indiana own longer postseason streaks (North Carolina and Indiana made last year's NCAA field while Georgetown competed in the NIT). The last time Oklahoma did not compete in the postseason was in 1980-81. The four longest current postseason streaks are as follows:
3MICHAEL CANO (6-1, 170, SO., GUARD)
- A walk-on who played in eight games last season.
- Scored his first career points with a last-minute basket against Arkansas-Little Rock Dec. 11.
5NOLAN JOHNSON (6-4, 215, JR., GUARD)
- Started the first eight games and is averaging 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting .509 from the field.
- Earned second-team junior college All-America honors as a sophomore two years ago.
- Played at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College but wrapped up academic requirements at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
- Named Brooklyn (N.Y.) Player of the Year as a high school senior.
10HOLLIS PRICE (6-1, 165, FR., GUARD)
- Averaging 7.7 points, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals over last six games (started last two).
- Regarded as one of the country's 50 best high school seniors last year at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.
- Earned first-team All-State and New Orleans Metro Player-of-the-Year honors as a senior when he averaged 25.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
- Hit game-winning shot in 1998 17-and-under AAU national championship game and was named tournament MVP.
11J.R. RAYMOND (6-2, 175, SO., GUARD)
- Poured in 29 points in first collegiate game Nov. 19.
- Ranks first on team in minutes (34.7 mpg), assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.5 spg), and second in scoring (17.5 ppg).
- Earned Big 12 Rookie-of-the-Week honor Dec. 14.
- Named Sooner Holiday Classic MVP after averaging 18.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest.
- Practiced with the team under "partial qualifier" label last year, but was not allowed to play in games.
14TIM HESKETT (6-1, 185, JR., GUARD)
- Averaging 2.7 three-point makes per game (ranks third in Big 12) and just 0.4 turnovers per outing.
- Set single-season OU record with his .473 three-point mark last year and is the career leader in three-point percentage (.422).
- Ranked second in the Big 12 in three-point percentage and in three-pointers per game (2.5) last year.
- Shot .529 (27-for-51) from three-point land over last 11 games.
- Made 7-of-9 three-pointers and scored a career-high 23 points versus Western Carolina in third game of last season.
20KELLEY NEWTON (6-2, 190, JR., GUARD)
- All 17 of his baskets have been three-pointers.
- Shooting .654 from three-point land to rank second in Big 12.
- Tore ACL and MCL in his left knee during Oct. 31, 1998, scrimmage and missed the entire season (had surgery Nov. 20).
- Averaged 17.7 points and shot .448 from beyond the arc as a sophomore in junior college.
21EDUARDO NAJERA (6-8, 240, SR., FORWARD)
- A preseason Playboy All-American who was named Top of the World Classic MVP and to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.
- Averaging 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.8 blocks.
- Ranks 21st on OU's all-time scoring list with 1,201 points.
- Averaged team highs in points (15.5) and rebounds (8.3), and ranked second in assists (2.2) and steals (1.8) last year.
- Averaged 18.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in first two NCAA Tournament rounds to lead OU to Sweet 16.
22OLEG REZTSOV (7-2, 230, SR., CENTER)
- Scored four points in five minutes of action in first exhibition game this year.
- Played a total of 22 minutes in nine games last year.
- Is the tallest player in school history.
- Maintains his own web site (http://i.am/sooner).
30JARRETT HART (6-3, 210, FR., GUARD)
- A first-team All-State selection at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., last year.
- Led team to 6A state title and was named tournament MVP.
- Averaged 17.4 points, 8.5 boards and 7.3 assists as a senior.
- Helped Arkansas Hawks AAU team to national title over the summer.
32VICTOR AVILA (6-10, 255, SR., CENTER)
- Averaging 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
- Averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game last year (15.0 points and 13.4 rebounds per 40 minutes).
- Tied career highs with 17 points and 12 rebounds versus Georgia Southern Dec. 18 and had career-high four assists.
- A second-team junior college All-American who averaged 23.7 points, 15.3 boards and 2.8 blocks per contest in 1997-98.
33RENZI STONE (6-10, 250, SR., FORWARD/CENTER)
- Has started all 10 games and is averaging 4.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per outing.
- A starter in 18 games a year ago who averaged 3.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest while shooting a team-high .531 from the field.
- Grabbed at least four rebounds 17 times last year.
- One of seven OU students nominated this past September for a Rhodes Scholarship.
- Has missed just one game during his Sooner career.
34JAMEEL HEYWOOD (6-6, 220, JR., FORWARD)
- Shooting team-high .677 from field and averaging 4.8 rebounds despite playing just 16.9 minutes per contest.
- Transferred from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.
- A second-team All-Jayhawk Conference selection as a freshman and sophomore (averaged 17.0 points both seasons).
- Named the 1995 Bronx (N.Y.) Player of the Year as a junior at Evander Childs High School.
- Voted 1996 New England Player of the Year at Salisbury(Conn.) Prep School.