Oklahoma Men's Basketball Prepares For Big Game Against Mississippi

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 03, 1999

Dec. 3, 1999

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NORMAN, Okla. -- It's a battle of unbeatens as 5-0 Oklahoma hosts 6-0 Mississippi Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center. The game will be broadcast on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City). Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) will call the action. The contest will also be televised locally by the Sooner Sports Network (NewsNow 53 in Oklahoma City and TCI Cable in Tulsa). Dean Blevins (play-by-play) and Charlie Spoonhour (analyst) will announce.

Oklahoma Update

Oklahoma ran its record to a perfect 5-0 when it captured its second tournament crown of the season last weekend. OU beat San Diego (68-61) and UC Irvine (80-68) last Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the Sooner Holiday Classic in Norman. Sophomore guard J.R. Raymond earned tournament MVP honors by averaging 18.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, and scored 24 points (17 in the second half) in the championship game over the Anteaters. Senior Eduardo Najera, the Top of the World Classic MVP a week earlier, also made the Sooner Holiday Classic all-tournament team by averaging 16.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in OU's two wins.

Najera and Raymond lead the team in scoring, both averaging 18.8 points per game on the season. Junior Nolan Johnson is the only other player who averages double figures in points (10.4 ppg). Najera leads the squad in rebounding (7.6 rpg) and is followed by junior Jameel Heywood (5.4 rpg) and Johnson (4.8 rpg).

The Sooners, who shot .500 or better from the field just three times in 32 games last year, have already shot at least .500 three times this season. Oklahoma owns .484 field goal, .430 three-point and .760 free throw marks so far, all significantly higher than last season's .421, .388 and .651 respective figures.

Season Averages


F5Nolan Johnson (6-4, 215, Jr.)
F21Eduardo Najera (6-8, 240, Sr.)
C33Renzi Stone (6-10, 250, Sr.)
G11J.R. Raymond (6-2, 175, So.)
G14Tim Heskett (6-1, 185, Jr.)


F24Marcus Hicks (6-6, 220, Sr.)
F25Lataryl Williams (6-7, 205, Sr.)
F44Rahim Lockhart (6-8, 250, Jr.)15.512.71.2
G11Jason Harrison (5-5, 150, So.)
G22Jason Flanigan (6-1, 175, Jr.)

About Mississippi

Coming off a 77-65 win at Alabama State on Wednesday, Mississippi sports a perfect 6-0 record. The Rebels have outscored their opponents by an average of 15.1 points per game and have outrebounded their foes by a whopping 15.7 boards per outing. A squad that boasts size and athleticism, Mississippi is averaging 5.0 blocked shots and 9.2 steals per contest.

Senior forward Marcus Hicks leads the team with his 17.5 points-per-game scoring average while junior forward Rahim Lockhart is averaging 15.5 points and a team-high 12.7 rebounds per game. Lockhart has tallied double-doubles in all six games and also leads the team in blocked shots (2.8 bpg). Junior guard Jason Flanigan ranks third on the squad in scoring (8.8 ppg) and leads the team in assists (4.8 apg).

Last season, first-year Head Coach Rod Barnes directed the Rebels to a 20-13 overall record and an 8-8 SEC mark. Mississippi beat Villanova, 72-70, in the NCAA Tournament's first round in Milwaukee, Wis., (the same site at which Oklahoma played) for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory before losing to eventual Final Four participant Michigan State in the second round, 74-66.

Series with Mississippi

Last year's 75-72 Mississippi victory at the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic on Dec. 22 marked the first time the Sooners and Rebels ever met. Mississippi shot .565 from the field (.632 after halftime) in the second-round showdown in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, while Oklahoma shot .443 (.382 after intermission). Senior guard Keith Carter paced the Rebels with 20 points while then-junior forward Marcus Hicks registered 17. OU was led by senior point guard Michael Johnson's 20 points and six assists. Eduardo Najera scored 12 points and pulled down a then-career-high 14 rebounds. Mississippi went on to lose to eventual Final Four participant Ohio State in the Classic's championship game the next day.

Sooners Snatch Holiday Classic Crown

Oklahoma beat San Diego and UC Irvine last weekend to win the second annual Sooner Holiday Classic championship in Norman. The Sooners turned away San Diego on Friday, 68-61, despite shooting .403 from the field, .278 from beyond the arc and .591 from the charity stripe. Eduardo Najera scored a team-high 17 points despite playing just 22 minutes due to foul trouble while Jameel Heywood came off the bench to contribute 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds, also in 22 minutes. In the title game, OU trailed at halftime (36-32) for the first time this season but ended the contest on a 33-21 run to grab the first-place trophy. J.R. Raymond poured in 17 second-half points and finished with 24 thanks largely to his 5-for-7 three-point performance. Najera and Nolan Johnson added 16 points apiece.

Coming Up

Following Saturday's contest, Oklahoma will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to face the Arkansas Razorbacks Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. Last year, OU pounded Arkansas in Norman, 87-57. After that, the Sooners return to Norman for three straight home games: Dec. 11 versus Arkansas-Little Rock, Dec. 18 versus Georgia Southern and Dec. 22 versus Cincinnati (currently ranked No. 1 in the country).

Najera Continues to Climb OU Charts

Preseason All-American Eduardo Najera showed his worth at the Top of the World Classic and Sooner Holiday Classic, averaging 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 blocked shots and 1.4 steals per game over the five combined contests. The senior forward, who shot .415 from the field and .642 from the free throw line last year, has posted .481 and .810 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 24th (1,115 points) and 14th (634 rebounds). Najera needs 39 points to move into 23rd place on the all-time scoring list (ahead of Willie Rogers) and 59 points to move into the 22nd slot (ahead of Brent Price). In five games this season, he has already passed Cary Carrabine (1,034 points), Scott Martin (1,078), Joe King (1,085), Damon Patterson (1,099) and Terry Stotts (1,104) in career scoring.

Raymond Scores 29 in Collegiate Debut

Sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond made 9-of-16 field goal attempts, including 5-of-9 three-point tries, and finished with a game-high 29 points against Montana State in his collegiate debut Nov. 19 in Fairbanks, Alaska. 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 output 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.

Big 12 Begins Season in Fine Fashion

As of Friday, Big 12 schools have posted a 47-10 (.825) cumulative record. Besides Oklahoma (5-0), undefeated teams include Oklahoma State (5-0), Baylor (4-0), Kansas (4-0) and Texas (4-0). 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 top-ranked Cincinnati in the championship game.

Sampson Starts 5-0 for Third Time in Six Seasons

For the third time in six seasons as OU's head coach, Kelvin Sampson has started the year with five straight victories. The Sooners' best starts were 7-0 performances in the 1994-95 and the 1996-97 seasons.

Head Coach Kelvin Sampson

Now in his 17th year as a collegiate head coach, Kelvin Sampson is in his sixth year at the Oklahoma helm. He has averaged 20.6 wins per season at OU and is one of two Big 12 coaches -- Kansas' Roy Williams is the other -- to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament each of the last five seasons.

Sampson began his head coaching career in 1980 at Montana Tech when he was hired as the program's interim head coach. He recorded a 73-45 mark in four seasons and was inducted into the school's sports hall of fame two years ago.

In 1988, Sampson was named head coach at Washington State and compiled an even 103-103 record over seven years, including two 20-win campaigns.

Hired by Oklahoma on April 25, 1994, he has guided the Sooners to a 108-55 (.663) record and a 64-13 (.831) home mark. In 1997-98, OU finished tied for second place in the Big 12 Conference and played in the league's postseason tournament championship game. Last year, he directed OU to another second-place league finish and an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.

Sampson was named the 1995 national coach of the year by the Associated Press, the USBWA and Basketball Times.

Sampson Year by Year

YearSchoolRecord (Pct.)
1981-82Montana Tech7-20 (.259)
1982-83Montana Tech22-9 (.710)
1983-84Montana Tech22-7 (.759)
1984-85Montana Tech22-9 (.710)
1987-88Washington State13-16 (.448)
1988-89Washington State10-19 (.345)
1989-90Washington State7-22 (.241)
1990-91Washington State16-12 (.571)
1991-92Washington State22-11 (.667)
1992-93Washington State15-12 (.556)
1993-94Washington State20-11 (.645)
1994-95Oklahoma23-9 (.719)
1995-96Oklahoma17-13 (.567)
1996-97Oklahoma19-11 (.633)
1997-98Oklahoma22-11 (.667)
1998-99Oklahoma22-11 (.667)
1999-00Oklahoma5-0 (1.000)
Totals284-203 (.582)

OU Miscellany

  • Thirty-five of Tim Heskett's 38 field goal attempts have been three-pointers while 13 of Kelley Newton's 16 field goal tries have been from beyond the arc.
  • Jameel Heywood ranks second on the team in rebounding (5.4 rpg) despite averaging just 15.8 minutes per game. That's an average of 13.7 rebounds per 40 minutes of play.
  • Oklahoma averaged 3.9 blocked shots per game last year. This season, OU is averaging 1.4 blocks.
  • Tim Heskett owns a 3.7 assist/turnover ratio (11 assists and just three turnovers).
  • OU has outrebounded each of its five opponents and has done so by an average of 5.6 boards per game.
  • Eduardo Najera, who stands 6-8, has won each opening tip this year.
  • The Sooners are averaging 9.2 three-point makes per game. Last season, OU set a school record with its 8.6 treys per outing.
  • Of Renzi Stone's 18 rebounds, 11 (61 percent) have been offensive.

Sooners Ink Four Standouts

Head Coach Kelvin Sampson announced Nov. 10 that four players have signed national letters of intent to attend Oklahoma next year. Expected to join the Sooner program are prep players Johnnie Gilbert and James Wright, and junior college players Aaron McGhee and Daryan Selvy.

Recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said, "This class will be ranked no lower than 15th nationally. And it should wind up being a top-10 class."

A third-team All-State performer last year at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, Minn., Gilbert, 6-7 and 220 pounds, averaged 14.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.0 blocked shots per outing while leading his squad to a 21-4 record and an appearance in the state championship quarterfinals. This preseason, Patrick Henry is ranked No. 1 in Minnesota's 4A class. Gibbons rates Gilbert as the nation's 88th-best senior.

An athletic wing player, Wright is the Wisconsin state record holder in the high jump. He averaged 10.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocked shots as a senior last year at Vincent High School in Milwaukee, Wis. At 6-6 and 210 pounds, Wright experienced tremendous success in his four years at Vincent, helping his teams to state titles as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and a four-year 97-10 record. Following his junior season, Vincent was ranked seventh nationally by Street & Smith's and ninth nationally by USA Today. This year, Wright is attending The Winchendon (prep) School in Winchendon, Mass. According to Gibbons, he is one of the 10 best post-graduate prep players in the country.

The 6-8, 250-pound McGhee, who hails from Aurora, Ill., was regarded as one of the 50 best players in the nation his senior year at Aurora East High School where he was a two-time All-State selection. As a senior, he earned honorable mention All-America honors from USA Today and The Sporting News after averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.9 blocked shots and 2.3 steals per game. He guided East to a 24-3 record that year and went on to earn MVP honors in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association state all-star game. He originally signed with Cincinnati and sat out the 1997-98 season. Last year with the Bearcats, McGhee played in 30 games and averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per contest. Against Southern Mississippi, the forward scored a career-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Gibbons considers him one of the country's top 15 junior college players.

Selvy, who attended the same high school as former first-team All-Big 12 guard Corey Brewer, is a sophomore at Carl Albert Junior College in Poteau, Okla., also the same junior college Brewer attended. Last year, Selvy averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. As a senior at West Memphis, he guided his team to a state championship. Greg Swaim of Midwest Basketball rates him as the 20th-best junior college sophomore in the nation. Selvy stands 6-6 and weighs 215 pounds.

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:

TeamStreakNCAANIT Started
North Carolina332941966-67

Coach Sampson on Television

This season, Oklahoma basketball fans can catch Head Coach Kelvin Sampson on television twice a week with "Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson" and "Sooner Basketball 2000." The shows will give viewers an insider's look at the OU program and feature highlights, interviews and Coach Sampson's insights.

Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson

Hosted by veteran Oklahoma City television sports anchor Bill Teegins, "Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson" will air Fridays at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest. The half-hour show will also be seen in Oklahoma City on KWTV Channel 9 Saturdays at 11 a.m. and in Tulsa on TCI Cablevision Channel 9 Fridays at 6 p.m.

Sooner Basketball 2000

"Sooner Basketball 2000" will be co-hosted by Steve Neumann, director of broadcasting at OU, and Greg Kerr, weekend sports anchor at Oklahoma City's KWTV Channel 9. The one-hour show will air in Oklahoma City Sundays at 7 p.m. on NewsNow 53 and later that night at 1:45 a.m. on KWTV Channel 9.

3MICHAEL CANO (6-1, 170, SO., GUARD)
A walk-on who played in eight games last season.
A unanimous first-team all-region selection at San Antonio's Tom C. Clark High School as a senior.

Averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and shooting .545 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 4.6 points per game and has made 4-of-6 three-point attempts.
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 scoring (tied with Eduardo Najera at 18.8 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg).
Leads team in minutes (35.6 mpg) and is shooting .514 from three-point land (18-for-35).
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)
Has made 13-of-35 three-pointers this year and ranks fourth on team with 9.0 scoring average.
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).
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.

Made first five three-point attempts of collegiate career at the Top of the World Classic and is shooting .615 on the season.
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.

A preseason Playboy All-American who was named Top of the World Classic MVP and to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.
Averaging 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks per game, all team bests.
Ranks 24th on OU's all-time scoring list with 1,115 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.

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 7.8 minutes 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).
Registered a career-high 12 boards versus Baylor last year.
Made 11-of-12 free throws and scored a career-high 17 points versus Texas A&M Feb. 13.
A second-team junior college All-American who averaged 23.7 points, 15.3 boards and 2.8 blocks per contest in 1997-98.

Ranks second on team in assists per minutes played.
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.

Ranks second on team with 5.4 rebounds per game despite playing just 15.8 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.

1999-00 Big 12 Standings (As of Friday, Dec. 3)

                Big 12         Overall

Team          W   L   Pct.   W   L   Pct.

Oklahoma      0   0   .000   5   0   1.000

Kansas        0   0   .000   5   0   1.000

Okla. State   0   0   .000   5   0   1.000

Baylor        0   0   .000   4   0   1.000

Texas         0   0   .000   4   0   1.000

Missouri      0   0   .000   5   1    .833

Colorado      0   0   .000   3   1    .750

Kan. State    0   0   .000   3   1    .750

Texas Tech    0   0   .000   3   1    .750

Iowa State    0   0   .000   3   2    .600

Nebraska      0   0   .000   2   2    .500

Texas A&M     0   0   .000   1   2    .333

AP Poll (Nov. 29) (First-place votes in parentheses)

1.Cincinnati (55)4-01,671
2.North Carolina (7)3-01,567
3.Stanford (4)5-01,541
4.Arizona (2)4-01,511
8.Michigan State3-11,202
15.Ohio State0-1736
21.Oklahoma State4-0371

ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll (Nov. 29) (First-place votes in parentheses)

1.Cincinnati (27)3-0764
2.North Carolina (3)3-0696
3.Stanford (1)5-0685
7.Michigan State3-1564
17.Ohio State0-1266
22.Oklahoma State4-0196
25.Miami (Fla.)2-071



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