Nov. 16, 2002
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Ranked third in the initial AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Oklahoma plays its second and final exhibition game of the season Sunday against Athletes First at 3 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center. The game will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The contest will not be televised.
Tickets to the exhibition contest are still available and cost $10, $15 or $20 depending on location. OU students will be admitted free on the Lloyd Noble Center west side with a valid student ID. A limited number of season tickets are also still available and can be purchased by calling (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668 during regular business hours.
OU'S PROJECTED STARTERS F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.)
The Sooners began their 2002-03 regular season with a 68-62 loss to No. 8 Alabama Thursday at the Coaches vs. Cancer AT&T Wireless Classic inside New York's Madison Square Garden. OU trailed by eight points at halftime and by as many as 18 in the second half before a late rally trimmed the deficit to five points three times in the final 1:30. Oklahoma committed 18 turnovers, one fewer than its season high last year, and posted .415 field goal and .200 three-point marks. Alabama also outrebounded OU, 38-32.
Ebi Ere, last season's Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, led the Sooners with 24 points against the Crimson Tide and also pulled down a game-high nine boards. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Hollis Price shot only nine times on the game but ended up with 19 points (15 after halftime), three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Senior point guard Quannas White played just 23 minutes and contributed one point, three rebounds and no assists. In his first career game, freshman forward Kevin Bookout recorded six points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal in 29 minutes.
Sunday's exhibition game will be OU's second of the season. The Sooners knocked off Global Sports by a 76-61 score last Saturday behind 21 points from Price, 16 from Ere and 15 from Bookout.
ABOUT ATHLETES FIRST
Athletes First is winless in its six previous games. The average score of those contests has been 96-82. The traveling squad has lost at Sam Houston State (82-78), Southwest Texas (90-81), Oral Roberts (109-91), Wichita State (109-86), Kansas State (95-68) and Texas Tech (91-86). Athletes First is shooting .411 from the field, .381 from three-point range and .792 from the foul line. It averages 18.8 turnovers per game and has been outrebounded by 10.3 rebounds per outing.
Forward/center Bruce Jenkins has played three of the team's six games and is averaging 18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Former Oklahoma State guard Joe Adkins has played in five contests and is averaging 15.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and a team-high 4.8 assists per outing. Eric Martin, who played for the Sooners in 1997-98 and 1998-99, is averaging 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He scored 24 in Athletes First's loss at Oral Roberts. Former Tulsa guard Tony Heard averages 10.8 points and 2.4 assists.
Last year, Oklahoma posted an 86-78 exhibition win over Athletes First at the McCasland Field House. Heard scored 20 points and had four assists while Martin registered 10 points and six boards.
Gary Vick serves as the Athletes First head coach while Keith Burt is the assistant coach.
FIRST EXHIBITION RECAP
The Sooners started the 2002-03 season on the right foot by knocking off Global Sports in an exhibition affair Nov. 9, 76-61. Hollis Price scored 17 of his game-high 21 in the first half while Ebi Ere picked up the slack after halftime by scoring all 16 of his points in the second 20 minutes. In his first action in an Oklahoma uniform, freshman forward Kevin Bookout made 7-of-9 field goal tries and finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and no turnovers. OU trailed 14-8 at the 12:40 mark of the first half but outscored the All-Stars 30-12 the rest of the period to carry a 12-point lead to intermission. Global Sports scored the first basket of the second half to cut OU's lead to 10 but never drew closer as the Sooners led by as many as 20. Oklahoma shot .468 from the field, .409 from 3-point range and .643 from the foul line while the All-Stars recorded .442, .364 and .500 marks. Quannas White scored eight points and had two assists while freshman De'Angelo Alexander had seven points and four boards. Blake Johnston came off the bench to hand out a game-high five assists. Jabahri Brown and Johnnie Gilbert fouled out after scoring two points apiece. Global Sports center Daniel Watts led the All-Stars with 14 points and forward Charles Gosa added 11. The win was OU's 16th in 17 exhibition games under Sampson.
Oklahoma has been playing two exhibition games every season since 1989-90, but this marks the first time in school history both exhibition contests were not played prior to the start of the regular season.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
In Ebi Ere's three career exhibition games, he has scored just four first-half points. Fortunately, his second-half totals look nothing like his first-half figures. The senior guard has netted 44 points after intermission of those exhibition contests. That means 92 percent of his career exhibition points have come after halftime.
The Sooners have compiled an impressive exhibition record over the last 15 years. Oklahoma has won its opening exhibition game the last 15 seasons and has been the victor in 29 of its last 30 exhibition affairs. Under Kelvin Sampson, OU is 16-1 in exhibition games.
TURNER PLAYS, DETRICK DOES NOT
Prior to OU's first exhibition game, Kelvin Sampson indicated it was his preference to redshirt both true freshman center Larry Turner and senior guard Jason Detrick. Neither played in the Sooners' Nov. 9 exhibition win over Global Sports, but Turner saw seven minutes of court time against Alabama Thursday in the regular season opener. Turner grabbed one rebound and committed a personal foul in the contest. Detrick, a member of the Big 12 All-Reserve Team last year after averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds, did not play against the Crimson Tide.
BOOKOUT MAKES RARE FRESHMAN START
On Thursday against Alabama, forward Kevin Bookout became just the second freshman to start the first game of a season for Oklahoma under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson. The only other freshman to crack the starting lineup to start a year was guard Prince Fowler in the 1994-95 campaign, Sampson's first at OU. Fowler had seven points, four rebounds and nine assists in 30 minutes of action against Coppin State on Nov. 26, 1994. Bookout, a second-team Parade All-American last year at Stroud (Okla.) High School, totaled six points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 29 minutes. He guarded preseason first-team All-American Erwin Dudley. Dudley finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and four turnovers.
SAMPSON SIGNS STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
Oklahoma signed four high-schoolers to national letters of intent on Wednesday. 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 marks its highest ever heading into 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.
SOONERS RANKED NO. 1 BY ESPN.COM
ESPN.com ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason power poll on Wednesday. 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."
PRESEASON BIG 12 PREDICTIONS
In the annual preseason Big 12 media poll, 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:
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price passed three players on the school's all-time scoring chart with his 19-point performance against Alabama on Thursday. He now stands 19th on the career list. 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 (400), seventh in three-point field goals (148), seventh in minutes played (3,191), eighth in steals (172), ninth in assists (368) 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, as well as 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."
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.
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.
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...