Sooners Roll Over Winthrop To Begin Tourney Run

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 16, 2000

March 16, 2000

AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz.- On the wings of 3-pointers, Oklahoma moved on to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Sooners were 10-of-21 from long range Thursday while Winthrop clanked shot after shot off the rim in a miserable shooting performance as third-seeded Oklahoma rolled to a 74-50 victory.

Oklahoma's Eduardo Najera managed just 10 points, nearly nine below his average, in 28 foul-plagued minutes, but that hardly mattered as four other Sooners scored in double figures.

"We've got a complete team," reserve guard Tim Heskett said. "We've got an All-American in Eduardo and people sit on him, but we've got so many weapons besides him. People overlook us a lot."

First-year guards J.R. Raymond and Hollis Price carried the offense in the first half, as the Sooners built a 39-23 lead at the break. Raymond scored 11 of 14 of his points in the first 20 minutes and finished 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Price added 10, also all in the first half.

In the second half, Heskett was 4-for-4 from 3-point range to finish with 12 points. Nolan Johnson also had 12 for the Sooners (27-6).

"I thought our guards would match up a little better," Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall said. "We normally had a hand in their face, but they knocked down shots."

Winthrop, seeded 14th, shot just 26 percent (15-for-56), 2-for-20 on 3-pointers.

"They played shirt-to-shirt, smothering defense," Marshall said. "Give Oklahoma a lot of credit."

The Eagles had held opponents to just 39 percent shooting this season, but the Sooners shot 51 percent.

Greg Lewis scored 21 for the Eagles (21-9), making their second consecutive tournament appearance, and second straight first-round exit.

"Our team defense was great," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We defended the 3-point line well and made Lewis go left. Our help defense was good and our half-court defense was tremendous."

Winthrop point guard Tyson Waterman, the Big South player of the year the last two seasons, made just one of 10 shots and was 0-for-8 on 3-pointers against the tight defense of Price.

"That's a really good backcourt," Waterman said. "I rarely got any open looks. I was usually forcing things."

Price sank an 18-footer and Raymond followed with a 3-pointer to ignite a 17-5 surge that put Oklahoma up 25-12 with 8:34 left in the first half. Price's 3-pointer with 1:45 to play gave the Sooners their biggest lead of the half, 38-21.

Lewis' offensive rebound and consecutive baskets by Eyo Effiong cut Oklahoma's lead to 46-33 with 15:02 to play. But consecutive 3-pointers by Heskett capped a 13-5 run that put the Sooners up 59-38 with 10:41 remaining.

"Defense was the key to this game," Raymond said. "We came out and shot down their perimeter, and it helped us the entire game. We set the tone early on and didn't give them any breathing room."

Oklahoma, which made just 5-of-20 3-pointers in its loss to Iowa State in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament, advanced to the round of 16 last season. Sampson is 2-9 at McKale Center. His only other victory there was in 1988 in the now-defunct Pac-10 tournament when he was at Washington State.



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