Nov. 22, 2002
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Ranked seventh in this week's AP poll and third in the initial ESPN/USA Today poll, Oklahoma hosts the Sooner Invitational this Friday and Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center. On Friday, Princeton will play Western Michigan at 4:45 p.m. and then Oklahoma will face UC Irvine at 7 p.m. Saturday's consolation game will start at noon and will be followed by the championship game at 2 p.m.
Oklahoma's games 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. Friday's OU-UC Irvine contest will be televised on the Sooner Sports Network (KSBI Ch. 52 in OKC) with Bob Carpenter (play-by-play), Wayman Tisdale (analyst) and Billy Tubbs (analyst) announcing.
Tickets to the Sooner Invitational are still available and cost $15 per day (one ticket gains admission to both games of a day). A limited number of season tickets are also still available and can be purchased by calling the OU Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668 during regular business hours.
UC IRVINE'S PROJECTED STARTERS F 12 Stanislav Zuzak (6-10, 235, Jr.) F 13 Jordan Harris (6-5, 220, Sr.) C 55 Adam Parada (7-0, 250, Jr.) G 20 Mike Hood (6-4, 190, Sr.) G 22 Aras Baskauskas (6-3, 190, Jr.)
OKLAHOMA'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 sandwiched their Nov. 14 regular-season-opening loss to Alabama with a pair of exhibition victories. OU dropped a 68-62 decision to the then-No. 8 Crimson Tide 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.
In their first exhibition game (Nov. 9), the Sooners knocked off Global Sports by a 76-61 score behind 21 points from Price, 16 from Ere and 15 from Bookout. OU topped Athletes First this past Sunday by a 100-61 count behind a game-high 25 points from freshman De'Angelo Alexander. The guard was 6-for-6 from three-point range in the second half and scored 15 points in a 2:40 span late in the contest. Ere added 20 points and Jabahri Brown notched a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
ABOUT UC IRVINE
Friday's game will mark the first of the regular season for UC Irvine. The Anteaters split their exhibition contests, losing at Division II Cal State Bakersfield 63-56 on Nov. 9 and defeating Team Ezybonds (Australia) 77-67 on Nov. 15. Junior forward Stanislav Zuzak paced UCI in both games with 19 and 21 points, respectively. The Anteaters combined to shoot .413 from the field, .295 from beyond the arc and .588 from the free throw line. They outboarded their two foes by an average of 1.5 rebounds per outing.
Last year, UCI finished 21-11 overall and tied Utah State for the Big West Conference regular season crown with a 13-5 record. In 2000-01, the Anteaters finished 25-5 and 15-1. The team has participated in the NIT each of the last two seasons.
Junior center Adam Parada and senior forward Jordan Harris (12.4 ppg) are the team's leading returning scorers from last year. Parada also averaged 7.0 rebounds per outing and earned second-team All-Big West honors. Harris averaged 6.8 boards and was an honorable mention all-league selection. Zuzak and senior guard Mike Hood averaged 8.2 points per game apiece.
In his sixth season at UC Irvine, head coach Pat Douglass has amassed a 75-68 (.524) record. He is in his 22nd season overall and sports a 451-186 (.708) career mark. He directed Cal State Bakersfield to Division II national championships in 1993, 1994 and 1997.
UCI assistant coach Len Stevens served as Washington State's head coach and hired Kelvin Sampson as an assistant. Sampson spent two years on Stevens' staff before being named WSU head coach in April 1987.
UC IRVINE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma leads the overall series with UC Irvine, 3-0. OU won the last meeting, 80-68, Nov. 27, 1999, in the Sooner Holiday Classic championship game. Hollis Price is the only current Sooner who played in that contest. Then a freshman, he played 14 minutes and registered eight points, one rebound, two assists and three steals. Oklahoma also beat the Anteaters in the 1994-95 season (99-77 in Kelvin Sampson's second game as OU head coach) and in the 1982 NIT second round (80-77). All three games were played at Lloyd Noble Center.
OU IN HOME OPENERS
Oklahoma has won 22 of its last 23 regular season home openers with the lone loss during the stretch coming to Massachusetts in 1993 (84-83). Kelvin Sampson is 8-0 in home openers at OU.
Oklahoma has been playing two exhibition games every season since 1989-90, but this marked the first time in school history both exhibition contests were not played prior to the start of the regular season.
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 in the regular season opener and played 13 minutes in the second exhibition against Athletes First. 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 or Athletes First.
BOOKOUT MAKES RARE FRESHMAN START
Last 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.
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 last 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 solid 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.
SAMPSON SIGNS STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
Oklahoma signed four high-schoolers to national letters of intent last 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 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.
SOONERS RANKED NO. 1 BY ESPN.COM
ESPN.com ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason power poll last 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 were ranked third nationally in the season's first AP and ESPN/USA Today top-25 coaches polls. Third seemed to be the preseason ranking of choice for OU as seven of the 10 magazine or Internet publications listed below had the Sooners in that slot:
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...