Jan. 6, 2000

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NORMAN, Okla. -
Ranked 19th in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 20th in the AP version, Oklahoma (12-1) hosts Texas A&M (4-7) Saturday at 3 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center. The game, which is the Big 12 opener for both teams, will air on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) calling the action. The contest will also be televised locally by ESPN Regional Television (KFOR Channel 4 in Oklahoma City and KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa). Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Paul Splittorff (analyst) will announce.

Oklahoma Update
The Sooners, off to their best 13-game start since the 1989-90 season when they also began 12-1, are coming off a narrow 67-63 home victory over Lamar on Monday. Senior Eduardo Najera converted 11-of-15 field goal attempts and finished with a game-high 25 points. The John R. Wooden Award finalist also recorded a pair of assists, a season-high three blocks and a career-high five steals. His free throws with six seconds remaining put OU up by four and sealed the win.

Najera has registered double-doubles in three of the last four contests and is averaging 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.5 steals during the four-game span. He ranks third in the Big 12 with five double-doubles this year. On the season, the forward is averaging 19.2 points, 8.5 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks. All are team bests except for the assists mark.

Though he has struggled with his shot recently, sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond ranks second on the team and third among Big 12 newcomers with his 15.8 points-per-game average. In OU's last four contests, Raymond is shooting .296 (16-for-54) from the field and .167 (4-for-24) from three-point range.

Season Averages

OKLAHOMA PROBABLE STARTERS

PPGRPGAPG
F21Eduardo Najera (6-8, 240, Sr.)19.28.51.9
C33Renzi Stone (6-10, 250, Sr.)4.94.21.8
G5Nolan Johnson (6-4, 215, Jr.)7.74.21.5
G11J.R. Raymond (6-2, 175, So.)15.83.53.5
G14Tim Heskett (6-1, 185, Jr.)9.22.11.8

TEXAS A&M PROBABLE STARTERS

PPGRPGAPG
F21Aaron Jack (6-8, 237, Sr.)7.77.40.9
F25Larry Scott (6-5, 206, Fr.)9.82.61.3
G4Jamaal Gilchrist (5-10, 182, Fr.)9.24.03.6
G32Bernard King (6-3, 182, Fr.)16.74.64.1
G52Jerald Brown (6-7, 224, Sr.)7.43.80.4

About Texas A&M
Texas A&M is coming off a heartbreaking 63-60 home defeat to Centenary in which it was the victim of a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the game. The Aggies, who have lost four of their last five contests, are 2-2 at home, 0-5 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites. Two of their setbacks have come in overtime (64-60 at Tulane and 76-69 at Lamar).

Freshman guard Bernard King leads A&M in the scoring and assists department by averaging 16.7 points and 4.2 dishes per outing. Forward Larry Scott, also a freshman, and forward Carlton Brown, a junior college transfer, average 9.8 and 9.6 points per game, respectively, while senior Aaron Jack averages a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.

In his second year as the Aggies' head coach, Melvin Watkins has posted a 16-22 (.421) record. Last season he guided his squad to 12-15 overall and 5-11 league marks. The former UNC Charlotte mentor is in his fourth year as a collegiate head coach and owns a 58-42 (.580) career record.

Series with Texas A&M
Oklahoma owns an 11-1 series lead over Texas A&M with its lone defeat coming in the teams' second meeting last season in College Station. The Sooners are 5-0 versus the Aggies in Norman, 3-1 in College Station and 3-0 at neutral sites. In the teams' first matchup a year ago on Feb. 13, OU recorded a 102-75 victory in Norman. Senior guard Michael Johnson scored a game-high 22 points to give the Sooners' their most lopsided win of the conference season. Oklahoma set season highs in field goal percentage (.582), three-point field goals (15) and three-point field goal percentage (.600). The 102 points tied a season high. Six Sooners scored in double digits while Eric Martin fouled out with nine points. Victor Avila made 11-of-12 free throw attempts and finished with a career-high 17 points. Reserve center Oleg Reztsov's two points were the first of his career.

Texas A&M avenged its loss with a 74-72 triumph just 11 days later as Jerald Brown buried a five-foot bank shot at the final horn. Eduardo Najera scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the first 8:30 of the second half and helped OU to an 11-point lead with 13:49 left in the game. He also contributed a career-high eight assists, a career-high-tying four blocks and three steals while recovering from the flu. Clifton Cook registered 19 points and six assists for the Aggies, both team highs.

Oklahoma/Texas A&M Statistical Comparison

OKLAHOMACATEGORYTEXAS A&M
12-1Overall Record4-7
76.8Points Average67.4
60.6Opponent Points Average70.5
36.7Rebounds Average38.1
31.6Opponent Rebounding Average35.1
.471Field Goal Percentage.422
.416Opponent Field Goal Percentage.414
.4013-Pt. Percentage.328
.368Opponent 3-Pt. Percentage.402
.722Free Throw Percentage.663
16.9Personal Fouls Average18.7
15.1Assists Average13.0
12.2Turnovers Average17.3
2.8Blocked Shots Average2.5
6.9Steals Average6.9

Recapping the Lamar Contest
The Sooners raced to a 13-2 lead over what looked to be an overmatched Lamar squad Monday at Lloyd Noble Center, but had to battle back from a brief one-point second-half deficit and earn a 67-63 victory. Trailing 35-34 early in the second stanza, Oklahoma tallied six straight points and went ahead for good. OU pushed its lead to 11 with 6:06 to go on an Eduardo Najera layup and led by nine with 1:38 remaining. A trio of three-pointers and a two-point bucket by Lamar cut the lead to two with just six seconds showing on the clock, but Najera iced the game when he nailed both ends of a one-and-one. The senior All-America candidate, who scored 13 of OU's first 15 points, was 11-for-15 from the field and finished with a game-high 25 points. He added six boards, two assists, three blocks and a career-high five steals. J.R. Raymond and Tim Heskett contributed 12 points apiece while Nolan Johnson scored 10. Renzi Stone paced the team with nine rebounds. Lamar forward Landon Rowe scored a team-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. The Cardinals shot .526 (10-for-19) from three-point range on the night.

Coming Up
Oklahoma hosts Baylor Tuesday at 7 p.m (televised by Sooner Sports Network) before hitting the road for its 8 p.m. game next Saturday at Texas (ESPN Regional).

OU's Big 12 History
The Sooners boast a 31-17 (.646) three-year Big 12 record, second only to Kansas' 41-7 (.854) mark. OU finished 9-7 (fifth place) in 1996-97 and 11-5 (tied for second) in each of the last two years. Kelvin Sampson's three Big 12 squads have posted a 17-7 league record at home and a 14-10 mark on the road.

Turnovers Few and Far Between
OU averages a Big 12-low 12.2 turnovers per outing (Missouri ranks second with 13.4) and has committed an average of just 10.8 in its last six games. The Sooners own the second-best assist/turnover ratio in the conference (1.23).

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 19.2 points (ranks third in Big 12) and 8.5 rebounds (ranks sixth in league) per game and was named Top of the World Classic and All-College Tournament MVP. Najera was also named to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team and 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 .472 and .709 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 15th (1,271 points) and 12th (707 rebounds). Najera needs 68 points to move into 14th place on the all-time scoring list ahead of Mookie Blaylock. In 13 games this season, he has already passed Cary Carrabine, Scott Martin, Joe King, Damon Patterson, Terry Stotts, Willie Rogers, Brent Price, Lester Lane, Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry and Al Beal in career scoring.

Sooner Guards Shooting .443 From Beyond Arc
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 13 games, the Sooners have made 103-of-257 trey attempts for a .401 mark (ranks second in the Big 12). Sooner guards are shooting a stout .443 on the year. Here's a look at the statistics of OU's four three-point shooting guards:

Player3FG3FGAPct.3FG/G
J.R. Raymond3582.4272.7
Tim Heskett3482.4152.6
Kelley Newton2035.5711.5
Hollis Price820.4000.6

Treys Per Game Down Recently
After nine games, the Sooners averaged 9.2 three-point makes per contest. In the last four, however, OU has averaged just 5.0 conversions. J.R. Raymond, who had made at least two treys in each of the team's first 10 games, has just one make in the last three contests combined (1-for-11).

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 76.8 points per contest. Here's a look:

YearPPG
1987-88102.9
1988-89102.2
1989-90101.3
1990-9196.1
1991-9294.6
1992-9389.1
1993-9487.3
1994-9581.7
1995-9679.0
1996-9774.3
1997-9874.6
1998-9970.2
1999-0076.8

Raymond One of Big 12'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 11th in the Big 12 in scoring (15.8 ppg). He also averages 2.7 three-pointers per game, leads the team in assists (3.5 apg) and ranks third in steals (1.3 spg). Raymond has made a team-high 35 three-pointers on 82 attempts (.427). He also ranks third in the conference with his .805 free throw mark.

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 25.2 minutes per game, has committed just eight turnovers this season. That's an average of one turnover every 41 minutes. The junior guard ranks third on the team with a 9.2 points-per-game scoring average and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 2.6 three-point makes per contest.

Big 12 Begins Season in Fine Fashion
Heading into Thursday, Big 12 schools have posted a 105-38 (.734) cumulative record. Three squads have captured neutral-court tournament crowns: Oklahoma won the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, Kansas won the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska, and Texas won the Puerto Rico Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Iowa State finished second at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii, losing only to Cincinnati in the title game.

The Big 12 owns a .500 or better record against every league except the Missouri Valley Conference (2-3).

OU Miscellany

  • Four players (Tim Heskett, Eduardo Najera, J.R. Raymond and Renzi Stone) have each started all 13 games.

  • Five Sooners (Victor Avila, Tim Heskett, Kelley Newton, J.R. Raymond and Nolan Johnson) are shooting better than .800 from the free throw line.

  • J.R. Raymond recorded seven steals versus Arkansas-Little Rock but has just three in five games since.

  • After posting three consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, Hollis Price has averaged just 2.2 points over the last five games.

  • Oklahoma shot .500 or better from the field in five of its first nine games but hasn't since.

  • In five-plus years under Coach Sampson, the Sooners are 67-8 (.893)when scoring 80 or more points and are 53-2 (.964) when scoring at least 80 points at home.

  • Oklahoma has been outrebounded just three times in its 13 games (vs. Mississippi, Cincinnati and Lamar).

  • OU has committed fewer turnovers than its opponents in all but one game (vs. George Washington). It is averaging just 12.2 turnovers per outing.

  • Thirty-four of Tim Heskett's 37 field goal conversions have been three-pointers while 20 of Kelley Newton's 24 field goal makes have been treys. Newton's first 17 baskets this year were three-pointers.

  • The Sooners are shooting .471 from the field this season. Last year OU shot .421 from the field.

  • Heskett has committed just eight turnovers this season in 328 total minutes. That's an average of one every 41 minutes. He boasts a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio, the best on the squad.

  • The Sooners are averaging 7.9 three-point makes per game. Last season, OU set a school record with its 8.6 treys per outing.

  • In his last 10 games, Eduardo Najera is averaging 7.1 free throw attempts.

  • OU averaged 13.6 assists in its first seven games, but is averaging 16.8 in its last six.

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 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
Georgetown252051974-75
Indiana222021977-78
Oklahoma181441981-82

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 115-56 (.673) record and a 68-14 (.829) 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)
1999-00Oklahoma12-1 (.923)
Totals291-204 (.588)

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 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" is 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.

1999-00 Big 12 Standings
(Through Wednesday, Jan. 5)

Big 12Overall
TeamLPct.LPct.
Oklahoma00.000121.923
Okla. State00.000111.917
Iowa State00.000122.857
Kansas00.000112.846
Baylor00.00092.818
Texas Tech00.00082.800
Colorado00.00093.750
Texas00.00083.727
Kan. State00.00074.636
Missouri00.00075.583
Nebraska00.00076.538
Texas A&M00.00047.364

Player Profiles

    3 MICHAEL 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.

    5 NOLAN JOHNSON (6-4, 215, JR., GUARD)

  • Has started in 11 games and is averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting .500 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.

    10 HOLLIS PRICE (6-1, 165, FR., GUARD)

  • Averaging 5.4 points, 2.5 assists and a team-high 1.5 steals per game.

  • 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.

    11 J.R. RAYMOND (6-2, 175, SO., GUARD)

  • Poured in 29 points in first collegiate game Nov. 19.

  • Ranks first on team in minutes (34.1 mpg) and assists (3.5 apg), and second in scoring (15.8 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.

    14 TIM HESKETT (6-1, 185, JR., GUARD)

  • Averaging 2.7 three-point makes per game (ranks fifth in Big 12) and just 0.6 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.

    20 KELLEY NEWTON (6-2, 190, JR., GUARD)

  • Has scored 18 points in two of the last five games.

  • Twenty of his 24 baskets have been three-pointers.

  • Shooting .571 from three-point land to rank sixth in the nation.

  • Tore ACL and MCL in his left knee during Oct. 31, 1998,scrimmage and missed the entire season (had surgery Nov. 20).

    21 EDUARDO NAJERA (6-8, 240, SR., FORWARD)

  • A preseason Playboy All-American who was named Top of the World Classic and All-College Tournament MVP and to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.

  • Averaging 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals.

  • Scored career-high 29 points and grabbed season-high 14 boards vs. Arkansas State in All-College Touney title game.

  • Ranks 15th on OU's all-time scoring list with 1,271 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.

    22 OLEG REZTSOV (7-2, 230, SR., CENTER)

  • Played a career-high 10 minutes versus Mount St. Mary's.

  • Scored four points in five minutes of action in first exhibition game this year.

  • Is the tallest player in school history.

  • Maintains his own web site (http://i.am/sooner).

    30 JARRETT HART (6-3, 210, FR., GUARD)

  • A first-team All-State selection at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., last year.

  • 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.

    32 VICTOR AVILA (6-10, 255, SR., CENTER)

  • Averaging 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

  • Has recorded double-doubles in two of last five contests.

  • 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.

    33 RENZI STONE (6-10, 250, SR., FORWARD/CENTER)

  • Has started all 13 games and is averaging 4.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 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.

    34 JAMEEL HEYWOOD (6-6, 220, JR., FORWARD)

  • Shooting team-high .656 from field and averaging 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 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.