Dec. 12, 2002
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Ranked sixth in this week's AP poll and eighth in the ESPN/USA Today version, Oklahoma (4-1) hosts unranked Coppin State (1-5) on Saturday at 3 p.m. inside 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 game will also be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KWTV Channel 9/Cox Cable 10 in OKC). Bob Carpenter (play-by-play) and Wayman Tisdale (analyst) will announce. Tickets are available and cost $15, $20 or $25, depending on location.
AVERAGES COPPIN STATE PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 23 Darron Bradley (6-5, 185, So.) 2.3 2.2 F 32 Larry Tucker (6-4, 210, Sr.) 13.8 5.3 F 33 Jimmy Boykin (6-7, 210, Jr.) 12.3 3.7 G 21 Deke Thompson (6-0, 180, Fr.) 6.8 2.2 G 34 Raheem Scott (6-2, 220, Fr.) 7.8 5.2
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 9.8 5.4 C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) 9.4 6.8 G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) 22.8 6.8 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 4.4 3.0 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 15.6 2.6
STATISTICAL COMPARISON Category Oklahoma Coppin Overall Record 4-1 1-5 Points Per Game 79.6 51.2 Opponent Points Per Game 62.2 61.7 Rebounds Per Game 38.4 24.0 Opponent Rebounds Per Game 29.4 29.2 Field Goal Pct. .460 .435 Opponent Field Goal Pct. .448 .483 3-Point Pct. .330 .435 Opponent 3-Point Pct. .358 .378 Free Throw Pct. .773 .820 Personal Fouls Per Game 17.8 14.7 Assists Per Game 16.2 9.2 Turnovers Per Game 11.2 14.7 Blocked Shots Per Game 1.4 1.3 Steals Per Game 10.6 5.3
On a four-game winning streak, Oklahoma is coming off its most impressive outing of the young season -- a 92-52 victory over Hartford last Saturday. The Sooners shot .485 from the field, .444 from three-point range and .800 from the foul line while holding the Hawks to .313 field goal and .294 three-point shooting. The 40-point margin of victory was OU's largest since a 97-55 (42 points) win over Texas Southern on Dec. 29 of last season in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.
Senior guard Ebi Ere led the Sooners with a career-high 33 points on 11-of-18 field goal and 4-of-7 three-point shooting. He also grabbed a game-high-tying eight rebounds and added three assists and a steal in only 28 minutes of action. Hollis Price contributed 17 points and Kevin Bookout added 15 points, seven boards, two blocks and two steals. Point guard Quannas White registered a season-high nine assists, had three steals and just one turnover. White did not attempt a field goal but made all four of his free throw tries.
Winners of 26 in a row on their home court, the Sooners have won their four games this year by an average of 23.3 points. OU is averaging 4.8 more assists and 5.8 more steals per game than its opponents while also averaging 6.8 fewer turnovers.
ABOUT COPPIN STATE
Coppin State picked up its first victory of the season last Saturday at Morgan State (73-59) after a 0-5 start. The game marked the Eagles' first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference contest of the year. Coppin lost at Marquette to open the season (64-46) and followed that game with losses versus Idaho State (63-55), at Ohio State (58-51), at North Carolina State (58-37) and versus George Mason (68-45). The Eagles have been outscored by 10.5 points and outrebounded by 5.2 boards per game. They are shooting .435 from the field, .435 from three-point range (30-for-69) and .820 from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting .483 from the field and .378 from beyond the arc.
Guard/forward Larry Tucker leads the team in both scoring and rebounding with his 13.8 and 5.3 respective figures. The 6-4 senior scored a season-high 20 points against Ohio State. Junior forward Jimmy Boykin averages 12.3 points and 3.7 boards per outing and has made a team-high 15 three-pointers on 28 attempts for a .536 mark. He is shooting .509 from the field and has only attempted four free throws (made three). Freshman point guard Raheem Scott averages 7.8 points and a team-high 4.2 assists. Fellow freshman guard Deke Thompson averages 6.8 points per game and is shooting .455 from long distance (10-for-22). An Oklahoma native, Thompson played at Jenks High School before attending Army (N.J.) Prep last year.
The winningest head coach in Coppin State basketball history, Ron "Fang" Mitchell is in his 17th year at the school where he owns a 276-202 record (.577). He is in his 25th year as a collegiate coach and owns a 503-247 mark (.671). The five-time MEAC Coach of the Year has posted six 20-win seasons over the past 13 years and has guided the Eagles to 11 straight winning seasons. Mitchell guided Coppin to a share of nine MEAC regular season titles during the 1990s.
COPPIN STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma sports a perfect 8-0 all-time record against Coppin State and is 5-0 against the Eagles under Kelvin Sampson. The Sooners were victors in 1990-91 (98-79), 1991-92 (97-70), 1993-94 (79-64), 1994-95 (85-74), 1996-97 (88-64), 1997-98 (83-72), 1998-99 (68-42) and 2000-01 (103-49). Sampson is 6-0 against Coppin State as his 1993-94 Washington State squad posted a first-round San Juan Shootout win against the Eagles.
HOLIDAY FAMILY PACKS MAKE GREAT GIFT IDEA
For all home games during the month of December, Holiday Family Packs can be purchased for $10. Each Holiday Family Pack includes a game ticket, a coupon for a free hot dog and small soda, and a coupon redeemable for a free OU t-shirt. A minimum purchase of four packages is required and all orders must be made at least one day in advance of the game. Holiday Family Packs make great gift ideas. Call the OU Ticket Office at 405-325-2424 or 800-456-4668 for more information.
The Sooners have won 17 straight games in the month of December dating back to a 60-55 loss at Mississippi on Dec. 2, 2000.
A ROSY PRE-GAME PRESENTATION
During a ceremony prior to Saturday's Coppin State game, Tournament of Roses President Gary Thomas will officially present the "Roses" to OU football head coach Bob Stoops. The presentation will formally represent the Sooners' invitation to participate in the 89th Rose Bowl game vs. Pac-10 Champion Washington State on Jan. 1, 2003, in Pasadena, Calif. The OU football team is 11-2 and wrapped up its second Big 12 title in three years by beating Colorado 29-7 last Saturday in Houston, Texas.
DEFENSE IMPROVES, BUT...
Oklahoma limited Hartford to .313 field goal shooting last game and dropped the Sooners' field goal percentage defense figure from .480 to .448. Despite the rather large statistical improvement, OU still ranks last in the Big 12 in the category with Texas Tech ranking 11th at .426. Eight of the 12 conference teams are holding opponents to sub-.400 shooting.
Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson has long stressed protecting the basketball and his OU squads have heeded his words over the years. The Sooners ranked second in the Big 12 last year by averaging just 11.9 turnovers per game. OU led the league in 2000-01 and 1999-00 by averaging just 12.7 and 12.8 miscues per outing, respectively. Some things don't change -- the Sooners lead the Big 12 this season with only 11.2 turnovers per contest.
ERE STELLAR AT START
Guard Ebi Ere has started his senior season with a bang. The 6-5, 215-pounder has led the Sooners in scoring each game (24, 14, 27, 16 and 33 points) and leads the Big 12 with his 22.8 points per outing. He also averages a team-high-tying 6.8 rebounds (ranks 13th in Big 12). Last year he shot .427 from the field but so far this year he sports a .525 figure. Ere also averages 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals per outing. Against Princeton in the Sooner Invitational championship game, he registered 27 points (two shy of his then-career high), seven rebounds, a career-high six assists, a blocked shot and two steals. In OU's last game against Hartford, he set a career high with 33 points and added eight boards, three assists and a steal in 28 minutes.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 15.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game this season. He has already passed six players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry and Al Beal) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands 16th on the career list with 1,287 points and needs 51 points to tie Mookie Blaylock for 15th. 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 (.832), sixth in three-point field goal attempts (430), sixth in three-point field goals (157), sixth in steals (180), seventh in minutes played (3,307), eighth in assists (381) 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 concluded 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."
JOHNSTON PROVIDES SPARK OFF BENCH
Energetic sophomore backup point guard Blake Johnston has performed extremely well when filling in for senior Quannas White. Johnston, who has played 15.4 minutes per game, is averaging 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.6 turnovers and 1.0 steals. He is shooting .500 from the field (10-for-20) and .500 from three-point land (7-for-14). Johnston's three-point mark ranks fourth in the Big 12 while his 4.3 assist-to-turnover ratio would rank second if he averaged enough assists per game to qualify for the stat. Twice this season he has hit buzzer-beating three-pointers to end first-half play.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
While preseason publications raved about OU's experienced veterans, fanfare about the team's newcomers paled in comparison. Four freshmen have seen significant minutes in the early going this year. Forward Kevin Bookout is averaging 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting a team-high .611 from the field in 28.4 minutes per game. He became just the second freshman under ninth-year OU coach Kelvin Sampson to start the first game of a season. Guard De'Angelo Alexander is averaging 5.2 points and 4.4 boards in 17.8 minutes per outing and registered a game-high 25 in the team's second exhibition contest. Center Larry Turner is averaging 1.6 points and 1.8 boards in 9.6 minutes per contest. Redshirt freshman forward Matt Gipson is averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per outing. Collectively, the quartet has scored 100 points (20.0 per game) and grabbed 69 boards (13.8 per game).
A CHARITY CASE
Oklahoma has traditionally been a sound free throw shooting team under Kelvin Sampson as seven of his previous 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 is again off to a great free throw shooting start this season. Through five games, the Sooners own a .773 free throw mark.
HOME IS WHERE THE "W" IS
Lloyd Noble Center has always been extremely kind to the Sooners. Oklahoma, which posted a perfect 16-0 mark at home last year and is 4-0 this season, is 345-59 (.854) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 108-16 (.871) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 26 straight. The 26-game home winning streak is OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
SAMPSON SIGNS STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
Oklahoma signed four high-schoolers to national letters of intent Nov. 13. 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.
OU RANKED NO. 1 BY ESPN.COM
ESPN.com ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason power poll Nov. 13. 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."
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.
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).
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.
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...