Nov. 21, 1999
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Oklahoma mens basketball team used a 15-0 second-half run to pull away from California and win the championship game of the Top of the World Classic, 75-58, in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sunday. Oklahoma won all three games of the tournament and stands at 3-0 to start the season.
Preseason All-American Eduardo Najera scored a game-high-tying 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting and added a game-high eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots to pace the Sooners. Seventeen of his points were scored after halftime when he was 8-for-11 from the floor.
The keys today were our ability to pound it inside, our rebounding and our fresh legs from our bench, said Sooner Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. I thought our bench really gave us a spark. Jameel Heywood and Hollis Price came in and got us going with their quickness. Thats when we started to extend our pressure really overplay and deny. I thought we did a good job of taking them out of their offense.
Ahead by two points at the 13:27 mark of the second half, Oklahoma scored the next 15 points to take a 61-44 lead. Najera scored six points during the stretch while Price contributed five.
Our shot selection in the last 12 minutes was tremendous. Almost all of our shots were from the free throw line or in the paint. Thats a sign of a smart team, added Sampson.
The Sooners shot .607 from the field in the second half and recorded a .518 mark for the game. OU also shot .348 from three-point land and .900 from the foul line.
Playing a late game last night, we were tired, said Najera. But we knew Cal was tired too. It just came down to who wanted it more and I think we showed that we did.
The Bears, who shot .439 from the field, .250 from beyond the arc and .556 from the foul line, were led in scoring by freshman Nick Vander Laans 23 points. The forward made 10-of-15 shots and led the team in rebounding with seven. Forward Sean Lampley, who was averaging 21.0 points and 12.0 rebounds entering the game, was held to nine points and two boards in 31 minutes.
Oklahoma returns to the court Friday and Saturday at the Sooner Holiday Classic in Norman. The Sooners will face San Diego Friday at approximately 8:15 p.m. and UC Irvine or Southwest Texas on Saturday at either 6 or 8:15 p.m.