Dec. 6, 1999
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NORMAN, Okla. - Undefeated Oklahoma (6-0) travels to Fayetteville, Ark., Tuesday where it will face Arkansas (4-1) in its first true road game of the season at 7:05 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena. The game will be broadcast on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City). Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) will call the action. The contest will also be televised locally by the Sooner Sports Network (NewsNow 53 in Oklahoma City and KTUL Channel 8 in Tulsa). Dean Blevins (play-by-play) and Charlie Spoonhour (analyst) will announce.
The Sooners ran their season-opening winning streak to six games with an 81-73 victory over previously unbeaten Mississippi Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center. Senior forward Eduardo Najera, who leads OU with his 19.3 points-per-game average, carried the team to an 18-point second half lead and scored a game-high 22 points, while sophomore guard J.R. Raymond, averaging 18.5 points per outing, added 17. Both Najera and Raymond have scored in double figures in all six games.
True freshman Hollis Price saw his most extensive action of the season versus Mississippi and was a major contributor. The 6-1, 165-pound guard played 28 minutes and registered career highs in points (11), assists (8) and steals (4). The assist and steal figures were OU individual season bests.
The Sooners, who shot .500 or better from the field just three times in 32 games last year, have already shot at least .500 four times this season. Oklahoma owns .494 field goal, .423 three-point and .773 free throw marks so far, all significantly higher than last season's .421, .388 and .651 respective figures.
OKLAHOMA PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||5||Nolan Johnson (6-4, 215, Jr.)||9.7||4.7||1.8|
|F||21||Eduardo Najera (6-8, 240, Sr.)||19.3||7.7||1.7|
|C||33||Renzi Stone (6-10, 250, Sr.)||5.0||3.5||1.5|
|G||11||J.R. Raymond (6-2, 175, So.)||18.5||4.5||2.8|
|G||14||Tim Heskett (6-1, 185, Jr.)||9.2||2.0||1.8|
ARKANSAS PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||31||Alonzo Lane (6-7, 240, Fr.)||10.8||4.2||1.0|
|F||43||Carl Baker (6-8, 200, Fr.)||4.6||6.4||1.4|
|G||4||Jason Gilbert (5-11, 175, So.)||6.8||1.2||1.2|
|G||13||Brandon Dean (6-1, 190, So.)||10.8||2.6||2.2|
|G||41||Chris Walker (6-5, 220, Sr.)||15.6||5.2||3.0|
Arkansas improved to 4-1 by pounding Jackson State by a 98-60 score Saturday in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won their first two games of the season (102-95 at home in overtime against Texas-Arlington and 71-54 vs. Mercer in the first round of the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii) before losing to Iowa State (77-71). The team bounced back for a 79-60 win over Santa Clara in its final day in Hawaii.
Senior guard Chris Walker leads the team in scoring (15.6 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg) and ranks second in rebounding (5.2 rpg). He has also made a team-high 13 three-pointers on 25 attempts for a .520 percentage. Sophomore guard Brandon Dean and freshman forward Alonzo Lane both average 10.8 points per game to rank second on the squad. The Razorbacks' leading rebounder (6.4 rpg) is freshman forward Carl Baker, the tallest player on the roster (along with Dionisio Gomez) at 6-8.
Head Coach Nolan Richardson, in his 15th season at Arkansas, is 341-130 (.724) at the school. He is in his 20th year overall and owns a career record of 460-167 (.734).
Oklahoma/Arkansas Statistical Comparison
|65.0||Opponent Points Average||69.2|
|30.3||Opponent Rebounding Average||40.6|
|.494||Field Goal Percentage||.451|
|.437||Opponent Field Goal Percentage||.405|
|.398||Opponent 3-Pt. Percentage||.333|
|.773||Free Throw Percentage||.610|
|18.5||Personal Fouls Average||17.2|
|1.5||Blocked Shots Average||3.8|
Series with Arkansas
Tuesday's game will mark the 19th meeting between the two teams and the eighth in Fayetteville. Arkansas leads the series, 12-6, and owns a 6-1 advantage at home. The Sooners' lone victory in Fayetteville came during the 1939-40 season in their first ever game there, 49-36. OU last played at Arkansas in 1990-91 in the preseason NIT (lost 110-88.) The Razorbacks won the six matchups prior to last season's 87-57 Oklahoma victory in Norman. OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson is 1-1 against the Razorbacks with his defeat coming during the 1994-95 season (his first year at Oklahoma) in the first round of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, 86-84.
Last Year Versus the Razorbacks
Oklahoma recorded an 87-57 win over 19th-ranked Arkansas on Dec. 5 in Norman last year in front of a national ESPN audience. The Sooners shot .492 from the field and .500 (13-for-26) from three-point land while holding the Razorbacks to .393 field goal and .231 three-point shooting marks. Oklahoma also outrebounded Arkansas by a 45-31 margin. Senior Eric Martin paced the Sooners with his then-career-high 23 points, thanks to 7-of-8 shooting (5-of-6 from beyond the arc), and was named Big 12 Player of the Week for his effort. Tim Heskett added five three-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Eduardo Najera scored 11 of his 13 points in the opening 4:30 of the second half. Senior Derek Hood paced Arkansas with 12 points and 11 rebounds. OU, which led 37-27 at intermission, went on a 16-6 run to open the second half and cruised to the victory.
Recapping the Mississippi Contest
The Sooners used their fourth .500-or-better shooting performance of the season (.549) to upend Mississippi Saturday in Norman, 81-73. Oklahoma, which led by as many as 18 in the second half, received a game-high 22 points from Eduardo Najera and 17 from J.R. Raymond as it improved to 6-0. Hollis Price scored a career-high 11 points and added career highs in assists (8) and steals (4). OU stretched its 36-31 halftime lead by scoring on 10 consecutive second-half possessions. Mississippi, which held a 6-0 record entering the contest, grabbed 31 rebounds to the Sooners' 24. It marked the first time this season that Oklahoma was outrebounded. The Rebels' Rahim Lockhart recorded his seventh double-double in as many games with 13 points and 10 boards.
Following Tuesday's contest, Oklahoma will return to Norman for a three-game homestand. OU will host Arkansas-Little Rock Dec. 11, Georgia Southern Dec. 18 and No.1-ranked Cincinnati Dec. 22. The Cincinnati contest will be televised on ESPN.
Sooners Look to Continue Success on Road
The Sooners, who were 6-3 on the road last season, have won 14 of their last 21 road contests dating back to the 1996-97 season. Last year, OU beat Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas and Missouri away from home while it lost at Cincinnati, Kansas State and Texas A&M.
Najera Climbing OU Charts
Preseason All-American and John R. Wooden Award candidate Eduardo Najera is off to a solid start. The senior forward is averaging 19.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game to lead the team. He was named Top of the World Classic MVP in mid-November and was also named to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team. Najera, who shot .415 from the field and .642 from the free throw line last year, has posted .484 and .821 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 24th (1,137 points) and 14th (642 rebounds). Najera needs 17 points to move into 23rd place on the all-time scoring list (ahead of Willie Rogers) and 37 points to move into the 22nd slot (ahead of Brent Price). In six games this season, he has already passed Cary Carrabine (1,034 points), Scott Martin (1,078), Joe King (1,085), Damon Patterson (1,099) and Terry Stotts (1,104) in career scoring.
Raymond Scores 29 in Collegiate Debut
Sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond made 9-of-16 field goal attempts, including 5-of-9 three-point tries, and finished with a game-high 29 points against Montana State in his collegiate debut Nov. 19 in Fairbanks, Alaska. 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.
Raymond, who sat out his freshman season as a partial qualifier, ranks second on the team in scoring (18.5 ppg) and assists (2.8 apg), and has made a team-high 21 three-pointers on 41 attempts (.512). He is shooting .500 from the field and .818 from the charity stripe.
Freshman Price Makes Impact
True freshman Hollis Price played a career-high 28 minutes in OU's 81-73 win over previously unbeaten Mississippi Saturday and recorded career highs in points (11), assists (8) and steals (4). In his last two games, the guard is averaging 9.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals in 21.0 minutes per outing. Price is shooting .588 from the field, .500 from three-point land and .818 from the foul line on the season.
Sampson Starts 6-0 for Third Time in Six Seasons
For the third time in six seasons as OU's head coach, Kelvin Sampson has started the year with six straight victories. The Sooners' best starts were 7-0 performances in the 1994-95 and the 1996-97 seasons.
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 109-55 (.665) record and a 65-13 (.833) 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
|1981-82||Montana Tech||7-20 (.259)|
|1982-83||Montana Tech||22-9 (.710)|
|1983-84||Montana Tech||22-7 (.759)|
|1984-85||Montana Tech||22-9 (.710)|
|1987-88||Washington State||13-16 (.448)|
|1988-89||Washington State||10-19 (.345)|
|1989-90||Washington State||7-22 (.241)|
|1990-91||Washington State||16-12 (.571)|
|1991-92||Washington State||22-11 (.667)|
|1992-93||Washington State||15-12 (.556)|
|1993-94||Washington State||20-11 (.645)|
Big 12 Begins Season in Fine Fashion
Heading into Monday, Big 12 schools have posted a 53-13 (.791) cumulative record. Besides Oklahoma (6-0), undefeated teams include Kansas (6-0) and Oklahoma State (6-0). Three squads have captured neutral-court tournament crowns: Oklahoma won the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska (beat Montana State, George Washington and California), Kansas won the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska (beat Georgia, Xavier and Georgia Tech), and Texas won the Puerto Rico Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico (beat Arizona State, DePaul and Michigan State). Iowa State finished second at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii, losing only to top-ranked Cincinnati in the championship game.
- In its last two games, Oklahoma has recorded 31 assists and just 19 turnovers.
- J.R. Raymond is averaging 3.5 three-point makes per game and is shooting .512 from beyond the arc.
- Fifteen of Tim Heskett's 16 field goal conversions have been three-pointers while all eight of Kelley Newton's field goal makes have been treys.
- Oklahoma averaged 3.9 blocked shots per game last year. This season, OU is averaging 1.5 blocks.
- Tim Heskett boasts a 3.7 assist/turnover ratio (11 assists and just three turnovers) while Hollis Price owns a 1.8 ratio (11 assists and six turnovers).
- The Sooners are averaging 8.7 three-point makes per game. Last season, OU set a school record with its 8.6 treys per outing.
- Of Renzi Stone's 21 rebounds, 12 (57 percent) have been offensive.
Sooners Ink Four Standouts
Head Coach Kelvin Sampson announced Nov. 10 that four players have signed national letters of intent to attend Oklahoma next year. Expected to join the Sooner program are prep players Johnnie Gilbert and James Wright, and junior college players Aaron McGhee and Daryan Selvy.
Recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said, "This class will be ranked no lower than 15th nationally. And it should wind up being a top-10 class."
A third-team All-State performer last year at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, Minn., Gilbert, 6-7 and 220 pounds, averaged 14.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.0 blocked shots per outing while leading his squad to a 21-4 record and an appearance in the state championship quarterfinals. This preseason, Patrick Henry is ranked No. 1 in Minnesota's 4A class. Gibbons rates Gilbert as the nation's 88th-best senior.
An athletic wing player, Wright is the Wisconsin state record holder in the high jump. He averaged 10.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocked shots as a senior last year at Vincent High School in Milwaukee, Wis. At 6-6 and 210 pounds, Wright experienced tremendous success in his four years at Vincent, helping his teams to state titles as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and a four-year 97-10 record. Following his junior season, Vincent was ranked seventh nationally by Street & Smith's and ninth nationally by USA Today. This year, Wright is attending The Winchendon (prep) School in Winchendon, Mass. According to Gibbons, he is one of the 10 best post-graduate prep players in the country.
The 6-8, 250-pound McGhee, who hails from Aurora, Ill., was regarded as one of the 50 best players in the nation his senior year at Aurora East High School where he was a two-time All-State selection. As a senior, he earned honorable mention All-America honors from USA Today and The Sporting News after averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.9 blocked shots and 2.3 steals per game. He guided East to a 24-3 record that year and went on to earn MVP honors in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association state all-star game. He originally signed with Cincinnati and sat out the 1997-98 season. Last year with the Bearcats, McGhee played in 30 games and averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per contest. Against Southern Mississippi, the forward scored a career-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Gibbons considers him one of the country's top 15 junior college players.
Selvy, who attended the same high school as former first-team All-Big 12 guard Corey Brewer, is a sophomore at Carl Albert Junior College in Poteau, Okla., also the same junior college Brewer attended. Last year, Selvy averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. As a senior at West Memphis, he guided his team to a state championship. Greg Swaim of Midwest Basketball rates him as the 20th-best junior college sophomore in the nation. Selvy stands 6-6 and weighs 215 pounds.
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 now 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:
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 will 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" will be 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.