Nov. 13, 1999
NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma men's basketball team racked up its 25th consecutive exhibition victory with a 92-87 win against Athletes First Saturday night in front of a paid crowd of 9,478 at Lloyd Noble Center. The contest marked the final exhibition of the year for the Sooners, who begin regular season play next Friday versus Montana State at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Eduardo Najera poured in a game-high 31 points, his most ever in a Sooner uniform, and added a game-high nine rebounds, three assists and a steal in 39 minutes of play. The senior preseason All-American canned 12-of-21 field goal attempts and was 4-for-8 from three-point land. Junior Tim Heskett scored all 11 of his points in the first half while freshman Jarrett Hart contributed 10 points. Sophomore J.R. Raymond served a suspension for violating a team rule and did not dress for the game.
"I need to have patience with these young kids," said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson following the game. "All these players that we faced tonight are former college players. We played against good individuals, but we were disappointed in our defense and our effort. The key is to go back to practice and get better. Teams are rarely good during the exhibition season."
The Sooners opened the game by taking an 18-8 lead and led at the break, 44-33. OU extended its advantage to 17, 72-55, at the 9:48 mark on a Najera trey before Athletes First ended the game on a 32-20 run. Chad Wilkerson, who made all 12 of his free throw attempts, led Athletes First with 24 points. Former Sooners James Mayden and Lou Moore added 12 and three points, respectively, for a team that shot .714 (20-for-28) from the field in the second half.
"We have to make a commitment to play good team defense," said Najera, "otherwise anyone can beat us. Coach Sampson is going to come ready to work next week and so are we."
Oklahoma faces Montana State Friday at midnight CST. The Sooners will play either George Washington or Indiana State on Saturday and will take on California, Houston, TCU or tournament host Alaska-Fairbanks on Sunday.