Sooners Open Big 12 With Romp

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 08, 2000

Jan. 8, 2000

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - With three freshmen in the starting lineup, Texas A&M coach Melvin Watkins knew this season would be a learning experience for his young team.

No. 20 Oklahoma (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) gave the young Aggies (4-8, 0-1 Big 12) lessons in rebounding and 3-point shooting Saturday in a 78-53 victory.

The Sooners outrebounded Texas A&M 36-29 and hit 10 three-pointers in the conference opener for both teams.

"Oklahoma's pressure really wore us down," Watkins said. "They played a physical game. We had a hard time handling their pressure."

Oklahoma forced 24 turnovers to win its fourth straight game.

Kelley Newton was 5-of-6 from 3-point range and had a season-high 19 points. Newton, who went into the game ranked sixth in the nation in 3-point percentage, upped his percentage to 61.0.

Bothered by a bulging disc in his back, Newton has been Oklahoma's best 3-point threat this season while coming off the bench.

"If I'm going to put my five best players on the floor I'm not sure he wouldn't be one of them right now," coach Kelvin Sampson said of the junior. "It's not a surprise to us. That's what we recruited Kelley for."

Newton helped the Oklahoma reserves outscore Texas A&M's backups 42-15 and the Aggies' starters by five points.

The Sooners used a 16-4 run to open the game and pushed their lead to 47-29 by halftime.

Fourteen of Newton's 19 points came in the first half, while Texas A&M shot 37 percent from the field.

"That's been our history this season, we've been able to play in spurts but haven't put 40 minutes together," said Watkins, whose roster includes seven freshmen. "We have so many young kids and we learn so many things every time out, something just comes up and bites us."

Aggies scoring leader Bernard King stole the ball from Newton at midcourt with under three minutes to play and had an easy dunk in front of him. The conference's top freshman scorer, lost the ball off his knee out of bounds while going up for the shot.

"This is something we can't do," said King who led the Aggies with 18 points in their most lopsided loss this season. "We realize we're a young team. When we get down we have to keep fighting and not give up. That's what we have to learn as a team."

Aaron Jack scored 11 points for the Aggies. Jameel Heywood had a career-high 12 rebounds in 17 minutes for the Sooners.



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