Feb. 7, 2003
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Ranked seventh in this week's AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today version, Oklahoma (15-3 overall, 6-1 Big 12) will host unranked Baylor (10-8, 1-6) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CST inside Lloyd Noble Center. The second of two regular season matchups between the teams will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City, KFAQ 1170 AM in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The matcup will be televised regionally by ESPN Plus (KOCB Ch. 34 in OKC, KJRH Ch. 2 in Tulsa) with Dave Armstrong and Paul Splittorff announcing.
Saturday's game is sold out. However, a limited number of $20 restricted admission tickets will go on sale at 1:30 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center north and east ticket windows.
REUNION SET FOR SATURDAY
A reunion of former OU men's basketball players and coaching staff members will take place on Saturday. Baylor head coach Dave Bliss, who directed the 1978-79 Sooners to the Big Eight Conference regular season title and their first NCAA Tournament in 32 years, will be saluted before the game along with his former OU assistant coach (and current Baylor assistant) Doug Ash. Also introduced before the game will be members of that 1979 Oklahoma squad, including Big Eight Player of the Year John McCullough, Al Beal, Cary Carrabine, Aaron Curry and Ray Whitley. A halftime ceremony will feature the introduction of several former Sooners, including Ernie Abercrombie, Alvan Adams, Bobby Jack, Darryl "Choo" Kennedy, David Little, Bo Overton, Brent Price, head coach Billy Tubbs and many more.
AVERAGES BAYLOR PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 44 Lawrence Roberts (6-9, 230, So.) 15.1 9.4 C 34 R.T. Guinn (6-10, 240, Jr.) 9.1 5.1 G 3 Kenny Taylor (6-3, 185, So.) 13.3 2.3 G 4 Ellis Kidd (6-4, 185, So.) 4.4 1.1 G 15 John Lucas (5-11, 155, So.) 14.5 2.3
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 10.3 6.1 C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) 6.6 5.7 G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) 16.1 5.6 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 7.2 3.7 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 19.2 2.7
STATISTICAL COMPARISON Category Oklahoma Baylor Overall Record 15-3 10-8 Big 12 Record 6-1 1-6 Points Per Game 73.4 71.8 Opponent Points Per Game 60.9 65.7 Rebounds Per Game 38.4 35.3 Opponent Rebounds Per Game 31.9 37.8 Field Goal Pct. .448 .418 Opponent Field Goal Pct. .410 .431 3-Point Pct. .355 .355 Opponent 3-Point Pct. .345 .308 Free Throw Pct. .719 .740 Personal Fouls Per Game 18.8 16.2 Assists Per Game 14.3 14.6 Turnovers Per Game 11.6 13.4 Blocked Shots Per Game 3.3 3.3 Steals Per Game 7.9 9.2
A winner of five straight and nine of its last 10, Oklahoma returns home after recording a 91-89 overtime road victory over Kansas State last Saturday. Against the Wildcats, Oklahoma shot .544 from the field and .500 from three-point range to help pull out the win. Starting guards Ebi Ere (25 points), Hollis Price (22) and Quannas White (19) produced 69 percent of OU's points and went a combined 20-for-36 from the field (.556). Freshman forward Kevin Bookout netted 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The Oklahoma victory snapped Kansas State's nine-game home winning streak. The Sooners will be looking to extend their 33-game Lloyd Noble Center winning streak against Baylor (it is the nation's longest current homecourt streak).
Price, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, ranks third in the league with his 19.2 points per game, first in free throw percentage (.936) and fourth in three-pointers per game (2.7). In league games, he ranks first in scoring (20.3 ppg), first in free throw percentage (.966) and second in treys per game (3.4). He moved into ninth place on OU's career scoring list on Saturday (1,554 points) and currently ranks as the school's career leader in free throw percentage (.853). In addition to his 19.2 points per contest, he also averages 2.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals.
Prior to the last two games, Ere had averaged 6.3 points over OU's previous four contests and shot .188 (9-for-48) from the field during the four-game span. The senior snapped out of the funk in a big way last week by averaging 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in wins over Texas A&M and Kansas State. Ere is now averaging 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per outing on the season. White, the team's third starting senior guard, is averaging 7.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists. He leads the Big 12 with a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio and averages just 1.0 turnover per game. His 19 points at Kansas State on Saturday marked a season high and the second most of his career.
In the frontcourt, Bookout has emerged as one of the conference's better big men. The forward averages 10.2 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best .589 from the field. In league games, he's averaging 13.4 points and 7.3 boards while shooting a Big 12-best .618. Sophomore forward Johnnie Gilbert replaced junior center Jabahri Brown in the starting lineup the last three games and averaged 6.3 boards. Brown sat out the Baylor game after sustaining a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his left knee during pregame warm-ups and missed the Texas A&M game so he could fly home to attend the funeral of a friend. He came off the bench at Kansas State to record five points, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Brown averages 6.6 points, 5.7 boards and 1.5 rejections per outing on the season.
After posting a 9-2 non-conference record, Baylor lost its first six Big 12 games (five against ranked opponents) before a 77-69 home win over Texas A&M on Tuesday. Sophomores John Lucas and Lawrence Roberts scored 24 and 23 points, respectively, while Roberts and junior R.T. Guinn pulled down 10 rebounds apiece. The Bears rank fifth nationally with 9.5 three-point makes per game and pace the Big 12 in league games only with 8.4 per contest. Baylor's .740 free throw figures leads the conference but its .418 field goal mark ranks 11th. Baylor also ranks last in the league in rebounding margin at -2.5 per game.
A trio of sophomores are averaging double digits in scoring with forward Roberts leading the way at 15.1. Guards Lucas and Kenny Taylor average 14.5 and 13.3 points per game, respectively. Roberts ranks third in the league with 9.4 rebounds per contest while Lucas also averages team highs in assists (4.6) and steals (1.7) per game. Taylor leads the Big 12 with his 3.4 three-pointers per game and is shooting .411 from beyond the arc. Sixty-two of his 78 field goals this year have been treys. Guinn, a center, averages 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting .382 from three-point territory.
In his fourth year at Baylor, head coach Dave Bliss ranks 12th among active Division I coaches in victories with 522 (against 322 losses). He owns a 57-50 record with the Bears. Bliss, who began his head coaching career at OU in 1975, posted a 77-62 record in Norman and was the Big Eight Coach of the Year twice in his five years. He guided OU to the 1979 NCAA Tournament, its first since 1947.
BAYLOR SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma leads the overall series with Baylor, 22-5, and is 10-2 in games in Norman. Kelvin Sampson is 15-0 against the Bears as OU's head coach and is 6-0 at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have won the last 17 meetings, including a 67-54 triumph two Saturdays ago in Waco. Freshman Kevin Bookout scored a career-high 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds while senior Hollis Price added 17 points, five boards and five assists as OU shot .526 from the field and held Baylor to a .356 figure. The Sooners outrebounded the Bears by a 40-22 count and grabbed 15 offensive boards compared to BU's seven. Sophomore Johnnie Gilbert started for an injured Jabahri Brown and had seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds. John Lucas scored 15 points to lead Baylor while Carlton Dotson added 10 off the bench. The win was Kelvin Sampson's 200th as OU's head coach.
KANSAS STATE LEFTOVERS
OU owns winning streaks of two or more games against eight of the Big 12's other 11 teams. The Sooners have won 17 straight against Baylor, nine versus Missouri, eight against Texas, seven over Texas A&M, five against Kansas State, three versus Nebraska, three versus Colorado and two against Iowa State. OU has also won three of its last four against Texas Tech and two of its last three versus Kansas.
PRICE NEARING 100 WINS
Oklahoma needs two more victories to give Hollis Price 100 for his career. Since the senior guard became a Sooner, OU owns a 99-22 (.818) record. Price missed last year's Texas Southern game, an Oklahoma win, so he has played in 98 Sooner victories. Darryl "Choo" Kennedy (1984-87) holds the school record for most victories by an individual player with 107. Tim McCalister (also 1984-87) won 106 games as a Sooner.
LATE SEASON SUCCESS
Since Kelvin Sampson became OU's head coach prior to the 1994-95 season, the Sooners are 52-19 (.732) in February and March regular season games. Oklahoma is 29-7 (.806) in those two months over the last four-plus seasons (1-0 this year). Last season, OU posted an 8-1 regular season mark in February and March with its only loss coming in overtime at Oklahoma State.
SAMPSON'S SUCCESS VS. STATE OF TEXAS
Oklahoma owns an impressive 66-9 (.880) record against teams from the state of Texas under Kelvin Sampson. Against Big 12 foes Baylor (15-0), Texas (14-3), Texas A&M (13-1) and Texas Tech (9-5), OU is 51-9 (.850) under Sampson. The Sooners are 4-0 against Texas schools this year.
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 11-0 this season, is 352-59 (.856) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 115-16 (.878) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 33 straight. The 33-game home winning streak is OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is the nation's longest current streak.
Oklahoma has had its share of success on the road under Kelvin Sampson with a 35-20 (.636) record in its last 55 true away contests. In Big 12 play, OU is 31-15 (.674) in its last 46 road contests. The Sooners have finished 5-3 in four of the last five seasons in conference road play and went 6-2 in 1998-99. Kansas (38-13), Oklahoma (32-20) and Texas (28-23) are the only schools with a winning road record since the Big 12 was formed.
Oklahoma has played 18 games this season and, remarkably, only three opponents have registered more assists than turnovers. Princeton (13 assists, 10 turnovers), Texas Tech (12 assists, 9 turnovers) and Kansas State (16 assists, 10 turnovers) all did it. OU foes have recorded 73 more turnovers than assists this season (difference of 4.1 per game).
Kansas State scored 89 points in Saturday's overtime game, 21 more than any of the previous 17 opponents this season. Oklahoma has held two opponents to point totals in the 40s, five in the 50s and 10 in the 60s. The last time OU held 17 straight opponents to 68 points or less in a single season was the 1950-51 campaign (first 22 games of the year). On the season, OU is holding opponents to 60.9 points per game, second fewest in the Big 12. The last time OU held opponents to 60.9 points per game over the course of an entire season was 1977-78 (58.2 under head coach Dave Bliss). The lowest opponent scoring average by Kelvin Sampson's Sooners was 61.9 in 1998-99, a year in which OU went to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Senior Hollis Price attempted 99 free throws last year (2.8 per game). This year, however, Price has already attempted 94 foul shots (5.2 per game). He has made 48-of-50 free throws over the last nine games and 47 of his last 48 tries. Price had a streak of 27 consecutive makes snapped at Oklahoma State Jan. 13 (Ryan Minor holds the school record with 30 consecutive makes during the 1995-96 season) but has started another streak that now stands at 20. Price leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally with his .936 season free throw mark and ranks first on the OU career free throw percentage chart with an .853 figure (Bo Overton shot .852 from 1980 to 1983). John Ontjes holds the OU single-season record (.867 in 1993-94).
A TOP-10 HIT
Oklahoma is ranked No. 7 in this week's AP poll. That makes it 24 consecutive weeks that OU has appeared in the poll's top 10 (dating back to Jan. 5 last year). The Sooners were ranked No. 3 in last season's final edition and debuted in the same spot this year.
OU's starting guard trio of Ebi Ere, Hollis Price and Quannas White undoubtedly forms one of the nation's top backcourts. The senior threesome has accounted for 58 percent of the team's points, 64 percent of its assists and 48 percent of its steals. The three guards have also made 76 percent of OU's three-pointers on the year and 68 percent of its free throws.
HEAVY IN THE BACK(COURT)
Sooner backcourt members have scored 912 of the team's 1,321 points this year. That means 69 percent of OU's scoring has come from its guards. The guards have also registered 211 of the team's 258 assists (82 percent).
OU BOARDING SCHOOL
Since being outrebounded by Alabama (38-32) and UC Irvine (31-29) in their first two games of the year, the Sooners have posted an average rebounding margin of +7.8. Oklahoma registered a season-high 52 boards against Colorado Jan. 11 and outboarded Baylor two Saturdays ago by a 40-22 count. On the season, Oklahoma is outrebounding its opponents by a 6.5 margin per game.
Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson has long stressed protecting the ball 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. The Sooners, who only had six turnovers Jan. 13 against Oklahoma State (its fewest since committing five vs. Arizona in last year's Sweet 16) rank first in the Big 12 this season with only 11.6 turnovers per game. Also, OU has committed the same or fewer turnovers than its foes in 14 of 18 games this year and in 26 of the last 31 games dating back to last season.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 19.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season. He has already passed 12 players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry, Al Beal, Mookie Blaylock, David Johnson, Terry Evans, Harvey Grant, Chucky Barnett, John McCullough and Don Sidle) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands ninth on the career list with 1,554 points and needs 92 points to tie Eduardo Najera for eighth. 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 first in career free throw percentage (.853), third in three-point field goals (196), third in three-point field goal attempts (520), fourth in minutes played (3,742), fifth in steals (192), seventh in assists (423) and 10th in steals per game (1.6).
Price was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by league coaches and media and is also a 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.
ERE HOT, THEN COLD, NOW HOT AGAIN
Guard Ebi Ere had a stellar start to his senior season but cooled considerably the next four games. The 6-5, 215-pounder led the Sooners in scoring in eight of the first 12 games and boasted an 18.4 scoring average after those 12 contests. Over the next four games, however, Ere averaged 6.3 points on a combined 9-for-48 (.188) field goal and 2-for-16 (.125) three-point shooting. He has broken the single-digit scoring skid by netting 18 against Texas A&M and 25 at Kansas State the past two games. Ere now averages 16.1 points (12.6 in Big 12 play), 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per outing.
THE BOOK ON BOOKOUT
Freshman Kevin Bookout was thrown to the wolves in the non-conference season, facing noted big men Erwin Dudley (Alabama), Mario Austin (Mississippi State), Aloysius Anagonye (Michigan State) and Emeka Okafor (Connecticut). The experience has seemed to pay off for the 6-8, 260-pound forward as he is averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds while shooting .618 in OU's seven conference games. Over the past six games, Bookout has averaged 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting a remarkable .650 (39-for-60). He has started all 18 games and is averaging 10.3 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds on the season, and boasts a .589 mark from the field in 29.8 minutes per contest. A second-team Parade All-American last year, Bookout became just the second freshman under ninth-year OU coach Kelvin Sampson to start the first game of a season (guard Prince Fowler was the other in 1994-95).
MORE ON BOOKOUT
Kevin Bookout's 10.3 points per game marks the highest scoring average by an OU freshman since Jeff Webster's 18.3 in 1990-91. His 6.1 rebounds per outing are the most by a frosh since Ryan Humphrey's 6.5 in 1997-98 and second most since David Johnson's 6.2 in 1983-84. Bookout's scoring and rebounding numbers compare favorably to freshman figures of some of OU's top players over the last decade. Ryan Minor averaged 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 1992-93, Eduardo Najera averaged 7.0 and 5.6 in 1996-97 and Hollis Price averaged 7.2 and 2.2 in 1999-2000.
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 solid free throw shooting start this season. Through 18 games, the Sooners own a .719 free throw mark, third best in the Big 12.
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 ENTERING 2002-03...