Nov. 21, 1999
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Senior forward Eduardo Najera scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Oklahoma mens basketball team to a 73-54 semifinal victory over George Washington at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, Saturday. The win propelled the Sooners, now 2-0 this season, into Sundays championship game against California.
Oklahoma used .458 field goal shooting, .476 three-point shooting and an .864 effort from the free throw line to turn back the Colonials. George Washington posted just .339, .222 and .615 respective marks. The Colonials, who shot just .259 from the field in the second half, scored just 20 points after intermission. OU also controlled the boards by a 42-23 margin on the night.
I thought the key to the game was the second half when we limited George Washingtons second shots, said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, who improved to 7-1 against Tom Penders-coached teams. In the first half, theyd shoot and miss and then go get the rebound and put it in. We did a much better job of crashing the defensive glass after halftime.
I also thought our zone slowed them down in the second half. We made them go sideline to sideline instead of allowing them to go vertical. And when they go vertical is when theyre at their best.
Sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond, who scored 29 points Friday in his collegiate debut versus Montana State, led the Sooners again in the scoring department with 17 points thanks largely to 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He added four rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes.
Junior swing man Nolan Johnson was OUs third double-digit scorer with 11 points. The first-year Sooner also pulled down eight boards. Fellow junior guard Kelley Newton played a key role off the bench, scoring nine points on three three-pointers, all in the first half.
George Washington, which finished 20-9 last year and made the NCAA Tournament, was led in scoring by freshman SirValiant Brown, who launched 22 shots. He scored 18 points while Francisco de Miranda grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Sundays championship game will be played at 1 p.m. AST (4 p.m. CST) and will be televised nationally on FOX Sports Net. California advanced to the title contest by beating TCU Thursday (91-83) and Houston Saturday (95-70).