Jan. 4, 2003

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GAME INFORMATION
Ranked 10th in this week's AP poll and 11th in the ESPN/USA Today version, Oklahoma (7-2) will face No. 14/14 Michigan State (8-3) on Saturday at 8 p.m. CST inside the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City as part of the Touchstone Energy All-College Classic. The OU-Michigan State game will follow the 5:30 p.m. Oklahoma State-BYU contest and will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The Sooners-Spartans matcup will be televised nationally with Bob Carpenter (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst) announcing. The OSU-BYU game will air on ESPN2 with the same television announcers.

                                       AVERAGES
MICHIGAN STATE PROJECTED STARTERS      PPG  RPG
F 25 Aloysius Anagonye (6-8, 260, Sr.) 8.6  6.3
F 55 Adam Ballinger (6-9, 250, Sr.)    7.3  3.5
G 5  Chris Hill (6-3, 190, So.)       16.4  3.0
G 15 Alan Anderson (6-6, 200, So.)     9.3  3.4
G 23 Kelvin Torbert (6-4, 215, So.)    9.3  3.4

OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 9.4 6.0 C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) 7.9 5.8 G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) 18.6 5.9 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 6.3 3.2 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 16.8 2.2

OKLAHOMA UPDATE
The Sooners rebounded from a 54-45 loss to Mississippi State in the Nokia Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic to down UNC Asheville on Monday night, 100-64. OU recorded season highs in several categories, including points, field goals (37), field goal percentage (.561), three-point field goals (11), three-point percentage (.478), assists (26) and blocked shots (6). Senior Ebi Ere canned 3-of-4 three-point attempts and scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Sooners to their 29th straight win at Lloyd Noble Center. Freshman Kevin Bookout scored a career-high 17 points and added a game-high seven boards while fellow freshman De'Angelo Alexander (14), senior Hollis Price (12) and junior Jabahri Brown (11) also scored in double figures. Brown also registered four blocks and four steals. Sophomore reserve point guard Blake Johnston played 25 minutes and recorded a career-high nine assists.

Ere has led the team in scoring in six games (including the season's first five contests) while Price has done it the other three. Ere paces the squad with his 18.6 points per game and averages 5.9 rebounds while Price, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, is averaging 16.8 points and 3.0 assists per outing. Price has drained a team-high 21 treys and is shooting .909 from the foul line (40-for-44). Senior point guard Quannas White leads the team with 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game and sports a superb 4.3 assist-to-turnover ratio to lead the Big 12 (just 1.0 turnover per game). White is also averaging 6.3 points per game -- 8.8 over the last four outings.

Bookout averages 9.4 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game and ranks fifth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage with a .594 figure. Brown averages 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, and has blocked a team-high 10 shots on the season (eight of those have come over the past three games).

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE
Coming off an 81-76 home loss to Toledo on Monday that ended its 36-game non-conference home winning streak, Michigan State heads to Oklahoma City with an 8-3 record. The Spartans also dropped games to Villanova (81-73) and Oklahoma State (64-61) in the Great Alaska Shootout in late November. Among their victories were an 82-75 decision over Virginia at home and a 71-67 triumph at Kentucky. MSU is shooting .488 from the field while limiting foes to a .406 figure and is outrebounding its opponents, 35.2-27.7.

Sophomore point guard Chris Hill, a Wooden Award Preseason All-American, is the only Spartan averaging double figures in points (16.4 ppg). The deadly three-point shooter has made 36 treys (3.7 per game) and leads the team with 4.5 assists per outing. Alan Anderson, another sophomore guard, averages 9.3 points and 3.2 assists per game while Kelvin Torbert, a third sophomore guard, averages 9.1 points and 3.6 boards. Senior forward Aloysius Anagonye is scoring 8.6 points per game and grabbing a team-high 6.3 rebounds.

Tom Izzo is in his eighth year as a college head coach, all at Michigan State. He owns a 175-68 (.720) record there and has taken three MSU teams to the Final Four. The Spartans won the 2000 national title.

MICHIGAN STATE SERIES HISTORY
Michigan State owns a 4-1 series lead over the Sooners with the Spartans winning 67-55 on Nov. 14 in East Lansing last year in the second round of the Preseason NIT. MSU won the first meeting between the schools in December 1956 (76-74 in overtime) in Kansas City, Mo., and won a 118-100 decision during the 1963-64 season in the Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Spartans also won a 54-46 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 contest in 1999 in St. Louis, a game that featured an infamous collision between OU's Eduardo Najera and MSU's Mateen Cleaves.

Kelvin Sampson, who served as a graduate assistant coach at Michigan State under former head coach Jud Heathcote during the 1978-79 (national title season) and 1979-80 campaigns, is 1-3 against the Spartans. Sampson's Washington State squad lost in East Lansing in 1992-93, 77-61, but rebounded for a 76-71 victory the following season in the second round of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. His Sooners lost in the previously mentioned 1999 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 contest in St. Louis, as well as last year.

LAST YEAR'S OU-MSU RECAP
Oklahoma entered its second-round Preseason NIT game at Michigan State Nov. 14 hoping to snap the Spartans' 45-game homecourt winning streak. OU trailed by five at halftime and knotted the score at 39 with 14:26 to go, but MSU used a 16-5 run to go up by 11 and eventually won by 12, 67-55. The Sooners posted just a .323 field goal mark (.286 after halftime) and a .250 (7-for-28) effort from beyond the arc. While the offense struggled, the defense was solid as it forced 20 Michigan State turnovers. The Spartans combatted their ball-handling problems with effective .561 field goal shooting. MSU shot a solid .611 in the second half. Hollis Price led OU with 18 points while also recording three assists and three steals with no turnovers. Ebi Ere added 16 points with the help of 4-of-8 three-point shooting, six rebounds and two blocks while Johnnie Gilbert totaled seven points and a team-high seven boards. Adam Ballinger led four Spartans in double figures with 13 points and he grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

UNC ASHEVILLE LEFTOVERS

  • Five Sooners scored in double figures for just the second time this season.
  • Twelve Sooners played and only Ezra Zoschke (three minutes) did not score. He did record an assist.
  • Guards Quannas White and Hollis Price teamed for seven assists and no turnovers.
  • OU's 43 points from its frontcourt were its most on the year.
  • Kevin Bookout (17), De'Angelo Alexander (14) and Michael Liggett (3) notched career highs in scoring.
  • UNC Asheville's 17 first-half points were the fewest allowed by the Sooners in any half this year.

    A SHOT IN THE ARM
    Oklahoma has shot better than .500 from the field in four of its last eight games. The Sooners failed to reach the .500 mark over the final 21 games of last season and the first game of the current campaign.

    BEEFING UP
    Kelvin Sampson said prior to this season that OU's schedule would be the most difficult he's ever played. One glance at the Sooners' late December and early January stretch and it's easy to see why. Oklahoma faced No. 8/10 Mississippi State on Saturday and played UNC Asheville on Monday. OU will now face No. 14/14 Michigan State in Oklahoma City on Friday and No. 5/5 Connecticut in Norman Jan. 7. The Sooners have already faced No. 1/3 Alabama, and four future Big 12 opponents are now ranked in the AP top 25.

    A TOP-10 HIT
    The Sooners are ranked 10th in the current AP top-25 poll, making it 19 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.

    ONE-TWO PUNCH
    Senior guards Ebi Ere (18.6) and Hollis Price (16.8) are averaging a combined 35.3 points per game, a figure that ranks toward the top among Big 12 tandems. Texas Tech's Cory Carr (23.1) and Tony Battie (18.8) averaged 41.9 per game in 1996-97 to set the league standard while OU's Nate Erdmann (20.5) and Corey Brewer (17.5) averaged 38.0 combined points per game the same season to rank fourth on the league's all-time chart.

    TERRIFIC TRIO
    OU's starting guard trio of Ebi Ere, Hollis Price and Quannas White undoubtedly forms one of the nation's top backcourts. The threesome has accounted for 53 percent of the team's points, 61 percent of its assists and 48 percent of its steals. The three guards have also made 62 percent of OU's free throws on the year and have taken 54 percent of its foul shots.

    DEFENSE IMPROVES
    In the last five games, Oklahoma has limited Hartford, Coppin State, Georgia State, Mississippi State and UNC Asheville to respective .313, .364, .383, .360 and .375 field goal marks (a collective .360), dropping the team's field goal percentage defense figure from .480 prior to the Hartford game to .413 now. Also, OU averaged just 1.0 blocked shot per game in its first four contests but is averaging 4.4 over its last five games.

    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 outboarded their last seven opponents (by 12.6 caroms per contest). Against Prairie View A&M, OU posted a 50-25 rebounding advantage (including a 27-1 margin in offensive rebounds). On the season, Oklahoma is outrebounding its opponents by an 8.9 margin per game (38.7-29.8).

    PREACHING PROTECTION
    Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson has long stressed protecting the basketball 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 rank first in the Big 12 this season with only 12.3 turnovers per game.

    GILBERT BACK IN THE FOLD
    Sophomore forward Johnnie Gilbert played in the first two games of the year and then sat out the next three due to injury. The left-hander returned to record five points and six rebounds in 19 minutes against Coppin State Dec. 14 and turned in an inspired effort against Georgia State Dec. 21 with a career-high nine points and seven boards in 19 minutes. He registered two points, four rebounds and two blocks Saturday against Mississippi State and added six points and five boards versus UNC Asheville on Monday. Gilbert is 9-for-15 from the field since his return and is now averaging 4.8 points and 4.2 rebounds over his six games.

    ERE STELLAR AT START
    Guard Ebi Ere has started his senior season with a bang. The 6-5, 215-pounder led the Sooners in scoring in six of nine games and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with his 18.6 points per outing. He also averages 5.9 rebounds to rank second on the team. Last year he shot .427 from the field but so far this year he sports a .500 figure. Ere also averages 2.7 assists and 1.0 steal per outing. Against Princeton in the Sooner Invitational championship game, he registered 27 points (two shy of his then-career high), seven rebounds, a career-high six assists, a blocked shot and two steals. Versus Hartford, he set a career high with 33 points and added eight boards, three assists and a steal in 28 minutes. Ere scored in double figures in the first seven games but was held to nine against Mississippi State on Dec. 28.

    PRICE-LESS
    One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 16.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game this season. He has already passed eight players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry, Al Beal, Mookie Blaylock and David Johnson) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands 14th on the career list with 1,360 points and needs one point to tie Terry Evans for 13th. 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 third in career free throw percentage (.838), fifth in three-point field goal attempts (458), fifth in three-point field goals (168), sixth in steals (186), seventh in minutes played (3,415), eighth in assists (393) and ninth in steals per game (1.7).

    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.

    Said OU head coach Kelvin Sampson, "To me, he's our heart and soul. Hollis embodies what we want in a Sooner basketball player. The way he practices, the way he carries himself off the court, the way he performs in the classroom, his effort and his pride are impressive. There are very few things in the future that I dread, but I can honestly tell you that I'm really, really dreading senior night. I'm going to really enjoy every minute I'm with Hollis this year because I don't know when I'll get another one like him."

    THE FUTURE IS NOW
    While preseason publications raved about OU's experienced veterans, fanfare about the team's newcomers paled in comparison. Four freshmen have seen significant minutes in the early going this year. Forward Kevin Bookout is averaging 9.4 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds while shooting a team-high .594 from the field in 27.8 minutes per game. He became just the second freshman under ninth-year OU coach Kelvin Sampson to start the first game of a season. Guard De'Angelo Alexander is averaging 6.4 points and 4.0 boards in 18.1 minutes per outing and registered a career-high 14 Dec. 30 against UNC Asheville. Center Larry Turner is averaging 1.3 points and 1.5 boards in 9.2 minutes per contest. Redshirt freshman forward Matt Gipson is averaging 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per outing. Collectively, the quartet has scored 178 points (19.8 per game) and grabbed 115 boards (12.8 per game).

    BREAKING 80
    In eight-plus years under Kelvin Sampson, the Sooners sport a 107-10 record (.915) when scoring at least 80 points. OU was 15-0 under the circumstance last year and is 5-0 this season. The Sooners have won 46 of their last 48 games (.958) when scoring 80 or more.

    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 great free throw shooting start this season. Through nine games, the Sooners own a .743 free throw mark.

    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 7-0 this season, is 348-59 (.855) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 111-16 (.874) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 29 straight. The 29-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 fourth longest current streak (BYU 41, Tennessee Tech 33 and Gonzaga 30).

    MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

  • OU entered the year with a 24-4 (.857) neutral court record over the past three seasons but is 0-2 this year.
  • Ebi Ere shot .427 from the field last year but has recorded a .500 figure so far this year.
  • Twenty-five of Ebi Ere's 53 rebounds have been offensive (47 percent) while 23 of Jabahri Brown's 52 boards (44 percent) have come on the offensive end.
  • Oklahoma led the Big 12 and set a school record last year with a .767 free throw mark. Through nine games this season, OU is shooting .743 from the foul line.
  • OU is averaging 12.3 turnovers per game while its opponents are averaging 17.2. The Sooners have committed the same or fewer turnovers than their foes in seven of eight games.
  • After starting the season just 4-for-24 from three-point range, Hollis Price has made 17 of his last 36 and now owns a .350 figure.
  • Ere has made 17 more field goals and attempted 25 more than the next closest Sooner (Hollis Price).
  • The Sooners own a 1.32 assist/turnover ratio through nine games while their foes sport a 0.62 figure.
  • With the exception of the Alabama game to start the season, OU has used the same starting lineup (Kevin Bookout, Jabahri Brown, Ebi Ere, Hollis Price and Quannas White).
  • OU's No. 3 preseason AP ranking marked its highest ever to start a season.