Nov. 27, 1999
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Oklahoma and UC Irvine, victors in the first round of the second annual Sooner Holiday Classic Friday in Norman, will meet in the tournament's championship game tonight at 8:35. The Sooners fended off San Diego, 68-61, after the Anteaters beat Southwest Texas, 69-46. The consolation game between San Diego and Southwest Texas will start at 6:05 p.m. The championship game will be broadcast on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City). Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) will call the action. Tonight's title contest will also be televised locally by the Sooner Sports Network (NewsNow 53 in Oklahoma City). Ed Murray (play-by-play) and Charlie Spoonhour (analyst) will announce.
After shooting .509 from the field, .484 from three-point land and .849 from the free throw line over three games in Alaska last weekend, Oklahoma posted .403, .278 and .591 respective marks in a 68-61 win against San Diego Friday night. The Sooners took a 36-22 halftime lead but watched the Toreros post a 39-32 scoring edge following the break. Eduardo Najera, despite playing just six minutes in the first half and 22 minutes in the game due to foul trouble, scored a team-high 17 points, 15 after intermission. The senior forward is now averaging 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per outing.
Two of the team's top three-point shooters, J.R. Raymond and Tim Heskett went 2-for-8 and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, respectively, last night. Raymond entered the game with a .550 mark while Heskett had been shooting .476.
Oklahoma continued its rebounding prowess as it outboarded San Diego by a 42-39 count. The Sooners have outrebounded all four of their opponents and have done so by an average of 7.5 caroms per game.
About UC Irvine
The Anteaters moved to 1-1 on the season after handling Southwest Texas last night, 69-46. Sophomore guard Jerry Green recorded game highs in points (20), assists (7) and steals (3) while senior forward Marek Ondera pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Green leads the team in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (5.0 apg) and Ondera leads the squad in rebounding (12.5 rpg).
UC Irvine, which lost its season opener to fellow Sooner Holiday Classic participant San Diego, 75-62, is coached by Pat Douglass. Douglass is in his third season at UC Irvine where he sports a 16-39 (.291) record. He is 392-157 (.714) in his 19th year as a collegiate head coach.
Series with UC Irvine
Tonight's game will be the third between Oklahoma and UC Irvine. The Sooners, who own a 2-0 series lead, last beat the Anteaters on Nov. 30, 1994, in Norman by a 99-77 score. OU's Ryan Minor, then a junior, scored 36 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead the Sooners to victory in Kelvin Sampson's second game as Oklahoma head coach.
The teams' first meeting came in the second round of the 1982 postseason NIT in Norman. The Sooners came away with an 80-77 triumph as Chucky Barnett and Bo Overton led the team with 20 points apiece. OU advanced all the way to the tournament semifinal round where it lost to Bradley, 84-68, in New York City.
Sooners Looking for First Holiday Classic Crown
In the inaugural Sooner Holiday Classic last year, Oklahoma pounded Western Carolina, 102-51, in the first round before falling in the title game to Murray State, 68-64. The Racers, who finished 27-6 last season and won the Ohio Valley Conference title, were led by tournament MVP Isaac Spencer who finished the championship game with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Eduardo Najera paced the Sooners with 43 points and 17 rebounds over two games.
Following tonight's contest, Oklahoma will prepare for a pair of games against SEC opponents Mississippi and Arkansas. The Sooners host Mississippi next Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and then travel to Arkansas three days later. Last year, OU lost to the Rebels, 75-72, in the second round of the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic, and drubbed the 19th-ranked Razorbacks in Norman, 87-57.
Twenty-six of Tim Heskett's 28 field goal attempts have been three-pointers.
Jameel Heywood ranks second on the team in rebounding (5.5 rpg) despite averaging just 15.8 minutes per game. That's an average of 14.0 rebounds per 40 minutes of play.
Kelley Newton has made 7-of-11 (.636) three-point attempts so far this year.
Oklahoma averaged 3.9 blocked shots per game last year. This season, OU is averaging 1.3 blocks per contest.
Tim Heskett owns a 5.0 assist/turnover ratio (10 assists and just two turnovers).
Eduardo Najera, who shot .415 from the field last year, is shooting .500 this season.
OKLAHOMA PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||5||Nolan Johnson (6-4, 215, Jr.)||9.0||5.3||1.5|
|F||21||Eduardo Najera (6-8, 240, Sr.)||19.5||7.8||1.3|
|C||33||Renzi Stone (6-10, 250, Sr.)||5.0||3.5||1.5|
|G||11||J.R. Raymond (6-2, 175, So.)||17.5||4.8||3.3|
|G||14||Tim Heskett (6-1, 185, Jr.)||9.0||2.0||2.5|
UC IRVINE PROBABLE STARTERS
|F||15||Cameron Rigby (6-7, 235, Jr.)||13.0||9.0||2.0|
|F||21||Marek Ondera (6-7, 220, Sr.)||11.5||12.5||0.0|
|C||3||Greg Ethington (6-8, 235, Fr.)||4.5||3.5||2.5|
|G||24||Sean Jackson (6-5, 215, Jr.)||5.0||3.5||1.0|
|G||5||Jerry Green (6-3, 195, So.)||19.0||6.0||5.0|
|G||14||Zamiro Bennem (6-4, 195, So.)||10.0||3.5||1.0|