Sooners Try To Rebound At Nebraska

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 13, 2000

Feb. 13, 2000

PDF Formatted Notes

Game Information
Ranked 16th in the AP poll and 17th in the ESPN/USA Today version, Oklahoma (19-4 overall, 7-3 Big 12) travels to face Nebraska (10-13, 3-7) Monday at 8:05 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. The game will air on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Bob Barry, Sr., (play-by-play) and Mark Mathew (analyst) calling the action. The contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) will announce.

Oklahoma Update
Oklahoma saw its five-game winning streak snapped Saturday afternoon when it fell to 14th-ranked Oklahoma State, 74-71, in front of a Lloyd Noble Center record crowd of 13,280. The Sooners came back from a 20-point first-half deficit and eventually cut the margin to one with seven seconds remaining in the game but couldn't get over the hump. OU made just five free throws on 13 attempts for a season-low .385 mark.

All-America candidate Eduardo Najera, who was the subject of constant double-teaming against the Cowboys, didn't score his first points until the 6:03 mark of the first half but still finished with a game-high tying 21 points. The senior forward has five double-doubles in the last seven games and nine in the last 14. He ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring (19.4 ppg), second in rebounding (9.5 rpg) and 10th in steals (1.7 spg). Over OU's last seven games, Najera is averaging 19.4 points and 12.7 rebounds. He is one of only two Sooners in school history (Ryan Minor is the other) to rank in the top 10 in career points (10th), rebounds (seventh), steals (seventh) and blocked shots (fifth).

Junior college transfer Nolan Johnson has made hefty contributions of late, as evidenced by his 11.8 scoring and 7.0 rebounding averages over the last four contests. The guard, who has led the team in rebounding each of the last two games, is shooting .553 from the field on the year and boasts a .625 mark in Big 12 games. He has also made his last 11 free throw attempts.

About Nebraska
An 87-65 loser at 17th-ranked Iowa State Saturday night, Nebraska enters Monday's affair looking to halt a three-game losing skid which has seen it fall at home to Missouri (84-78) and on the road to Colorado (70-58) and the Cyclones. The second-leading rebounding team in the Big 12 (40.9 rpg), the Huskers are 9-4 at home this season, 3-2 in conference games.

Senior forward Larry Florence (12.7 ppg) leads four Huskers who average double figures in scoring. Florence is followed by junior forward Steffon Bradford (12.4 ppg), junior center Kimani Ffriend (12.1 ppg) and junior guard Danny Walker (10.4 ppg). Bradford, who is shooting .525 from the field, leads the team in rebounding (8.6 rpg) while Ffriend, who sports a .560 field goal mark, ranks second in rebounding (8.3 rpg).

Nebraska has been without the services of 1999 third-team All-Big 12 selection Cookie Belcher virtually all season. The guard, who played in four of the team's first eight games, had surgery on his right wrist last May but reinjured the wrist in practice on Dec. 14. He will likely miss the rest of the year.

In his 14th year as Husker head coach, Danny Nee has compiled a 253-184 (.579) record. Nee, in his 19th year as a collegiate head coach, owns a 360-251 (.589) career record.

Series with Nebraska
Oklahoma leads the overall series with Nebraska, 95-78, but is 34-44 in Lincoln. OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson owns a 4-3 record against the Huskers and is 1-2 at the Devaney Center. The Sooners have won 10 of the last 15 games overall versus Nebraska and nine of the last 15 in Lincoln. Last year, the Huskers handed OU a lopsided 96-81 loss in Norman, tying as the second-worst Sooner defeat at Lloyd Noble Center. Nebraska, which led by as many as 25 in the second half, racked up the second-highest point total by an OU opponent since Sampson took over as head coach. The Huskers shot .660 from the field and were led by Larry Florence's 21 points and Venson Hamilton's 19. Sooner Eric Martin buried 8-of-10 three-point attempts and scored a career-high 27 points while Eduardo Najera scored 20 and grabbed nine boards.

Oklahoma/Nebraska Statistical Comparison

19-4Overall Record10-13
76.7Points Average70.0
62.7Opponent Points Average73.3
36.8Rebounds Average40.9
32.3Opponent Rebounding Average36.6
.466Field Goal Percentage.434
.416Opponent Field Goal Percentage.419
.4083-Pt. Percentage.328
.333Opponent 3-Pt. Percentage.343
.704Free Throw Percentage.625
18.5Personal Fouls Average18.1
15.5Assists Average13.3
12.5Turnovers Average19.1
2.6Blocked Shots Average5.1
7.3Steals Average7.9

Recapping the Oklahoma State Contest
The Sooners dug themselves a hole that was a little too deep to climb out of Saturday in a 74-71 loss to Oklahoma State in Norman. The Cowboys, who never trailed in the game, raced to a 41-21 first-half lead thanks to torrid three-point shooting and took a 41-27 lead to intermission. Oklahoma scored the first four points of the second half to trim the deficit to 10 and chipped away at the OSU margin the rest of the final 20 minutes. Kelley Newton's three-pointer with seven seconds remaining drew the Sooners to within one but Brian Montonati made both of his free throws to cap the scoring after being fouled on OSU's in-bounds play. Eduardo Najera, held scoreless over the game's first 14 minutes, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Nolan Johnson scored 15 points, one shy of his career high, and grabbed a team-high eight boards. Oklahoma State guard Joe Adkins, who also scored 21 points, canned four three-pointers and hit a key two-point bucket with 32 seconds left that put the Cowboys up by five. OSU center Fredrik Jonzen was 10-for-13 at the foul line and finished with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. For the game, the Cowboys made 10-of-22 (.455) three-pointers and 20-of-28 (.714) free throws. Oklahoma, which entered the game sporting a Big 12-best .714 free throw percentage, made just 5-of-13 (season-low .385) foul shots.

Coming Up
Oklahoma is on the road again Sunday when it travels to Kansas for a 12:30 p.m. game on ABC. Then the Sooners return to Norman for consecutive home games against Texas Tech Feb. 23 (ESPN Regional) and Missouri Feb. 26 (ESPN). Both home contests will start at 8:05 p.m.

OU's Big 12 History
The Sooners now boast a 38-20 (.655) Big 12 record, second only to Kansas' 48-10 (.828) mark. OU finished 9-7 (fifth place) in 1996-97 and 11-5 (tied for second) in each of the last two years. Kelvin Sampson's Big 12 squads have posted a 22-8 league record at home and a 16-12 mark on the road.

Eduardo Najera: The Big 12's Best?
Is Eduardo Najera the best player in the Big 12 Conference? He's certainly making a case for himself, especially lately...

Ranks second in Big 12 games in scoring (19.4 ppg), leads the league in rebounding (10.7 rpg) and ranks fourth in steals (2.0 spg).

Boasts a league-best six double-doubles in conference action.

Has 11 double-doubles this year and has recorded five in the last seven games.

Ranks second in the Big 12 (all games) in scoring (19.4 ppg), second in rebounding (9.5 rpg) and 10th in steals (1.7 spg). He is the only player to rank in the top 10 in all three categories.

Averaging 38.8 minutes over the last eight games.

Has attempted an average of 6.7 free throws per game, fourth most in the Big 12.

Is the only Sooner to score in double figures in all 23 games this year.

Has led the team in both scoring and rebounding nine times on the season.

Has recorded three or more assists nine times this season and three or more steals on six occasions.

Has started in 55 consecutive games.

Ranks 10th in career scoring at OU (1,467 points), seventh in rebounding (814), seventh in steals (173) and fifth in blocked shots (82). Only he and Ryan Minor rank in the school's all-time top 10 in the four categories.

Was named Top of the World Classic and All-College Tournament MVP this year and was named to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.

Earned Big 12 Player-of-the-Week acclaim Dec. 14 and Feb. 7.

Was featured in the Feb. 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine and the Jan. 24 issue of Sports Illustrated.

"Najera has solidified his position as a first-round pick. Scouts love his toughness and ability to get to the basket. He will be a pick and a favorite on any roster."

Najera Fourth In CBS' Wooden Award Watch
Eduardo Najera currently rates as the fourth-leading candidate to win the 2000 John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation's most outstanding player, according to CBS SportsLine ( He is the Big 12's highest rated player on the list.

1. Kenyon MartinCincinnati
2. Troy MurphyNotre Dame
3. Chris CarrawellDuke
4. Eduardo NajeraOklahoma
5. Chris MihmTexas
6. Mateen CleavesMichigan State
7. Khalid El-AminConnecticut
8. Courtney AlexanderFresno State
9. Desmond MasonOklahoma State
10. Quentin RichardsonDePaul

Johnson's Production Increases with Minutes
Guard Nolan Johnson, a junior college transfer who didn't play basketball last season because he was wrapping up academic requirements, has appeared as comfortable on the court over the last several games as he has all year. He is averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in OU's last four contests and has upped his season averages to 8.1 and 4.7, respectively. During the four-game span, Johnson is also averaging 33.5 minutes per outing. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he is shooting .820 from the free throw line this season and .553 from the field (.625 in Big 12 action).

Raymond Vies For Newcomer of the Year
Sophomore point guard J.R. Raymond, who sat out his freshman season as a partial qualifier, ranks ninth in the Big 12 in scoring (15.7 ppg). He also averages 3.2 three-pointers per game (ranks second), leads the team in assists (4.0 apg) and is second in steals (1.4 spg). Raymond has made a league-high 73 three-pointers on 163 attempts (.448) and has scored in double digits in all but three games (scored nine each time).

In his collegiate debut versus Montana State Nov. 19 in Fairbanks, Alaska, Raymond made 9-of-16 field goal attempts, including 5-of-9 three-point tries, and finished with a game-high 29 points. He also contributed six rebounds and five assists in the 91-76 victory and went on to earn Top of the World Classic All-Tournament Team honors. Raymond's 29-point outburst is believed to be the second-highest scoring total by a Sooner in his collegiate debut. In 1972, center Alvan Adams scored 38 points and collected a school-record 28 rebounds against Indiana State in his first-ever game.

Raymond has also been named this year's Sooner Holiday Classic MVP and to the All-College Tournament all-tourney squad.

Target Practice
Junior Tim Heskett, OU's career leader in three-point percentage (.422), is shooting .421 from beyond the arc this season. Dave Sieger (.405) is the only other Sooner to ever post a career three-point mark above .400. Heskett, who set the single-season school record with a .473 three-point mark last year, is tied for fourth on the OU career charts in three-point makes (167) and ranks fifth in attempts (396). The Lexington, S.C., native needs just four treys to move into second place on the career list. Terry Evans owns the school record with 259 career conversions.

This Price is Right
Freshman guard Hollis Price, who has started all 10 league games for OU, is developing into a steady player on both ends of the floor. Price has scored a career-high-tying 15 points twice in Big 12 play (versus Baylor and at Colorado). The New Orleans, La., product owns a healthy 2.1 assist/turnover ratio and has recorded three or more assists 10 times. Lightning quick, Price also has 11 multiple-steals games to his credit.

Turnovers Few and Far Between
OU averages a Big 12-low 12.5 turnovers per outing (Missouri ranks second with 13.7). The Sooners also own the second best assist/turnover ratio in the conference (1.2).

Sooner Guards Shooting .438 From Beyond Arc
Historically an excellent three-point shooting team under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma has done nothing to jeopardize that label so far this season. Through 23 games, the Sooners have made 194-of-476 trey attempts for a Big 12-leading .408 mark. Sooner guards are shooting a stout .438 on the year. Here's a look at the statistics of OU's four three-point shooting guards:

J.R. Raymond73163.4483.2
Tim Heskett59140.4212.6
Kelley Newton3573.4791.7
Hollis Price1437.3780.6

Heskett Dependable with the Ball
Tim Heskett, who averages 23.1 minutes per game, has committed just 13 turnovers this season. That's an average of one turnover every 41 minutes. The junior guard leads the Big 12 with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio and also ranks sixth in the league with 2.6 three-point makes per contest. Heskett averages 8.7 points per game to rank third on the team.

OU Miscellany

Despite posting a season-low .385 (5-for-13) free throw mark versus Oklahoma State Saturday, the Sooners still lead the Big 12 in the category at .704.

Nolan Johnson, who is shooting .553 on the season, sports a .625 mark (35-for-56) in conference action. Renzi Stone is shooting .680 (17-for-25) in league play.

Eduardo Najera recorded a 0.7 assist/turnover ratio in non-conference play but sports a 1.4 ratio in Big 12 games.

Three players (Eduardo Najera, J.R. Raymond and Renzi Stone) have each started all 23 games.

The Sooners are 16-0 when leading at halftime.

J.R. Raymond (73) and Tim Heskett (59) have combined to make a Big 12-leading 132 three-pointers on the year. The Kansas State duo of Galen Morrison (64) and Cortez Groves (47) ranks second in the Big 12 with 111 conversions.

Eduardo Najera leads the Sooners in scoring, rebounding and steals, and ranks second in blocked shots and third in assists.

Renzi Stone, who has shot better than .500 from the field each of the past two seasons, sports a .569 mark this year. The senior has missed just one game during his career.

In five-plus years under Coach Sampson, the Sooners are 70-9 (.886)when scoring 80 or more points and are 56-2 (.966) when scoring at least 80 points at home.

Oklahoma has been outrebounded just five times in its 23 games.

The Sooners have committed more turnovers than their opponents in just three games (vs. George Washington, at Colorado and at Baylor). Oklahoma is averaging a Big 12-low 12.5 turnovers per outing.

Fifty-nine of Tim Heskett's 63 field goal conversions (94 percent) have been three-pointers while 35 of Kelley Newton's 47 field goal makes (74 percent) have been treys. Newton's first 17 baskets this year were three-pointers.

The Sooners are averaging 8.4 three-point makes per game. Last season, OU set a school record with its 8.6 treys per outing.

OU Boasts Nation's Fourth-Longest Postseason Streak
Oklahoma has made 18 consecutive postseason appearances (14 NCAA and four NIT), the fourth-longest streak among Division I programs. Only North Carolina, Georgetown and Indiana own longer postseason streaks. The last time Oklahoma did not compete in the postseason was in 1980-81. The four longest current postseason streaks are as follows:

TeamStreakNCAANIT Started
North Carolina332941966-67

Model of Consistency
Oklahoma has registered a winning record in 22 of its last 23 seasons. No other Big 12 team can boast as many winning campaigns since the 1975-76 season as the Sooners. Entering the year, OU had posted a 504-232 (.685) record over the span.

Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
Now in his 17th year as a collegiate head coach, Kelvin Sampson is in his sixth year at the Oklahoma helm. He has averaged 20.6 wins per season at OU and is one of two Big 12 coaches Kansas' Roy Williams is the other to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament each of the last five seasons.

Sampson began his head coaching career in 1980 at Montana Tech when he was hired as the program's interim head coach. He recorded a 73-45 mark in four seasons and was inducted into the school's sports hall of fame two years ago.

In 1988, Sampson was named head coach at Washington State and compiled an even 103-103 record over seven years, including two 20-win campaigns.

Hired by Oklahoma on April 25, 1994, he has guided the Sooners to a 122-59 (.674) record and a 73-15 (.830) home mark. In 1997-98, OU finished tied for second place in the Big 12 Conference and played in the league's postseason tournament championship game. Last year, he directed OU to another second-place league finish and an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.

Sampson was named the 1995 national coach of the year by the Associated Press, the USBWA and Basketball Times.

Sampson year by Year

YearSchoolRecord (Pct.)
1981-82Montana Tech7-20 (.259)
1982-83Montana Tech22-9 (.710)
1983-84Montana Tech22-7 (.759)
1984-85Montana Tech22-9 (.710)
1987-88Washington State13-16 (.448)
1988-89Washington State10-19 (.345)
1989-90Washington State7-22 (.241)
1990-91Washington State16-12 (.571)
1991-92Washington State22-11 (.667)
1992-93Washington State15-12 (.556)
1993-94Washington State20-11 (.645)
1994-95Oklahoma23-9 (.719)
1995-96Oklahoma17-13 (.567)
1996-97Oklahoma19-11 (.633)
1997-98Oklahoma22-11 (.667)
1998-99Oklahoma22-11 (.667)
1999-00Oklahoma19-4 (.826)
Totals298-207 (.590)

Coach Sampson on Television
This season, Oklahoma basketball fans can catch Head Coach Kelvin Sampson on television twice a week with "Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson" and "Sooner Basketball 2000." The shows will give viewers an insider's look at the OU program and feature highlights, interviews and Coach Sampson's insights.

Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson
Hosted by veteran Oklahoma City television sports anchor Bill Teegins, "Inside Sooner Basketball with Kelvin Sampson" airs Fridays at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest. The half-hour show can be seen in Oklahoma City on KWTV Channel 9 Saturdays at 11 a.m. and in Tulsa on TCI Cablevision Channel 9 Fridays at 6 p.m.

Sooner Basketball 2000
"Sooner Basketball 2000" is hosted by Steve Neumann, director of broadcasting at OU. The one-hour show airs in Oklahoma City Sundays at 7 p.m. on NewsNow 53 and later that night at 1:45 a.m. on KWTV Channel 9.

1999-00 Big 12 Standings
(Through Sunday, Feb. 13)

Big 12Overall
Okla. State91.900202.909
Iowa State91.900213.875
Texas A&M37.300714.333
Texas Tech19.1001011.476
Kan. State110.091814.364

Player Profiles

3MICHAEL CANO (6-1, 170, SO., GUARD)

A walk-on who has played in 10 games this season.

Scored his first career points with a last-minute basket against Arkansas-Little Rock Dec. 11.


Has started in 21 of 23 games and is averaging 8.1 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting .553 from the field.

Shooting .625 in Big 12 games (35-for-56).

Earned second-team junior college All-America honors as a sophomore two years ago.

Played at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College but graduated from Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

Named Brooklyn (N.Y.) Player of the Year as a high school senior.

10HOLLIS PRICE (6-1, 165, FR., GUARD)

Averaging 5.4 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

A starter in all 10 Big 12 contests.

Regarded as one of the country's 50 best high school seniors last year at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.

Earned first-team All-State and New Orleans Metro Player-of-the-Year honors as a senior when he averaged 25.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.

Hit game-winning shot in 1998 17-and-under AAU national championship game and was named tournament MVP.

11J.R. RAYMOND (6-2, 175, SO., GUARD)

Poured in 29 points in first collegiate game Nov. 19.

Ranks first on team in minutes (35.1 mpg) and assists (4.0 apg), and second in scoring (15.7 ppg).

Ranks second in Big 12 with 3.2 three-pointers per game and is shooting .448 from beyond the arc.

Earned Big 12 Rookie-of-the-Week honor Dec. 14.

Named Sooner Holiday Classic MVP and to Top of the World Classic and All-College all-tourney teams.

Practiced with the team under "partial qualifier" label last year, but was not allowed to play in games.

14TIM HESKETT (6-1, 185, JR., GUARD)

Shooting .421 from three-point range and has made at least two treys in 18 of 23 games.

Averaging 2.6 three-point makes per game (ranks sixth in Big 12) and just 0.6 turnovers per outing.

Set single-season OU record with his .473 three-point mark last year and is the career leader in three-point percentage (.422).

Ranked second in the Big 12 in three-point percentage and in three-pointers per game (2.5) last year.

20KELLEY NEWTON (6-2, 190, JR., GUARD)

Ranks second in Big 12 in three-point percentage (.480).

Has scored at least 18 points four times this year.

Made 5-of-6 three-pointers and finished with a career-high 19 points versus Texas A&M in league opener.

Thirty-five of his 47 baskets have been three-pointers.

Tore ACL and MCL in his left knee during Oct. 31, 1998, scrimmage and missed the entire season (had surgery Nov. 20).


Averaging 19.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals.

Ranks second in Big 12 (league games) in scoring and leads in rebounding with 19.6 and 10.7 respective averages.

Named Big 12 Player of the Week twice this season.

A preseason Playboy All-American who was named Top of the World Classic and All-College Tournament MVP and to the Sooner Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.

Has 11 double-doubles and nine in the last 14 games.

Ranks 10th on OU's all-time scoring list with 1,467 points and seventh on the career rebounding chart with 814 boards.

Averaged 18.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in first two NCAA Tournament rounds to lead OU to Sweet 16 last year.

22OLEG REZTSOV (7-2, 230, SR., CENTER)

Played a career-high 10 minutes versus Mount St. Mary's.

Has scored three points this season in 10 games.

Is the tallest player in school history.

Maintains his own web site (

30JARRETT HART (6-3, 210, FR., GUARD)

A first-team All-State selection at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., last year.

Averaged 17.4 points, 8.5 boards and 7.3 assists as a senior.

Helped Arkansas Hawks AAU team to national last summer.

32VICTOR AVILA (6-10, 255, SR., CENTER)

Scored 13 points in 83-59 win over No. 16 Texas Jan. 31.

Averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Has recorded two double-doubles this season.

Tied career highs with 17 points and 12 rebounds versusGeorgia Southern Dec. 18 and had career-high four assists.

A second-team junior college All-American who averaged 23.7 points, 15.3 boards and 2.8 blocks per contest in 1997-98.


Has started all 23 games and is averaging 4.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per outing.

Shooting .569 overall and .680 in Big 12 play.

A starter in 18 games a year ago who averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting a team-high .531 from the field.

Grabbed at least four rebounds 17 times last year.

One of seven OU students nominated this past September for a Rhodes Scholarship.

Has missed just one game during his Sooner career.


Shooting team-high .577 from field and averaging 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per contest.

Grabbed a career-high 12 boards vs. Texas A&M in 17 minutes.

Transferred from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.

A second-team All-Jayhawk Conference selection as a freshman and sophomore (averaged 17.0 points both seasons).

Named the 1995 Bronx (N.Y.) Player of the Year as a junior at Evander Childs High School.

Voted 1996 New England Player of the Year at Salisbury(Conn.) Prep School.



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