Sooners Prepare For Syracuse

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 29, 2003

March 29, 2003

Ranked third in this week's AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, East region No. 1 seed Oklahoma (25-6 overall, 12-4 Big 12) will face third-seeded Syracuse (27-5, 13-3 Big East) Saturday at 2:40 p.m. EST in the NCAA Tournament East Regional final at Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y. Syracuse is ranked 13th and 12th in the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Sooners have knocked off 16th-seeded South Carolina State, 71-54, eighth-seeded Cal, 74-65, and 12th-seeded Butler, 65-54. The Orangemen have beaten No. 14 seed Manhattan, 76-65, No. 6 seed Oklahoma State, 68-56, and No. 10 seed Auburn, 79-78.

Sunday's game 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 contest will be televised nationally by CBS with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Len Elmore (analyst) and Solomon Wilcots (reporter) announcing.

With a broken bone in his left wrist, senior guard Ebi Ere had a breakout performance to carry Oklahoma to a 65-54 East Regional semifinals win over No. 12 seed Butler, 65-54, on Friday night. Ere, who averaged 9.3 points on .276 shooting over his previous 20 outings, netted a game-high 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting and added eight rebounds. Freshman forward Kevin Bookout was 8-for-9 from the field en route to a 16-point, eight-rebound effort while All-American Hollis Price fought off lingering effects from a groin injury to supply 12 points and five assists in 37 minutes of play. The game was back and forth for most of the first half before OU went on a 12-3 run to take a 32-23 halftime lead. Oklahoma upped its lead to as many as 12 three times following the break. After Butler trimmed the margin to three with 6:16 to go, the Sooners answered with a 5-0 run to help put the game away. OU posted a 39-21 rebounding advantage and had 25 second-chance points to Butler's seven. Junior center Jabahri Brown came off the bench to produce four points, 11 boards and three assists.


  • Ebi Ere's 25 points were his most since scoring 25 Feb. 1 at Kansas State (span of 20 games).
  • Butler was 14-for-22 from three-point land in its win over Louisville but was just 4-for-13 Friday.
  • Nineteen of the Sooners' 39 rebounds were offensive. Ere had six offensive boards himself.
  • OU trailed for 8:41 of the contest and has been behind for just 21:08 out of 365 minutes over the last nine games.

    F 32 Johnnie Gilbert (6-8, 230, So.)   3.9  4.8
    F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.)     9.6  6.0
    G 4  Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.)     8.8  3.7
    G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.)     18.3  2.8
    G 15 D. Alexander (6-4, 215, Fr.)      6.9  3.5

    The Sooners are 1-1 all-time against Syracuse. OU won at Syracuse, 98-91, during the 1983-84 season behind 33 points from Wayman Tisdale. The Orangemen downed the Sooners 55-49 in Syracuse in 1948-49.


  • Advance OU to the Final Four for the second straight year and fifth time in school history.
  • Give the Sooners an 8-1 NCAA Tournament mark over the past two seasons.
  • Improve OU's mark in NCAA Tournament play as a No. 1 seed to 15-4.
  • Up the Sooners' postseason record to 17-2 over the past three years.

    Oklahoma, which owns a 31-21 NCAA Tournament record, is making its 22nd tourney appearance and is 9-8 under Kelvin Sampson. The Sooners had lost five straight first-round games prior to their Sweet 16 showing in 1999. The 1939, 1947, 1988 and 2002 squads advanced to the national semifinals with the '47 and '88 teams losing in the championship game. Below is a year-by-year look at OU's NCAA Tournament appearances, seeds and records.

    Year    Seed   Record   Final Opponent
    1939     --     1-1     Oregon
    1943     --     1-1     Wyoming
    1947     --     3-1     Holy Cross
    1979   No. 5    1-1     Indiana State
    1983   No. 7    1-1     Indiana
    1984   No. 2    0-1     Dayton
    1985   No. 1    3-1     Memphis State
    1986   No. 4    1-1     DePaul
    1987   No. 6    2-1     Iowa
    1988   No. 1    5-1     Kansas
    1989   No. 1    2-1     Virginia
    1990   No. 1    1-1     North Carolina
    1992   No. 4    0-1     Southwestern La.
    1995   No. 4    0-1     Manhattan
    1996   No. 10   0-1     Temple
    1997   No. 11   0-1     Stanford
    1998   No. 10   0-1     Indiana
    1999   No. 13   2-1     Michigan State
    2000   No. 3    1-1     Purdue
    2001   No. 4    0-1     Indiana State
    2002   No. 2    4-1     Indiana
    2003   No. 1    3-0

    This year's NCAA Tournament appearance marks Kelvin Sampson's 10th straight as a head coach (nine with Oklahoma and one with Washington State). That string ranks fourth among current coaches. Only Arizona's Lute Olson (19 straight), Kansas' Roy Williams (14) and Cincinnati's Bob Huggins (12) have taken teams to more consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Kentucky's Tubby Smith and Maryland's Gary Williams have also been to 10 straight "Big Dances" while Stanford's Mike Montgomery has been to nine.

    Oklahoma has made 22 consecutive postseason appearances (18 NCAA and four NIT), the second-longest streak among Division I programs. Only Indiana owns a longer postseason streak with 26 straight appearances (24 NCAA, two NIT). The last time OU did not compete in the postseason was in 1980-81.

    Oklahoma has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Kelvin Sampson's nine years in Norman. Only seven other schools have made the "Big Dance" each of the past nine seasons (Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Stanford).

    Over the past four seasons (starting with 1999-2000), Oklahoma has posted the second-best winning percentage in NCAA Division I (games through Friday)...

    Duke         121-20 (.858)
    Oklahoma     111-25 (.816)
    Kansas       111-28 (.799)
    Stanford     102-26 (.797)
    Utah State   103-28 (.786)

    Oklahoma has been exceptional from three-point range the last half of the season and has shot .500 or better from long range 10 times in the last 16 games (OU is 131-for-282 over the 16 games for a .465 figure). In its first 17 games, OU shot .348 from beyond the arc. The team's season three-point mark now stands at .402, best in the Big 12. In conference games, OU led the league with a .422 figure. Quannas White has gone 37-for-63 (.587) from long range over the last 16 games while Hollis Price has drained 50-of-97 (.515) attempts over the past 17 outings.

    The Sooners are 26-3 in overall tournament play over the last three years with seven trophies in their pockets. Two years ago, OU won the Sooner Invitational, the Big Island Invitational, the All-College Tournament and the Big 12 Tournament before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Last year OU went 1-1 in the Preseason NIT (lost at Michigan State), claimed the Big 12 Tournament title and went 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma went 2-0 in the Sooner Invitational this season before taking the Big 12 Tournament championship for the third straight year and winning its first three NCAA Tournament games.

    Only two opponents have scored more than 70 points this year as Oklahoma has held five foes to point totals in the 40s, 10 in the 50s and 16 in the 60s. The Sooners held their first 17 opponents to 68 points or less. The last time OU held 17 straight opponents to 68 or fewer points in a single season was the 1950-51 campaign (first 22 games of the year). On the season, OU is holding opponents to 59.9 points per game, fewest in the Big 12. The last time OU held opponents to 59.9 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.

    Senior guard Hollis Price picked up his 108th victory in an OU uniform Thursday against South Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament first round to become the winningest player in school history. Since he became a Sooner, Oklahoma owns a 111-25 (.816) record. Price missed last year's Texas Southern game, an Oklahoma win, with an eye injury so OU is 110-25 (.815) in games in which he's played. Darryl "Choo" Kennedy (1984-87) held the record for most victories by a Sooner with 107.

    One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 18.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game this year. He has passed 15 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, Don Sidle, Eduardo Najera and Alvan Adams) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands seventh on the career list with 1,813 points and will likely end up in that spot (Ryan Minor is sixth with 1,946). The New Orleans native also ranks first in career free throw percentage (.861), second in three-point field goals (239), second in three-point field goal attempts (604), second in minutes played (4,260), third in games played (135), fourth in steals (220), sixth in assists (460), eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.396) and 10th in steals per game (1.6).

    Price was named the Associated Press Big 12 Player of the Year and was selected to the league's all-defense team. He was also named a USBWA first-team All-American. Price won his second consecutive Big 12 Tournament MVP Award after averaging 19.7 points, 3.7 boards, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting .500 from the field, .389 from beyond the arc and 1.000 from the foul line during the event.

    Senior Hollis Price attempted 99 free throws last year (2.8 per game). This year, however, Price has already attempted 140 foul shots (4.2 per game). The guard, who is shooting .929 from the line this year, saw his school-record streak of 36 makes without a miss come to a halt Feb. 23 versus Kansas when he went 0-for-2. He bounced back with a 6-for-6 performance at Missouri the next game and has now made 89 of his last 94 tries (.947). In addition to his streak of 36 straight makes, Price also made 27 in a row earlier in the year. Price ranks first on the OU career free throw percentage chart at .861 (Bo Overton shot .852 from 1980 to 1983). John Ontjes holds the OU single-season record (.867 in 1993-94).


  • The last two teams to eliminate Butler from the NCAA Tournament advanced to the national title game (Florida in 2000 and Arizona in 2001).
  • The Sooners are 4-2 in Elite Eight contests in their history.
  • Oklahoma has won 16 of its last 18 games over the last three postseasons (9-0 in Big 12 Tournament and 7-2 in NCAA Tournament).
  • OU is 26-2 this year when leading at the half and 21-2 when outrebounding its opponent.
  • Kevin Bookout is 17-for-20 from the field over the last two NCAA Tournament games (.850).
  • Sooner backcourt members have scored 1,636 of the team's 2,345 points this year. That means 70 percent of OU's scoring has come from its guards.
  • Only five of Oklahoma's 33 opponents this season have recorded more assists than turnovers.
  • Quannas White (.519) and Price (.509) ranked first and second in the Big 12 (league games) in three-point percentage. They also rank first and second for the season with .472 and .447 respective marks.
  • White is shooting .587 (37-for-63) from three-point range over the last 16 games but just .605 (23-for-38) from the free throw line during the period.
  • Price has made 89 of his last 94 free throw attempts (.947).
  • Price has shot at least .500 from three-point range in nine of the last 12 games.
  • Oklahoma has been ranked in the AP's top 10 for 30 straight weeks (currently ranked No. 3).
  • In eight-plus years under Kelvin Sampson, the Sooners sport a 109-10 record (.916) when scoring at least 80 points. They have won 48 of their last 50 games (.960) under the circumstance.
  • Oklahoma is 16-8 in overtime games under Sampson and has won 10 of its last 12. OU is 3-0 in overtime affairs this season (beat Texas Tech twice and Kansas State).
  • The Sooners have won at least 26 games each of the past four years.
  • Oklahoma has not lost back-to-back games in a season in more than two years (Jan. 13 and 16, 2001, to Kansas and Texas Tech). It is the longest current stretch in the Big 12.


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