Jan. 12, 2003
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Ranked ninth in the current AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Oklahoma (10-2 overall, 1-0 Big 12) will travel to face rival Oklahoma State (12-1, 1-0) on Monday at 8 p.m. CST inside Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. The first of two regular season "Bedlam" games will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City, KFAQ 1170 AM in Tulsa) with Bob Barry, Sr. (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The matcup will be televised nationally on ESPN with Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) announcing.
AVERAGES OKLAHOMA STATE PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 23 Ivan McFarlin (6-7, 221, Jr.) 12.6 7.5 F 33 Jason Miller (6-9, 245, Jr.) 3.5 3.6 G 5 Victor Williams (5-10, 192, Sr.) 12.5 1.7 G 24 Tony Allen (6-4, 205, Jr.) 17.0 5.2 G 34 Melvin Sanders (6-5,198, Sr.) 13.2 4.1
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS PPG RPG F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 8.1 5.5 C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) 7.3 6.0 G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) 18.4 5.8 G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 6.0 3.2 G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 18.5 2.5
STATISTICAL COMPARISON Category Oklahoma Okla. St. Overall Record 10-2 12-1 Points Per Game 75.3 75.9 Opponent Points Per Game 59.4 60.2 Rebounds Per Game 39.0 37.1 Opponent Rebounds Per Game 31.4 32.5 Field Goal Pct. .449 .488 Opponent Field Goal Pct. .407 .372 3-Point Pct. .353 .383 Opponent 3-Point Pct. .362 .354 Free Throw Pct. .747 .686 Personal Fouls Per Game 18.4 21.0 Assists Per Game 14.8 14.8 Turnovers Per Game 12.3 15.7 Blocked Shots Per Game 3.4 5.9 Steals Per Game 9.5 10.4
Winners of four in a row and 10 of their last 11, the Sooners play their first Big 12 road game of the season on Monday. After picking up a 73-63 win over No. 3 Connecticut on Tuesday, Oklahoma raced to a 26-point lead over Colorado on Saturday and cruised to a 69-54 victory. It was the 20th straight home win over Colorado and the 31st straight home triumph overall for OU. Seniors Ebi Ere (20) and Hollis Price (19) combined for 39 of the team's points (57 percent), eight of its 12 assists and five of its seven steals. Junior Jabahri Brown registered eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks while freshman Kevin Bookout added six points and seven boards. Playing just 14 minutes due to a sprained knee, senior point guard Quannas White had two points, three rebounds and a pair of assists. The Sooners held Colorado to .311 field goal shooting, the lowest figure by an OU opponent this year, and hauled in a season-high 52 rebounds. Oklahoma also dropped its opponents' points-per-game average to 59.4, lowest in the Big 12.
Price, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, and Ere have been sensational on offense and average 18.5 and 18.4 points per game, respectively. In the last three games against Michigan State, Connecticut and Colorado, Price has made 28-of-29 free throw attempts and is averaging 23.7 points. He scored a career-high 33 against UConn. On the season, Price is also averaging 2.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting .932 from the foul line. Ere, who has led the team in scoring in eight of 12 games, also averages 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per outing. He was last week's Big 12 Player of the Week. White averages 6.0 points, a team-high 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game, and sports a superb 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio to lead the Big 12 (just 0.9 turnovers per game).
Forward Bookout averages 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds while center Brown averages 7.3 points and a team-high 6.0 boards. Brown has blocked 16 shots over the last six games (2.7 average).
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE
A winner of 10 straight and a 93-76 victor on Saturday at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State was ranked 26th in last week's AP poll and 27th in the coaches poll. The Cowboys haven't lost since Nov. 29, a 66-58 defeat at the hands of College of Charleston in the second round of the Great Alaska Shootout. Among OSU's wins are triumphs over Michigan State (64-61), Fresno State (71-61) and Arkansas (71-45). One of the better defenses in the Big 12, Oklahoma State ranks second in the league in scoring defense (60.2 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.372) and blocked shots (5.9 bpg), and third in steals (10.4 spg).
Guard Tony Allen, a junior college transfer, leads the team with his 17.0 points per game and also averages 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals. Allen is shooting .538 from the field and a remarkable .559 from three-point range (19-for-34). Senior guard Melvin Sanders averages 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. OSU's leading rebounder is junior forward Ivan McFarlin with 7.5 boards per contest. The left-hander is also scoring 12.6 points per game and is shooting a team-high .634 from the field. Senior point guard Victor Williams adds 12.5 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
In his 13th season at Oklahoma State, head coach Eddie Sutton is 284-115 (.712). He is in his 33rd year as a Division I head coach and owns a 714-279 (.719) record. He ranks 14th in all-time Division I career wins.
OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma leads the overall series with Oklahoma State, 116-84, but trails 54-39 in Stillwater. Kelvin Sampson is 8-10 against the Cowboys as OU's head coach and is 2-6 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Sooners' two wins in Stillwater under Sampson came in 1999 (54-43) and 2000 (59-56). The teams split last year with OU winning 58-53 in Norman on Jan. 30 and OSU posting a 79-72 overtime victory in Stillwater on Feb. 13. Hollis Price had a game-high 17 in the first meeting and Aaron McGhee scored a game-high 27 points and had 11 boards in the second matchup. Ivan McFarlin paced OSU with 22 points in the Cowboys' win.
BIG 12 RULE
With its victory against Colorado on Saturday, Oklahoma has now won 10 straight games against Big 12 teams and 14 of its last 15. OU won its final five regular season league games last year, swept three at the Big 12 Tournament and knocked off Missouri in the NCAA Tournament West Regional Final last March. The last conference team to beat the Sooners was Oklahoma State, 79-72 (OT), Feb. 13, 2002, in Stillwater.
Senior Hollis Price attempted 99 free throws last year (2.8 per game). This year, however, Price has already attempted 73 foul shots (6.1 per game). He has made 27 free throws in a row over the last three games (28-of-29 total during the stretch). Ryan Minor holds the school record with 30 consecutive makes during the 1995-96 season. Price now leads the Big 12 with his .932 season free throw mark and ranks second on the OU career free throw percentage chart with an .848 figure (Bo Overton shot .852 from 1980 to 1983).
FIRE AND ICE
Against Connecticut last Tuesday, OU made seven field goals in the first 6:26 of the second half but just one afterwards. On Saturday versus Colorado, the Sooners again started the second half with a flurry and converted nine field goal tries in the first 8:55. OU made just two field goals the rest of the way, however.
A TOP-10 HIT
When the new AP poll is released Monday, the Sooners will surely be ranked in the top 10 (they were ninth last week). It will make it 21 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.
Senior guards Hollis Price (18.5) and Ebi Ere (18.4) are averaging a combined 36.9 points per game, a figure that ranks second 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.
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 57 percent of the team's points, 62 percent of its assists and 48 percent of its steals. The three guards have also made 73 percent of OU's three-pointers on the year and 67 percent of its free throws.
HEAVY IN THE BACK(COURT)
Sooner backcourt members have scored 622 of the team's 903 points this year. That means 69 percent of OU's scoring has come from its guards. The guards have also registered 148 of the team's 178 assists (83 percent).
In the last eight games, Oklahoma has limited Hartford, Coppin State, Georgia State, Mississippi State, UNC Asheville, Michigan State, Connecticut and Colorado to a collective .372 field goal mark (159-for-427), dropping the team's field goal percentage defense figure from .480 prior to the Hartford game to .407 now. Also, OU averaged just 1.0 blocked shot per game in its first four contests but is averaging 4.6 over its last eight 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 10 opponents by an average of 9.9 caroms per contest. Oklahoma registered a season-high 52 boards against Colorado on Saturday. Against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 30, OU posted a 50-25 rebounding advantage (including a 27-1 margin in offensive rebounds). On the season, Oklahoma is outrebounding its opponents by a 7.6 margin per game.
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.
JOHNNIE COME LATELY
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 has averaged 4.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in seven games since his return and is 15-for-27 (.556) from the field during the span. Gilbert is now averaging 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds over his nine games. His .486 season field goal percentage is better than his .389 free throw mark.
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 eight of 12 games and ranks sixth in the Big 12 with his 18.4 points per outing. He also averages 5.8 rebounds to rank second on the team. Last year he shot .427 from the field but so far this year he sports a .482 figure. Ere also averages 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals 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 has scored in double figures in all but the Mississippi State game on Dec. 28 (he had nine points).
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price is averaging 18.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game this season. He has already passed 10 players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry, Al Beal, Mookie Blaylock, David Johnson, Terry Evans and Harvey Grant) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. Price now stands 12th on the career list with 1,431 points and needs 31 points to tie Chucky Barnett for 11th. 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 second in career free throw percentage (.848), third in three-point field goals (175), third in three-point field goal attempts (474), fifth in minutes played (3,521), fifth in steals (189), seventh in assists (405) 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 this season. Forward Kevin Bookout has started all 12 games and is averaging 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting .543 from the field in 27.8 minutes per contest. 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 5.5 points and 3.8 boards in 18.4 minutes per outing and registered a career-high 14 points 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 3.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per outing. Collectively, the quartet has scored 198 points (16.5 per game) and grabbed 136 boards (11.3 per game).
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 12 games, the Sooners own a .747 free throw mark, tops in the Big 12.
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 9-0 this season, is 350-59 (.856) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 113-16 (.876) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 31 straight. The 31-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 second longest current streak (BYU has won 42 straight).
SAMPSON SIGNS STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS
Oklahoma signed four high-schoolers to national letters of intent Nov. 13. The class, which includes point guard Andrew Lavender, swingman Brandon Foust, combo guard Lawrence McKenzie and post Longar Longar, has been rated as one of the nation's 10 best.
Lavender is a 5-7, 155-pounder from Brookhaven (Ohio) High School who averaged 11.0 points and 10.8 assists per game last year in leading his team to a state title. He is generally regarded as one of the country's top two or three point guards and is a top-20 national recruit. Lavender's teammate, Brandon Foust, is a 6-6, 200-pounder who averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a junior. Foust is considered one of the nation's top 60 players. The duo led Brookhaven to a 27-1 record last year.
McKenzie, 6-1 and 165, has won three state titles at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, Minn. The former teammate of current Sooner Johnnie Gilbert averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last year. He is regarded as a top-75 national recruit and appears on some analysts' top-50 lists.
Longar, a 6-10, 210-pounder originally from Sudan, averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks last year at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn. He is considered a top-50 recruit by most analysts.
"I've never been into recruiting rankings," said OU head coach Kelvin Sampson. "I look at how the players a team recruits fill the needs of that team. We will lose three starting guards after this season in Quannas White, Hollis Price and Ebi Ere. Lavender, Foust and McKenzie will not only form a great backcourt, but they're all freshmen. And Longar will be a freshman in the frontcourt. He's an investment who possesses two things you can't teach -- size and athleticism. These kids all come from great high school programs and learn from great coaches."
OU SECURES BEST PRESEASON AP RANKING
OU's No. 3 preseason AP ranking marked its highest ever to start a season. The Sooners' previous best AP ranking heading into a season was No. 5, in both 1984-85 and 1988-89. Oklahoma finished both of those seasons ranked No. 4 in the AP poll under head coach Billy Tubbs.
OU RANKED NO. 1 BY ESPN.COM
ESPN.com ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason power poll Nov. 13. Oklahoma is in front of No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Florida. Said ESPN.com's Jay Bilas, "The Sooners are the toughest and hardest nosed team in the nation. Kelvin Sampson has a durable and resilient group that is deep and athletic, and has embraced Sampson's style of playing smashmouth basketball on both ends of the floor. Oklahoma sends four athletes to the offensive glass, rebounds the ball with ferocity, gets into your chest and defends with an aggressive and physical demeanor, and has the mental make-up to win the national championship."
OU BOASTS NATION'S SECOND-LONGEST POSTSEASON STREAK
OU has participated in either the NCAA Tournament or National Invitation Tournament in each of the last 21 seasons. During that stretch the Sooners have made the NCAA field 17 times and have played in the NIT on four occasions. The 21-year streak is the second longest in the nation. OU trails only Indiana, which has made 25 straight postseason appearances.
EIGHT STRAIGHT...AND COUNTING
Oklahoma has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Kelvin Sampson's eight years in Norman. Only eight other schools have made the "Big Dance" each of the past eight seasons (Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Stanford and UCLA).
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Oklahoma has registered a winning record in 25 of its last 26 seasons. No other Big 12 team can boast as many winning campaigns since the 1975-76 season as the Sooners. OU has posted a 588-251 (.701) record over the past 26 years.
THE LAST THREE YEARS
Over the last three seasons, Oklahoma has amassed an 84-19 (.816) record, good for the nation's fourth best winning percentage and fourth most wins during the span:
By Winning Percentage
1. Duke (.880)
2. Cincinnati (.825)
3. Stanford (.821)
4. Oklahoma (.816)
1. Duke (95-13)
2. Cincinnati (85-18)
2. Tulsa (85-23)
4. Oklahoma (84-19)
UNDER KELVIN SAMPSON ENTERING 2002-03...