Nov. 29, 2002
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Ranked eighth in this week's AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Oklahoma (2-1) hosts unranked Prairie View A&M (1-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Lloyd Noble Center. The game will air live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network (flagship KOMA 1520 AM in Oklahoma City) with Ed Murray (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. The game will also be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KSBI Channel 52/Cox Cable 9 in OKC). Chuck Cooperstein (play-by-play) and Renzi Stone (analyst) will announce. Tickets are available and cost between $15, $20 and $25, depending on location.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M PROJECTED STARTERS F 1 Malachi Thurston (6-6, 190, Jr.) C 34 Roderick Riley (6-11, 327, Sr.) G 3 Gregory Burks (5-10, 161, Sr.) G 11 Kevin Cooper (6-3, 160, Jr.) G 20 Blannon Campbell (6-0, 176, Sr.)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, Jr.) G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Sr.) G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.)
After a season-opening six-point loss to Alabama (the Crimson Tide is now ranked fourth in the AP poll), Oklahoma earned the Sooner Invitational title last weekend with wins over UC Irvine (87-65) and Princeton (82-73). OU shot just .415 against Alabama but posted a .508 mark against UC Irvine and a .536 mark versus Princeton. Prior to the Sooner Invitational, Oklahoma had gone 22 straight games without shooting .500 or better from the field. OU will be going for its 25th consecutive home victory on Saturday.
Senior guard Ebi Ere is the team's leading scorer and rebounder through three games with 21.7 and 6.0 per-game averages. He was named the Sooner Invitational MVP after averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals per outing. Fellow senior guards Hollis Price and Quannas White were named to the all-tournament team, as was junior center Jabahri Brown.
ABOUT PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
Thanks to a 78-75 victory at Houston last Saturday, Prairie View A&M will bring a 1-0 record to Lloyd Noble Center this weekend. The Panthers return three starters from last year's 10-20 (8-10 Southwestern Athletic Conference) squad. Leading the way is Gregory Burks, a 5-10 senior guard who averaged team highs with 17.6 points and 4.8 assists per game last season. Other starters back are 6-11, 327-pound junior center Roderick Riley (10.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg) and 6-6 senior forward Jamar Miles (10.0 ppg and 4.4 rpg). Both Riley and Miles came off the bench at Houston. The Panthers were picked to finish ninth out of 10 teams in the SWAC Preseason Poll.
In the team's victory over Houston, senior guard Blannon Campbell scored a team-high 16 points and added five rebounds and five assists to pace the Panthers. Burks added 15 points, five boards and four assists while junior forward Malachi Thurston and Riley contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively. Prairie View shot .574 from the field, .545 (6-for-11) from three-point range and .556 (10-for-18) from the foul line against the Cougars. Houston recorded a .407 field goal mark. The Panthers registered 19 assists against just nine turnovers and outscored the Cougars 44-35 in the second half to overcome a 40-34 halftime deficit.
Jerome Francis, Jr. is in his first season as a collegiate head coach. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Houston and prior to that was on staffs at Bowling Green, Butler, Ohio State, Wyoming and Ball State. Francis was a four-year starter for Ohio State from 1986-89.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M SERIES HISTORY
Saturday's game will mark the first between Oklahoma and Prairie View A&M.
SOONER INVITATIONAL LEFTOVERS
HARTFORD GAME TIME CHANGED TO 2 P.M.
Due to the Oklahoma football team's appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game next Saturday (Dec. 7), tip time for the OU's men's basketball home game against Hartford that day has been changed to 2 p.m. The contest will still be televised by the Sooner Sports Network as originally planned. The Oklahoma-Colorado football game will start at 7 p.m.
ERE STRONG AT START
Guard Ebi Ere has started his senior season with a sense of purpose. The 6-5, 215-pounder has led the Sooners in scoring each game (24, 14 and 27 points) and averages a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Last year he shot .427 from the field and .323 from three-point land. So far this year he owns .548 and .400 respective marks. Ere also averages 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per outing. Against Princeton in the Sooner Invitational championship game, he registered 27 points (two shy of his career high), seven rebounds, a career-high six assists, a blocked shot and two steals.
One of the best guards to ever wear an Oklahoma uniform, senior Hollis Price has already passed six players (Corey Brewer, Bobby Jack, Garfield Heard, David Little, Aaron Curry and Al Beal) on the school's all-time scoring chart this season. He now stands 16th on the career list with 1,254 points and needs 84 points to tie Mookie Blaylock for 15th. 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 (.830), sixth in three-point field goal attempts (413), seventh in three-point field goals (150), seventh in minutes played (3,256), eighth in steals (176), ninth in assists (377) 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 considered a solid preseason 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 shot .382 from three-point range and .838 from the foul line. He wrapped up 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 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting .579 from the field in 27.3 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 4.3 points in 16.3 minutes per outing and registered a game-high 25 in the team's second exhibition contest. Center Larry Turner is averaging 2.0 points and 2.3 boards in 10.3 minutes per contest. Redshirt freshman forward Matt Gipson did not play against Alabama but averaged 3.5 points and 1.5 rebounds against UC Irvine and Princeton. Collectively, the quartet has scored 50 points (16.7 per game) and grabbed 31 boards (10.3 per game).
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 three games, the Sooners own a .814 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 2-0 this season, is 343-59 (.853) inside the building since it opened for the 1975-76 campaign. The Sooners are 106-16 (.868) at home under ninth-year head coach Kelvin Sampson and have won 24 straight. The 24-game home winning streak is OU's longest since winning 51 in a row in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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...