Nov. 14, 2002

NEW YORK - Just one day before it opens its 2002-03 season against Alabama in the Coaches vs. Cancer AT&T Wireless Classic in New York, the Oklahoma men's basketball team was ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN.com. It marked the first No. 1 national ranking of the preseason for the Sooners.

"Sure, the easy picks were Arizona or Kansas," says ESPN.com. "Why, then OU? In a word: Toughness. In two: Hollis Price. Price has gone through personal struggles, persevered during his career, and is mentally tough enough to carry the Sooners to the national title."

Following Oklahoma in the Web site's top five were Arizona, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Florida. Big 12 foe Texas is ranked sixth while Alabama, Thursday's opponent, is ranked seventh. Michigan State, OU's opponent on Jan. 4, is ranked ninth.

ESPN.com's Preseason Rankings
1. Oklahoma
2. Arizona
3. Kansas
4. Pittsburgh
5. Florida
6. Texas
7. Alabama
8. Duke
9. Michigan State
10. Xavier
11. Oregon
12. Gonzaga
13. Georgia
14. Maryland
15. Kentucky
16. UCLA