RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | OKLAHOMA INSIDER
RECORD: - REGION: East SEED: 1|
COACH: Kelvin Sampson CONFERENCE: Big 12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
When you think of the Sooners, you think of Kelvin Sampson's grit and Hollis Price's heart. Sampson has another hard-nosed team led by the veteran Price, his high school teammate Quannas White and wing scorer Ebe Ere. Kevin Bookout, the potential Olympian some day in the shot put, is a physical presence inside. The key to a long run by OU in the tournament could be more consistent play by Johnny Gilbert and Jabahri Brown inside. But, if things get tight, look for Price to deliver one his trademark "big shots."
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How great would it be for Price to play for the national title in his home town? Not that we're rooting for anyone.
How They Got Here
The Sooners are, after all still coached by Kelvin Sampson. So there's only one way Oklahoma, a Final Four team a year ago, got here -- with great effort, tough defense and rebounding.
The Sooners have simply walked through most of this season. Of their losses, only
one -- at Missouri -- came against an unranked team. Oklahoma led the Big 12 in scoring defense, giving up just more than 60 points per game. Only Kansas, one of the nation's highest scoring teams, was able to reach the 70-point mark and that came in a loss to the Sooners.
After losing to a then-ranked Alabama team to start the season and Mississippi State in December, Oklahoma -- which is inexperienced in the frontcourt -- has improved as the season progressed. The Sooners defeated Michigan State and Connecticut before Big 12 play began. In league play, Sampson's team made things look pretty simple in the
nation's most competitive conference.
When Kansas arrived in Norman, the Sooners simply gave the Jayhawks a butt-whipping. Only a late Kansas rally cut Oklahoma's margin of victory to seven.
If there was a weakness on this team it was its regular-season performances against Texas. In the first game, the Sooners were held scoreless for a long stretch of the second half. In the regular season finale, Oklahoma coughed up a double-digit second-half lead and lost in the game's final minute.
What We Like
Two words: Hollis Price. The senior guard who has already lead the Sooners to one Final Four, is simply fantastic. Despite being only 170 pounds, Price is fearless. The guard doesn't worry about
driving into the paint and getting contact.
He can also beat defenders off of the dribble, shoot from the perimeter and he gets his teammates involved. Simply put, he's one of the toughest players in college hoops,
a kind of guy who can carry a team in March. He is clearly as important
to his team as any player in college basketball.
What We Don't Like
Can the Sooners get a key bucket when they need it? While guards Price and Ebi Ere were scorers last season, they also got help a year ago from forwards Aaron McGhee and Daryan Selvy. McGhee could get the Sooners 15 to 20 points a night.
This season, Kevin Bookout, Jabahri Brown and Johnnie Gilbert are Oklahoma's primary big men and they combine to average 19.4 points per game in 72.6 minutes per game. Is that enough?