2:30 PM ET, December 20, 2003
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma's scoring burden hasn't yet become too big for the smallest Sooner to suit up in more than 60 years.Freshman Drew Lavender scored 23 points and had five assists to lead No. 8 Oklahoma to a methodical 68-46 win over Jackson State on Saturday.The 5-foot-7 point guard has led the Sooners (8-0) in scoring for three straight games, finally asserting control of Oklahoma's often-spotty offense. Lavender scored 14 points in the second half, helping the Sooners shake off the plucky Tigers down the stretch."There's nothing that he does that doesn't surprise me," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "He gets 23 points today and he's in the locker room beating himself up because he had some stupid turnovers."Jason Detrick, OU's leading scorer, was the only other Sooner to get into double figures with 12 points. He sat out the second half after tumbling to floor on a hard foul under the basket just before halftime.Lavender, overshadowed by NBA rookie sensation LeBron James during a standout prep career in Columbus, Ohio, has emerged as the Sooners' star during nonconference play.He's second on the team in scoring at nearly 12 points a game and is the leader in assists (4.6). His 23 points were the most by a freshman in Sampson's 10 years in Norman.Lavender has had to assume more of the scoring load as Oklahoma struggles with injuries -- Detrick, freshman guard Lawrence McKenzie and sophomores Kevin Bookout and De'Angelo Alexander have all missed games this season."I've never seen anything like this," Sampson lamented.But Lavender's toughness has been most impressive thus far, as the 155-pounder -- and OU's shortest player since 5-5 Harold "Scooter" Hines played in the mid-40s -- has gamely endured defense geared to bounce him around."He's better than what I thought he was," Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said. "He's an awful good guard."Ishmael Joyce led Jackson State with 13 points. Aaron Gilliom added 11.The Sooners have to wait almost a month before Big 12 play starts, but they've definitely got an early jump on the Southwestern Athletic Conference crown.Jackson State (2-5) was the third team that Oklahoma has played this season from the league of 10 historically black colleges stretching from Houston to Montgomery, Ala. The Sooners have won those games by an average of 39 points, including a 94-24 rout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 2."I think we were a little bit intimidated at first, because of what they've done to other teams," Anderson said.Oklahoma has a week off for the holidays, then plays Texas-Pan American on Dec. 29.The Sooners jumped out to a 27-6 lead midway through the first half, forcing Jackson State into 2-of-11 shooting and causing seven turnovers. Oklahoma contested nearly every shot early on, with center Jabarhi Brown punctuating the defensive effort by hustling down court to swat away what appeared to be an uncontested layup."I tried to get us off on the right foot," said Brown, who had 10 rebounds and three blocks. "I thought if I came out with some intensity, the team would follow me."But the Tigers showed a little bit of fight, going on a 19-5 run to close out the half mostly on the strength of three 3-pointers by Gilliom.Gilliom even hit a 3 while falling out of bounds right in front of the Sooners' bench in the final seconds before halftime, bringing Jackson State within 38-30.That was as good as it got for the Tigers, who have played four road games in the past eight days.Jackson State ran out of gas in the second half, managing just 16 points on 15 percent shooting."I thought we played solid tonight until we got tired, especially in the last half," Anderson said. "I am not making excuses because they are a better team than we are, but we probably could have given them a better game if we had more energy down the stretch."
|» Dec 20, 2003||@OKLA 68, JKST 46||Recap|