NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma doesn't often enjoy an advantage
inside. But when the Sooners have one, Kelvin Sampson makes sure
his team exploits it.
The Sooners (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) went inside to Kevin Bookout and
Taj Gray repeatedly Saturday to open Big 12 Conference play with an
85-55 win over Colorado.Colorado (8-4, 0-1) was without six-foot-9 junior center Julius
Ashby, who was averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds
before suffering a tendon tear in his left foot Dec. 21."Give Oklahoma a lot of credit," Colorado Coach Ricardo Patton
said. "I think they played a terrific game today. They pounded the
ball inside, like we thought they would, and we had no answer for
that. I don't think our team matched Oklahoma's toughness. OU
dominated us in every way."Bookout scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Gray had 19 points and 11 rebounds to record his sixth
double-double of the season."With Taj and Kevin inside we have someone to throw it to and
the other team has to react," Sampson said.Without Ashby, it was hard for the Buffaloes to do much about
Oklahoma's inside game. The Sooners outrebounded Colorado 48-35 and
shot 55 percent from the floor to win their ninth game in the last
10.Junior Lamont Arrington started at center for Colorado. He
finished with four points and three rebounds.Oklahoma opened the game on a 15-2 run with all but three points
coming off of lay ups.Oklahoma dominated underneath from the opening tip, scoring 24
of 44 points from less than three feet away. Thirty of Oklahoma's
44 first half points came from less than five feet from the goal.Bookout, Everett and Gray shot a combined 18-of-20 in the first
period, scoring all but two of Oklahoma's 44 points."We played well tonight as a unit," Gray said.Oklahoma started the second half on an 11-0 run and extended its
lead to as much as 31 with more than six minutes remaining and
never trailed.The Sooners did have a scare late in the second half when
6-foot-8 senior Johnnie Gilbert went down away from the ball
holding his left ankle. After the game it was announced that
Gilbert suffered a partially torn tendon at the bottom of his foot.
He will be re-examined Sunday and is day-to-day.Oklahoma hosts Connecticut Monday night.