Sooners survive Tulsa scare
Defensive breakdowns nearly cost No. 14 Oklahoma in 81-73 victory
Posted: Tuesday November 25, 2003 10:53PM; Updated: Wednesday November 26, 2003 1:26AM
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- These Oklahoma Sooners sure can score. Then again, their defense needs a lot of work.
Jaison Williams scored 16 points and Lawrence McKenzie added 13 to help No. 14 Oklahoma overcome an unusually poor defensive effort in an 81-73 victory over Tulsa on Tuesday night.
"We just didn't have a lot of defensive stops," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "But we'll break it down and work on it. Tulsa really shot the 3 tonight."
The Sooners (3-0) outscored Tulsa 12-6 in the final 2:17 to seal the victory, helped by freshman point guard Drew Lavender's layup that started the run and Williams' quick putback after stealing an in-bounds pass.
Johnnie Gilbert punctuated the spurt by blocking a shot, then seconds later, throwing down a two-handed jam to give the Sooners a 77-67 lead.
Tulsa was led by Jason Parker's 20 points and Jarius Glenn's 15.
These younger Sooners -- the starting lineup has two true freshmen and two sophomores -- look nothing like Sampson's offensively challenged, yet defensively dominant teams that were led by All-American guard Hollis Price over the past four years.
"We need to play better defense," said junior guard Williams, himself a newcomer this season after transferring from the College of Southern Idaho. "We just need to put it all together."
Tulsa (1-1) managed to shoot 59 percent, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, but couldn't keep the quicker, more aggressive Sooners from controlling the pace of the game.
The Sooners, led by the quick, 5-foot-7 Lavender, got plenty of open looks at the basket in their halfcourt offense and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds. Tulsa only had seven.
The Golden Hurricane didn't help matters by making just eight of 17 shots from the free throw line. Oklahoma also scored 24 points off of Tulsa's 17 turnovers.
"We made a lot of mistakes, we missed a lot of free throws, we gave them a lot of offensive rebounds, and we were still in the ballgame at the end," Tulsa coach John Phillips said. "So I like the competitive spirit of our bunch."
Oklahoma surpassed the 80-point mark just seven times in 34 games last season. The Sooners have already done it twice this season.
But midway through the first half, Oklahoma didn't look like it would be able to score much either.
Tulsa led 22-9 with just under 11 minutes left until halftime when Oklahoma reserve swingman Jason Detrick got the rally started.
Detrick, who redshirted last season after being the sixth-man on Oklahoma's Final Four squad in 2002, scored on three straight possessions to break a tie and give the Sooners a 36-30 lead.
"I was not in there trying to do anything real spectacular," Detrick said. "I just wanted to get in and get a feel for the game."
Oklahoma closed out the half on Lavender's dazzling backward bounce pass through his legs to a cutting Gilbert, who was fouled as he scored on a layup.
The Sooners led 41-37 at the break and never trailed again.
Detrick had 11 points for the Sooners, Jabahri Brown had 10 and Kevin Bookout also scored 10 along with nine rebounds.
Oklahoma has now won 49 of its last 51 home games.
These in-state rivals, both regulars in the NCAA tournament in recent seasons, have played each other only three times in the past 20 years. Oklahoma and Tulsa last met in 1996, with the Golden Hurricane winning 78-75 in Oklahoma City.
This is the first of a three-game series between the schools.
From the looks of the crowd at the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday night, however, it appears it might take some time for the rivalry to catch on again. There appeared to far less than the announced crowd of 12,051 in the stands.