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Oklahoma 71, Illinois Chicago 63
Posted: Friday March 15, 2002 05:57 PM
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DALLAS (Ticker) -- Aaron McGhee had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Hollis Price added 17 as second-seeded Oklahoma secured a 71-63 victory over 15th-seeded Illinois-Chicago in the first round of the West Region.

Oklahoma will face seventh-seeded Xavier in the second round on Sunday.

McGhee collected seven points as the Sooners (28-4) embarked on an 18-3 run during a 7:42 span in the opening half. The senior forward converted a pair of free throws with 6:32 remaining in the period as Oklahoma opened a 28-13 cushion.

"The opponent had nothing to do with it," said Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson of McGhee's performance. "He played that way versus Texas and Oklahoma State. I wanted him to be a great player and a great rebounder. Great players get rebounds and play good defense." Price made both of his team's 3-pointers as the Sooners extended their winning streak to nine games despite shooting a season-low 11 percent (2-of-18) from beyond the arc.

"There are times when we aren't going to get the shots," Price said. "The thing we have to rely on is our defense." Oklahoma held Illinois-Chicago (20-14) to just 33 percent shooting (19-of-57) from the field.

Corey Little, Cedrick Banks and Martell Bailey scored 11 points apiece for the Horizon League tournament-champion Flames, who also suffered a first-round exit in their only previous NCAA appearance in 1998.

"I'm extremely proud of their hustle and the way they hung in there," Flames coach Jimmy Collins said. "When you lose to a team the caliber of Oklahoma, you can't do anything but be proud of the way you played." Oklahoma fared better on Friday than in its previous outing as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 1984, the Sooners lost by four points to Dayton.

McGhee recorded his ninth double-double in the last 14 games. Oklahoma is 13-1 during the stretch, suffering its lone defeat in overtime at archrival Oklahoma State on February 13, when McGhee recorded a season-high 27 points.

The Sooners' second-leading scorer this season with 15.0 points per game, McGhee broke a 10-10 tie 6:36 into the game and ignited Oklahoma's outburst by sinking a free throw.

Bailey hit a pair of free throws, but McGhee made his second basket of the spurt to give the Sooners a 17-12 advantage with 11:42 to go.

"It's definitely hard work because you play better teams," Bailey said of his NCAA Tournament experience. "The refs let you play the game. We just have to go back to work harder to return to the tourney next year." After Jon-Pierre Mitchom converted a free-throw to slice Illinois-Chicago's deficit to four, Daryan Selvy tallied the next nine points for Oklahoma. He scored off a pass from fellow reserve guard Jason Detrick to give Oklahoma a 19-13 cushion.

Selvy converted a three-point play with 9:20 remaining in the half to extend the Sooners' lead to nine.

"We wanted to go out there and play hard," Selvy said. "When you play hard, good things happen." Selvy put home the rebound off Ebi Ere's missed 3-point shot and then scored on a dunk off a feed from McGhee to make it 26-13.

The Sooners pulled down 19 boards off the offensive glass and outrebounded the Flames overall, 47-36.

McGhee, who finished the first half with 13 points and eight boards, was fouled when he collected the rebound off another errant 3-pointer from Ere. His two free throws gave the Sooners their largest lead of the game, 28-13.

The Flames never reduced the deficit to fewer than seven thereafter.

Selvy finished with 13 points and Ere tallied 10 as the Sooners had four-double-digit scorers for the 14th time this season.

"That is the beauty of our team," Sampson said. "Selvy came off the bench and scored 13 points. We don't have a blue print. We just try to win the game no matter what." Meanwhile, Banks and Jordan Kardos -- the Flames' top two scorers -- combined for just 17 points on 5-of-20 shooting. The duo averaged 26.5 per contest entering Friday.

 


 
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