Preview: Sooners ready to dance with cinderella

Oklahoma's Jabahri Brown slams one into the basket during Thursday's practice at the NCAA men's basketball East regional basketball tournament in Albany, N.Y. Oklahoma, the No. 1 seed in the East, will play 12th-seeded Butler on Friday in the Sweet 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Oklahoma's time to dance with cinderella has finally arrived.

The Sooners' road to a second straight Final Four gets a little rougher on Friday night when they take on this year's cinderella story – Butler – in a Sweet 16 matchup at the Pepsi Center in Albany, N.Y. Tip-off is set for 6:10 p.m.

Despite the Bulldogs' ‘cinderella' label, Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson says Butler wears no glass slipper.

"Everybody is calling them cinderella, but cinderella doesn't beat Mississippi State and Louisville," said Sampson. "They may beat one of them, but not both."

"All the one seeds have a chance to get to the Final Four but all the one seeds can all get beat before that," Sampson continued. "Look at Arizona versus Gonzaga or Texas versus Purdue. We haven't ran into ours yet, but we're going to have a close game where we're going to need some breaks to win a close one down the stretch."

Oklahoma guard Hollis Price doesn't buy into Butler's underdog status either.

"I remember when Oklahoma was a 13-seed before I got here and knocked off Arizona," said Price. "So, regardless of the seed it really doesn't matter at this point."

The Bulldogs, who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1962, are led by their senior backcourt duo of Darnell Archey and Brandon Miller. Archey, who is Butler's all-time leader in three-point field goals, hit a career-best eight of nine three-pointers in the Bulldogs second round win over Louisville, and matched his career scoring high with 26 points against the Cardinals.

"He's the leader on their team," said Quannas White. "He's just a tough, hard-nosed competitor. I'm just going to have to out-tough him."

Butler's strength is clearly shooting the three, and Archey isn't the only one who can shoot it. The Bulldogs matched their season-high with 14 three-point field goals against Louisville and shot a season-best .636 from beyond the three-point arc.

"We're just going to keep a hand in their face and make them do something they don't like to do, and that's penetrate," said White. "We'll just stay on their guards because they've got three good three-point shooters."

"I think if we do a good job of paying attention to the scouting report our coaches give us, defending the three will be easy," Price added. "We were second defending the three (in Big 12 play), so hopefully we can continue that."

"They're going to get after it and we're going to get after it," said White. "It's just who fights the hardest and who throws the first punch, and I think that will be us."

In addition to Archey and Miller, the Bulldogs also have two other senior starters in Lewis Curry and Joel Cornette. Together, the foursome will finish as Butler's all-time winningest class with 100 wins over four years.

"This is a senior dominated team," said Sampson. "This is a much better version of the Indiana State team we played two years ago. Their best players are seniors and four-year starters. They're well-coached, hungary and they got snubbed last year. Now they're here in this tournament to prove that they belong and they do."

But the Sooners have four seniors of their own, and that serves as motivation for Price.

"Knowing that the next game could be our last game — that's the only thing that really matters," said Price. "You can't get too far ahead of yourself. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves by saying the Final Four is not there. This next game can be our last, but I think we're real motivated being seniors."

The Series
Butler holds a 2-1 series advantage over Oklahoma. The teams most recent meeting was at the Big Island Invitational on Nov. 28, 1997, in Hilo, Hawaii. The Bulldogs beat then No. 18 Oklahoma 73-63. Corey Brewer led Oklahoma with 15 points while Eduardo Najera and Robert Allison added 11 and 10, respectively.

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