Sooners drop exhibition opener

Oklahoma freshman point guard Drew Lavender goes up for a shot during the second half of the Sooners' 89-82 loss to Athletes First. Lavender led the Sooners with 21 points. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma Men's Basketball team lost their first exhibition game since the 2000 season with a 89-82 loss to Athletes First Monday night in Norman.

The young Sooners, playing without their best inside post player Kevin Bookout (sore shoulder), were hammered on the boards 50-28 and never showed the trademark defense that made Oklahoma an elite basketball power over the past several seasons.

True freshman point guard Andrew Lavender, who was impressive at times and looked like a freshman at times, did manage to lead the Sooners in scoring with 21 points. Lavender finished with five assists and three turnovers.

"This team is going to be on a learning curve for a while," said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, who is 17-2 in exhibition games at OU. "We have so many new players and young guys. We have some very talented kids, but you could tell that it was men playing against boys out there tonight. We've got to get guys back healthy, but more importantly we've got to get guys to compete. When you get out-rebounded 50-28, it has a tendency to get your attention."

"They are young from what I understand and they are going to have a good team," said Athletes First Head Coach Gary Vick. "They have Jabahri Brown and Larry Turner and the freshman point guard is amazing. Lavender did a great job and it is just a matter of time before Coach Sampson works some more with them to get them jelling together and playing up to their capability."

Jabahri Brown shook off a sprained ankle to finish with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. De'Angelo Alexander also finished with 16 points and Jason Detrick added 10.

Only Brown had double figure rebounds. Junior post Johnnie Gilbert started, but wound up playing only 17 minutes finishing with two points and three rebounds. Junior Jaison Williams was solid off the bench with eight points and four assists, but he did turn the ball over three times. The Sooners finished with 10 turnovers for the game.

Oklahoma trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, but managed to take the lead at 73-72 on a Jabahari Brown dunked. Brown extended OU's lead to 75-72 with 7:09 to go on a tip-in, but a five minute scoring drought down the stretch doomed the Sooners.

Former Missouri Tiger John Woods ripped the Sooners for 30 points and he was 6-for-6 from 3-point range.

OU shot only 45.9 percent from the field and finished 6-for-20 from 3-point range. Athletes First shot 50 percent from the floor and hit 7 of their 9 three point shots.

"We know where we are at right now and we can only get better," said Brown. "That is all we can do now, is get better, which we will. There are things we need to work on. We saw tonight and we'll start there tomorrow."

"I think last year we beat this team 100 to 61 and proceeded to play one of our worst games against Alabama," Sampson said. "Don't get overly concerned about wins or losses. It's exhibition season."

The Sooners next exhibition will this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. against EA sports at the LNC.

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