NORMAN, Okla. — The undefeated 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners host No. 16 Purdue Thursday night at the Lloyd Nobel Center. The game will be one of the featured games in college basketball on Thursday and OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson spoke with OUInsider.com on Wednesday about tonight's showdown.
JH: What are you thoughts on Purdue?
KS: "Purdue is well-coached and they are traditional a national power. We have great respect for Purdue, especially for their style of play. Gene Keady, Tom Izzo, the way we play here at Oklahoma and Marquette are certain programs that kind of emulate each other. We do emulate Purdue and vise-versa, and their kids are going to be mentally tough. We have to be a mentally tough team to win on the road, because you are going to have adversity at certain points, and certain times in the game you are going to have to suck it up and get it done. You have to have kids who believe in the system and who believe in each other. And that is how Purdue has always played, because of their coach Gene Keady."
JH: Purdue has already beaten Duke this year and they have some outstanding players. Tell us about their team.
KS: "Kenneth Lowe, No. 20, is a 6-3, 200 pound senior guard who is the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. He is there heart and soul. He is tough, smart and determined and an excellent defensive player. He just knows how to play and is a tough kid. They have four starters back from a team that lost to Texas at the buzzer last year in the NCAA Tournament and they beat LSU by 25. They have a veteran team that is a senior-dominated team. They have big, strong kids as all their kids up front are 6-10, 250 to 260 pounds and they are very athletic. This is Gene's best team in 15 years."
JH: Your team is coming off a big victory over Michigan State, so doesn't your team have a lot of confidence right now?
KS: "We are playing better, but I don't think we are anywhere close to a finished product. I still think Kevin Bookout's shoulder is still a factor with him. De'Angelo sat out practice yesterday and he and Kevin both because of their shoulders. They are just reoccurring, nagging things that we will just have to deal with all year. I think we are getting better and you know I don't get overly excited about losing or winning at this time of the year. The only thing I really care about is trying to improve and to make sure our team understands that hard work and improvement should be all that they are interested in. Where we are rated and who we have beaten is something that we should forget as soon as it is over, because when you go back to practice the next day it all comes down to getting better and improvement, and that is all that matters."
ONE-ON-ONE: Kelvin Sampson on Purdue
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