The Oklahoma men's basketball team closed out their exhibition season in impressive fashion by dominating a solid EA Sports Central club, 85-56, in front of a disappointing crowd of 3,109 at the renovated Lloyd Noble Center Friday in Norman.
The Sooners proved to be too athletic for the visitors from start to finish. OU hit only 37.5 percent of their shots, but came up with 20 offensive boards and fired an amazing 33 more shots to offset their poor eye from the field. EA Sports was much bigger than the Sooners often playing with two 6'11 post, however the Sooners easily won the battle of the boards 56-40.
"I have been doing this for three years and we have never been hammered like this," said EA Sports Phil Bryant. "Oklahoma is so athletic, they are easily the most athletic team that we have played this year. They hit the boards in waves and they can rebound from all five positions. They worked us off the dribble and constantly put pressure on us by darting to the hoop. We couldn't keep them off the glass and we couldn't control them off the dribble. Oklahoma is really good and if this is an indication of how good they can be then they will be a national contender this year."
Once again, the Sooners finished with balanced scoring with five players in double figures. OU had four players in double figures in their opening exhibition win.
Jason Detrick and Daryan Selvy came off the bench to lead the Sooners with 16 points. Junior guard Hollis Price had only three at halftime, but finished with 15 points. Ebi Ere had 12 and also Aaron McGhee finished with 12.
Ere led the Sooners on the boards with 13, most of them the acrobatic variety. Johnny Gilbert came off the bench with eight, while Selvy and Price finished with seven.
The Sooners hounded EA Sports on defense forcing them into a terrible shooting night at 36.4 percent, and less than 30 percent from three-point range.
"I loved our defense tonight. For an exhibition game this early in the season, that might have been as good of a defensive game that I have ever had a team play," said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson following the game.
"Making shots is like gasoline in a lawnmower, because offense sustains your effort. We have been telling these kids, especially the new kids, that they don't have to make shots to win. When we make shots we are going to beat most people, but the sign of a good team is when you are struggling offensively and you still find a way to win the game."
"That is the thing that pleases me tonight the most," Sampson continued. "We had a ton of open shots, but didn't shoot the ball well. However, we played well enough to score 85 points and beat a pretty good team by 29. So, I was encouraged. I saw a lot of improvement from the first exhibition game and a lot of improvement defensively. This team has a great attitude and this team has been working hard since Tuesday. This is a great group of kids. They are an extraordinary group of kids as far as focus and concentration. They have a great chemistry and they are going to keep getting better."
Sampson started 6-9 Jozsef Szendrei tonight at the post, bringing the athletic 6-6 Selvy off the bench. The lineup change worked well as Szendrei was solid in 16 minutes of action with five rebounds and good post defense, while Selvy gave the Sooners a much needed spark off the bench.
"I talked to Daryan (Selvy) when I decided to put him on the bench and I told him that I was doing this because it made our team better," said Sampson. "He gives us something in the game that none of our other players can. He changes the game. Jozsef (Szendrei) can't do that. Jozsef can start the game and bang and do his deal, but the game changes when Selvy gets in there. You have to credit his maturity and credit his acceptance of his role. To be a good team you have to have kids that will not only accept their role, but understand it."
Selvy is in a unique position, knowing that he is one of the Sooners five best players, but still playing the sixth man role, which is so valuable to the success of a team.
"I just want to win and I will do whatever the team needs me to do," said Selvy. "When I get the call I will give it my all and leave everything that I have out there on the court. At first it was tough to accept when Coach Sampson talked to me about it. However, I sat down and thought about it and realized he is doing the right thing for the team to win."
The Sooners are an obvious streak three-point shooting team firing up 33 with only eight finding the mark. However, they made four of five in the final four minutes of the game. Ere was 1-for-9 and starting point guard Quannas White once again struggled with his shooting going 1-for-7 from three-point range and 2-of-9 from the field.
The Sooners will begin play for real when they host Central Connecticut at the LNC Monday night during the first round of the Preseason NIT. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. and tickets are still available for the game.
Selvy sparks Sooners win over EA Sports
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