OU-Texas Tech Preview: The General is in town

Sampson not surprised by Texas Tech's turnaround under Bob Knight

When Oklahoma and Texas Tech tip-off at 12:45 pm inside the Lloyd Noble Center Saturday, all eyes will be on Red Raider Head Coach Bobby Knight.

Knight, who took over for James Dickey after he was fired from Indiana last summer for breaking the universities "zero tolerance" behavior policy, has his Red Raiders rolling.

While fans continue to focus on Knight and his on and off-court antics of the past,Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson says the real focus should be on Knight and the team he's put together at Texas Tech.

"They're a team that's 13-1. The one loss they have they were up 17, so they easily could be undefeated," said Sampson on Texas Tech. "Coach Knight has those kids believing. They're playing with a great sense of purpose. They're playing with great confidence and they believe in what they're doing."

So far during his first season in Lubbock Knight is proving that there is more to his act then throwing chairs, cursing out reporters or choking players.

Knight's Red Raiders have reeled off 10 straight wins since dropping a 69-65 loss to Sam Houston State on Nov. 24., and have already surpassed last years win total by four games.

"He's a veteran. He's a professional coach," said Sampson of Knight's turnaround at Tech. "He has three national championships and numerous Big 10 championships. He's coached in big games and he's had media scrutiny."

"Coach Knight does what he does. He's not overly interested in your opinion, or my opinion, or anybody else. He's a great coach whose track record is proven. We talk about legends and icons, they just don't get much better then Bobby Knight."

Much like Sampson did with when he took over the Oklahoma program, Knight has taken over Texas Tech and had immediate success with a team that finished 9-19 last year.

"When I came to Oklahoma I was very fortunate that I inherited a first-team all-conference player in Ryan Minor. Coach Knight is is doing the same thing with Andy Ellis, and he's got good parts around him."

Ellis, a 6-11 senior, is the Red Raiders lone returning starter from a year ago and leads the team in scoring (17.9), rebounding (7.6) and blocked shots (1.2).

Sophomore guard Andre Emmett is a high-flying wing who has been one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 while averaging 17.1 points per game after averaging only seven points last season.

As soon as Knight was hired in Lubbock he hit the recruiting trail and has apparently hit the jackpot with starters Kasib Powell, Pawel Storozynski and Will Chavis.

Powell, a 6-7 forward, is averaging 15.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists, while Chavis is the teams best three-point threat, hitting 40 percent from behind the arc.

Storozynski, who missed the teams first seven games after serving a seven-game NCAA suspension due to overseas playing experience while a high schooler in France, has asserted himself as another inside presence alongside Ellis and is averaging 9.9 points and 9.6 rebounds.

"They've got good players. They go seven deep and they all can score," said Sampson who is 0-2 head-to-head against Knight. "One of the marks of Coach Knight's teams is that all five positions can score baskets. And he's got a star to build around in Andy Ellis and that makes them tough.

"Coach Knight is one of the best in the business. I think he's one of the best there's ever been at game-planning and preparing for his opponents. So they'll be well-prepared for us."

"I think it's a heckuva matchup," continued Sampson. "I think it's two very good teams playing early in the conference season and I think either team can win. It should be a great crowd and we're looking forward to having some fun."

Projected Starters
G 14 Andre Emmett (6-5, 205, So.)
G 21 Will Chavis (5-10, 171, Jr.)
C 55 Andy Ellis (6-11, 235, Sr.)
F 11 Pawel Storozynski (6-8, 245, Jr.)
F 22 Kasib Powell (6-7, 198, Jr.)

F 13 Aaron McGhee (6-8, 250, Sr.)
C 21 Jabahri Brown (6-10, 210, So.)
G 2 Ebi Ere (6-5, 215, Jr.)
G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Jr.)
G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 165, Jr.)

The Series
Oklahoma leads the all-times series against Texas Tech, 16-11. Oklahoma has split with the Red Raiders last season and have won six of their last seven meetings against the Red Raiders. The Sooners are 10-4 vs. Tech in Big 12 play and Kelvin Sampson is 6-4 against Tech and 0-3 head-to-head against Bob Knight. Two of Sampson's losses against Knight were when he coached as Washington State, while the third came in a 94-87 overtime loss in 1998.

The Coaches
Knight is 13-1 so far in his first season at Texas Tech. Knight spent has also spent 29 years at Indiana and six at Army where he compiled a 764-289 record between the two schools. Sampson is holds a 168-70 record at OU and is 344-218 overall.

The Polls
Oklahoma is currently No. 6 in the Coaches Poll and fifth in the Associated Press Top 25. Texas Tech is 26th in the AP Poll and 10th in the RPI.

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