Gray helping put OU basketball back on the map

Junior forward Taj Gray talks about his emergence as one of the Big 12's best big men, the Sooners' resurgence and Saturday's game at Iowa State. Gray currently leads the Sooners in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg). (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

The Oklahoma men's basketball team is off to a 16-2 start overall and 5-0 in the Big 12 Conference, and one of the big reasons why is the play of newcomer Taj Gray.

The 6-foot-9 forward has been prolific through the first 18 games of the season as he has dominated the frontline of Texas and Oklahoma State, and Gray talked about that and more in an interview earlier this week.

JH: You and Kevin Bookout do a great job in the middle. Wouldn't you say one of the big reasons why both of you are so successful is because you have great hands and you can catch just about everything?

TG: "I think playing with Kevin and the rest of these guys has been a joy because we have jelled so well together. We can pass it well, which is something that I like to do. I think we are a good passing team, and it is something that the whole team likes to do."

JH: Don't you think the guards can make tougher passes because they trust that you and Bookout will come up with them?

TG: "Yeah, but you have to give most of the credit to our guards. Drew (Lavender) and Terrell (Everett), the last two games, played great. We get open looks because they give it to us in the right spot. Everything works out because our guards are playing so well."

JH: I can tell the guards have a lot of confidence because they are making acrobatic passes and playing on the break very well, which really get the offense going doesn't it?

TG: "Yes, when Drew and those guys play well, we play well. I think we follow Drew's lead. When he comes out and plays well then we play great."

JH: When I talked to you in junior college you seemed concerned sometimes about making the transition to D-1 basketball, so are you still concer

TG: "Like anytime when you take a step up it does take a while. Once we get going and once everything starts falling, we play well."

JH: What was it like for you to play in the Texas and Oklahoma State games here in the LNC?

TG: "It was pretty exciting and real fun. It was something new and a new experience for me. It was great competition against new people, which is great because right now I am still trying to get to know everybody. I guess I am making some new friends here in the Lloyd Noble Center, and in the league."

JH: Does it make you feel good that people are now talking about Oklahoma basketball?

TG: "Yeah, I think this team is starting to get something going. We are starting to get our name out there and this year we are starting to get everything together. We are putting Oklahoma basketball back on the map."

JH: I get the feeling that all of you feel you can still play better?

TG: "Yes, there is a lot more that we can still do. I think our team rebounding can get a lot better and our defense can always pick it up. I mean there is so much we can do and we can always get better on the defensive end and on the boards."

JH: What do you think about Iowa State on Saturday?

TG: "I think we match-up with every team that we play. At this point, we can pretty much play with anybody. We just have to go out there and do it."

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