Bogut, Utes no small task for Sooners in round two

Junior forward Kevin Bookout (pictured above right) and third-seeded Oklahoma (25-7) will have their hands full with Utah (28-5) center Andrew Bogut (pictured above left) in Saturday's second round matchup in Tucson. Bogut, a 7-foot center from Australia who averages 20.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, is a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Player of the Year Awards. Tip-off between the Sooners and Utes is set for 2:40 p.m. CST.

The only thing standing between third-seeded Oklahoma and their third trip to the Sweet 16 in four years is sixth-seeded Utah and Andrew Bogut.

Who is Andrew Bogut? Well, if you haven't heard of him by now get ready because you certainly will, especially on Saturday when the Sooners (25-7) and Utes (28-5) tip-off at 2:40 p.m. CST in a NCAA second round game at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

The Utes, who advanced to Saturday's second round matchup with a 60-54 win over UTEP, have won 23 of their last 25 games and breezed through the Mountain West Conference regular season with a 13-1 record.

Along the way of their 28-5 season, Utah ripped Colorado 80-48 and defeated NCAA teams LSU and New Mexico. The Utes gave Arizona all they could handle in Tucson before losing 67-62, and lost to Washington 78-71 at the Great Alaska Shootout in November. Their other three losses came to Utah State and New Mexico (twice).

As for Bogut, Utah's attack stops and starts with the 7-foot center offensively and defensively. Bogut, a sophomore from Melbourne, Australia who recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Utes' first round win, has been nothing less than dominant this season averaging 20.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.

"There's nobody like him," said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "There's not any 7-footers that are as versatile and have that many ways to beat you. A lot of teams in this country have a great player, but nobody is as good as him."

So will the Sooners attempt to use their size and double-team the Utah big man?

"Sometimes the worst thing you can do to Bogut is double him," Sampson said. "Bogut is not only a great passer, he's a fun passer. He throws some of the doggonedest passes that I've ever seen. I think you have to credit his teammates for catching those things and finishing. He's fun to watch."

A finalist for both the John R. Wooden and Naismith Player of the Year Awards, Bogut has proven he can do it against the best and not just the Mountain West. Bogut scored 23 points and 12 rebounds against Washington, and then a little over a week later recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds against Arizona.

However, despite his offensive prowess Sampson says Bogut's real impact on the game comes on the defensive end of the court.

"He's a freak," Sampson said on Bogut's defensive skills. "There's a lot of 7-foot guys that have a 6-foot-9 wingspan. This kid is 7-foot and he plays like he's 7-foot-5. His reach is unbelievable. It bothers you. He helps Utah more defensively than offensively.

"Just watch how Utah defends ball screens. Most guys are taught to get up and hedge ball screens, he just stands in the middle of the lane and says to himself I don't need to go up there and help. He's telling the ball-handler, 'What are you going to do come to the basket?' If you don't have a guy who can pick and pop, like we don't, you could have a problem."

Senior guard Marc Jackson is Utah's second-leading scorer at 10.5 points per game. Jackson is also the Utes' best 3-point threat, hitting 44.8 percent (56-of-125) of his attempts this season. Junior Bryant Markson, a lanky 6-foot-6 forward, is the only other Utah player to average double figures (10.3).

"Their other guys are underrated," Sampson said. "Markson is as good any athlete in anybody's conference. (Tim) Drisdom is a brainy, heady guard. I love Marc Jackson. I love his attitude. He is the perfect teammate for Bogut because he gets the ball to him. He doesn't need a shot, he wants to get it to Bogut."

Utah is coached by Ray Giacoletti, who is in his first season in Salt Lake City. Giacoletti came to Utah from Eastern Washington, where his team gave the Sooners a battle last year in Norman and was tied with Oklahoma State at halftime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.

"Ray has done a good job," Sampson said. "We played Eastern Washington last year when Ray was there. You could tell that he was going to be a good coach. When I was at Washington State he was Bob Bender's (Washington coach) assistant. I remember having Ray and Ritchie McKay (current New Mexico coach) come ask me questions. Now they know way more than I do."

As for the Sooners, Sampson says his gameplan won't change despite Utah's big man in the middle.

"We're not going to change a whole lot of what we do. We are going to go at him," said Sampson. "We're still going to throw it inside. We think Kevin (Bookout) and Taj (Gray) can be effective."

The OU-Utah winner advances to the Regional Semifinals next Friday and Sunday in Austin, Texas.

The Starters
Oklahoma (25-7)

F -- 21 -- Taj Gray (6-9, 235, Jr., 14.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg)
F -- 34 -- Kevin Bookout (6-8, 259, Jr., 11.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
G -- 3 -- Drew Lavender (5-7, 153, So., 9.9 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 spg)
G -- 4 -- David Godbold (6-5, 212, Fr., 4.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
G -- 20 -- Terrell Everett (6-4, 185, Jr., 12.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.7 spg)

Utah (28-5)
C -- 4 -- Andrew Bogut (7-0, 240, So., 20.8 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg)
F -- 20 -- Bryant Markson (6-6, 190, Jr., 10.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
F -- 5 -- Justin Hawkins (6-5, 220, So., 8.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
G -- 11 -- Tim Drisdom (6-3, 210, Jr., 4.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G -- 2 -- Marc Jackson (6-1, 175, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg)

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