Gray, Bookout power Sooners to exhibition win

Kevin Bookout scored 13 points and added a game-high 16 rebounds in OU's 70-35 exhibition win over Northeastern State Saturday night in Norman. (AP Photo)

The sixth-ranked Oklahoma men's basketball team had an easy time with a game, but out-manned Northeastern State team posting a 70-35 exhibition win Saturday night at the Lloyd Noble Center.

"It was the first exhibition game and I saw a lot of good things that we'll take and use to point out next week in practice, but I also saw a lot of things we have to work on to get better," said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "It was a typical first exhibition game. We had a lot of guys play a lot of minutes with different groups substituting a lot. We'll evaluate the tape next week and try to get better."

"I think Oklahoma is as good as advertised," said Northeastern State head coach Larry Gipson. "Their frontline is outstanding. I like their guard play. I think Kelvin does an outstanding job."

The Sooners used their tremendous inside advantage, as All-American candidate Taj Gray led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Senior captain Kevin Bookout had 13 points and 16 rebounds.

At the 10 minute mark of the first half, Gray himself had outscored Northeastern 18-6. Gray was the only Sooner to score at that point.

"I was impressed," said Sampson on Gray. "He was 12-for-15 from the field tonight, and on his three misses, he put it back in. He only went to the free throw line three times tonight. He's really improved his free throw shooting."

"I played well tonight but, as a team, there are a lot of things we need to work on to get better," Gray said on his game. "We played about as well as we could at this point in the season. We can get a lot better and there are a lot of things we can work on, but I loved our effort tonight."

The Sooners never got their offense going smoothly shooting only 46.2 percent from the floor and going 0-11 from the 3-point line. Michael Neal, who was considered the top outside shooter in Junior College basketball last year, went 1-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-4 from behind the arc.

Senior guard Terrell Everett was the only other Sooner in double figures with 10. He also added had five assists against just one turnover.

With Nate Carter out with a foot injury, Sampson started California Junior College Player of the Year Chris Walker at the point with Everett and sophomore David Godbold at guard.

Walker was solid in running the offense, but he did not score and had no assists and one turnover. Godbold was 3-for-10 from the field and finished with seven points and two rebounds.

OU out-rebounded Northeastern 47-36.

"We have a long ways to go," said Bookout. "We have a lot of new guys, this is their first game and they're going to get better. We were a little hesitant and lackadaisical at first but we're going to get better. There are a lot of little things we can get better at.

"We should have beaten them on the boards by more than 20 this game. We didn't shoot the ball well from the outside, but that does not matter. Our defense and rebounding should be our keys, not our shooting."

The Sooners will play next Saturday in their second and final exhibition against Pembroke State, with the tip-off time yet to be determined depending on when the OU-Texas A&M football game will be played.

The OU athletic administration expects the A&M contest to be at 11:00 a.m., and if that is the case, then the hoops game against Pembroke will be at 7:00 p.m. However, if the football game is at 6:00 p.m. the basketball game will be at noon.

OU-Northeastern State Box Score:

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