Sampson recaps Nebraska, previews Missouri

See inside for Kelvin Sampson's thoughts on OU's loss to Nebraska, injury situation and tonight's matchup against Missouri. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson talked with James Hale Monday afternoon about his Sooners loss to Nebraska, OU's injury situation and Tuesday night's matchup against Missouri.

Tip-off between the Sooners (9-3, 0-1) and Tigers (8-4, 1-0) is set for 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center.
See the end of the interview for the Oklahoma-Missouri pregame notes.

On the loss to Nebraska

Sampson: We're up 58-53 with under 40 seconds to go and we don't get a key rebound or get a key finish defensively. And then we have two breakdowns — we didn't get a rebound, we had a turnover. They score six points on both — two 3's.

So, we had to have some things go against us and Nebraska kinda had some things go right. But give them credit. They made two 3's and we just couldn't make the plays down the stretch.

On having to overcome injury after injury with his guards this season

Sampson: Yeah, how do you explain that? Michael (Neal)...what happened to him could've happened in the summer in a rat ball game. He just went up for a layup and came down wrong and landed on his hip.

He actually landed on his tailbone and it kinda reverberated through to his pelvis area in the front groin area. That's where he just pulled that muscle.

He couldn't do anything Friday. He flew with us to Lincoln and tried to walk through some stuff Friday night, but he couldn't didn't do anything. Then Saturday morning we had him in the whirlpool early trying to get him warmed up and stretched. The doctors did everything they could, but he just couldn't go.

Obviously, finding out an hour before tip that you didn't have one of the your better guards is a tough blow to any team on the road. But I was proud of our kids for what they did.

In the last five halves, we held Alabama to 33 percent (shooting), held SMU to 32 percent, and then at Nebraska we held them to 38 percent. And we continue to rebound well.

It comes down to making shots. One of the things we've emphasized the last couple days is we've got to get more shot attempts. When teams press us we can't be content with just getting it across halfcourt, setting up the offense and trying to go from there. We've got to make teams pay for pressing us and play a little faster. I think that will help our guards.

On another key being Austin Johnson's health

Sampson: He just hasn't been able to practice with the team. Those are adversity things you know you're going to have to go through the year.

You don't plan on those in August or September, October or November, but when they do come up you hope they're minimal at best. But for us they've been a little tough to handle because it's Austin and Michael Neal.

With Terrell (Everett) being the only other true guard in our lineup, I count David (Godbold) and Nate (Carter) as wings, we're getting Chris Walker ready and Austin's been able to practice the last day. Hopefully, he'll continue to improve.

I don't know when we'll get Michael back. I don't anticipate him playing tomorrow night.

On the matchup against Missouri

Sampson: Missouri has two really good guards — Thomas Gardner and Jimmy McKinney.

I remember him (McKinney) playing against Hollis his senior year. We beat Missouri in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game in '03 and McKinney was a freshman on that team.

He's been one of those guards that's been up and down, but he's coming off a game where he had 23 against Oklahoma State...a good win for them at home.

Gardner's been averaging 20 points plus and shooting about 45-50 percent from the 3-point line.

We've got to focus on those two guys. They've got other guys who can hurt you, but those two guys take a majority of their shots.

On not panicking after losing the first Big 12

Sampson: Well, there was five Big 12 games on Saturday and the home team won every one of them. So if that's the case, then I guess there's five schools panicking.

Look at the conference we play in. There's so many good teams. Right now, it looks like there's one really great team in the league and that's Texas.

There's so much parity with the other teams that until we get healthy, we're no different than anybody else.

If we get healthy and if Austin and Michael get 100 percent down the line, I think we have a chance to be pretty good. But right now we're just trying to do the best we can.

The Matchup
Missouri (8-4) at Oklahoma (9-3) -- 7 p.m. (CST) -- Norman, Okla. -- Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)

The game will be televised by ESPN Plus (Cox 11 in OKC/Cox 9 in Tulsa). Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Chris Piper (analyst) will call the action. To listen the game online, click the 'Listen Online' link below and then click the top picture on the page. The game will not be televised.

Listen Online

The Rankings
The Sooners are ranked 22nd in both the AP and Coaches Top 25 Polls and No. 47 in the RPI. Missouri is No. 125 in the RPI.

The Series
Oklahoma holds a 110-91 series lead against Missouri. The Sooners have won 11 of the last 14 games are 62-20 against the Tigers in Norman. Kelvin Sampson is 13-8 overall against Missouri.

The Tigers beat the Sooners last year in Columbia, 68-65, but the Sooners avenged the loss with an 83-79 win in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals in Kansas City.

Oklahoma Projected Starters:
F -- 21 --Taj Gray -- 6-9, 238, Sr. -- 15.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg
F -- 34 --Kevin Bookout -- 6-8, 270, Sr. -- 13.2 ppg, 7.3 rbg
F -- 24 --Nate Carter -- 6-6, 220, Jr. -- 7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
G -- 3 -- Terrell Everett -- 6-4, 188, Sr. -- 10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.5 apg
G -- 20 -- Austin Johnson -- 6-3, 168, Fr. -- 3.4 ppg, 2.0, rpg, 1.3 apg

Off the Bench
G -- 2 --Michael Neal -- 6-3, 191, Jr. -- 10.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G -- 15 --David Godbold -- 6-5, 217, So. -- 5.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg
F -- 32 --Taylor Griffin -- 6-7, 232, Fr. -- 2.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg
C -- 30 --Longar Longar -- 6-7, 232, Fr. -- 1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg

More on the Sooners
Roster | 2005 Stats | 2005 Schedule/Results

Missouri Projected Starters:
C -- 14 -- Kevin Young -- 6-9, 270, Sr. -- 8.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg
F -- 15 --Marshall Brown -- 6-6, 220, Sr. -- 9.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F -- 23 --Marcus Watkins -- 6-4, 200, Jr. -- 3.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg
G -- 1 -- Jimmy McKinney -- 6-3, 212, Sr. -- 11.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.2 apg
G -- 3 --Thomas Gardner -- 6-5, 225, Jr. -- 20.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.9 apg

Off the Bench
G -- 12 --Jason Horton -- 6-0, 185, So. -- 6.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg 4.9
C -- 44 --Kalen Grimes -- 6-8, 250, So. -- 2.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg
F -- 31 --Leo Lyons -- 6-9, 225, So. -- 4.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg

More on the Tigers
Roster | 2005 Stats | 2005 Schedule/Results

Tiger Photos:
Quin Snyder and Thomas Gardner...

Kevin Young and Marshall Brown

Jimmy McKinney and Jason Horton...

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