Sampson on Wisconsin-Milwaukee

See inside for Kelvin Sampson's comments on OU's matchup with Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the keys to beating their full-court press. The Sooners and Panthers will tip-off at 11:25 a.m. Thursday morning. Pictured above: Sampson jokes with his players during practice on Wednesday in Jacksonville. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson talks about his Sooners' first round matchup against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Tip-off is set for 11:25 a.m. Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.

On it being the time of the year for the seniors to take charge

Sampson: "I think this time of the year is about them. I plan on being at Oklahoma a long time, but they're coming down to the end.

"This time of year is about the seniors. You think about what Syracuse did. They get beat by 40 to DePaul and get embarrassed at home on senior night. They kinda sputtered down the end, but we weren't like that.

"Even though we didn't play great in some of the games we still won them."

On if he'll ask anything differently of the seniors before Thursday than he has so far this season

Sampson: "I want them to understand that this is their time, and it is. It's your seniors time. They've got a chance to extend their seasons as long as they want to play.

"I looked at our bracket. There's not a team on our side of the bracket that's not capable of beating us, but there's not team in that bracket that if we play and if we bring it, now we've got to bring it, that we can't play with.

"But I think this time of year comes down to your seniors. They have to drive the practices, they have to drive the preparation and they have to drive the personality of the team."

On if the pressure of beating UW-Milwaukee's press is more on the dribble or the pass

Sampson: Guards. I think we've done a great job (beating the press). The last team to bother us with a press actually was Nebraska. Every team that's pressed us since then we've done a good job of handling it.

"But then again, nobody in our league really pressed us. Some of them tried, but teams that press that don't know how or aren't committed to it, usually get out of it if you score on them one time.

"I watched their (UW-Milwaukee) game against Butler last night and some this morning, and that's the only tape we have them on right now. That's their deal. They press you, they're really quick."

On the matchup with UW-Milwaukee

Sampson: "I think the toughest matchup in our league is P.J. Tucker. He's just a hard matchup. Well, they've got a Tucker kid that's just like that in Joah Tucker.

"I like their team. They're quick, they're athletic and they can hurt you in a number of ways. But I like our team too."

On guard play being the key to the tournament

Sampson: "Our advantage on them will be getting the ball into the halfcourt and making it a halfcourt game. Their advantage on us is they're quicker than we are. They're faster. They're probably more athletic than we are all the way around.

"But it comes down to guard play. Our guards have to play good. This team's going to play us man-to-man, they're going to pick up full-court and pressure us for 94 feet. We've got to be able to handle that and get the ball into the forecourt.

"It seems like in the last month we've played against nothing but zones and junk defenses. You know, we're not set up for that.

"Look at our team, Terrell's a slasher. It's hard to slash against a zone. Michael Neal, you box and one him, OK now you're saying who else is going to score?

"We've got to attack UW-Milwaukee's pressure, get the ball inside to Kevin and Taj as much as we can and let our kids play with great freedom."

On OU's success being able to slow down fast-paced teams in the past

Sampson: When we attack Milwaukee's press we don't want to slow it down, we want to go attack it and score. We want to score the ball in transition, but at the same time I want shots at the rim, not turnovers.

"Presses will be as good as you play against it. We were ahead of Villanova at halftime because we didn't have much trouble with their press. The second half, we got a little fatigued and a little sloppy with our turnovers and our turnovers led to easy points for Villanova.

"I think that's going to be a key on Thursday. If we don't turn the ball over and can get the ball up against it and turn it into a halfcourt game, then we have a chance.

"I watched their tape against Alabama and I watched their tape against Boston College, and they beat both of those teams the same way. Those teams turned the ball over against them and Milwaukee will score just like that.

"That will be the key for us."

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