Oklahoma vs. UW-Milwaukee Pregame Notes

Taj Gray (above right) and the Sooners (20-8) will tip-off against Joah Tucker (above left) and the Panthers (21-8) at 11:25 a.m. Thursday morning in Jacksonville, Fla. See inside for notes on Thursday's matchup including a scouting report on the UW-Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Matchup
No. 6 Oklahoma (20-8) vs. No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee (21-8) -- 11:25 a.m. (CST) -- Jacksonville, Fla. -- Memorial Arena

The game will be televised regionally by CBS. Tim Brando, Mike Gminski and Stephen Bardo 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.

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Sooners and the Big Dance
Oklahoma is making their 24th trip to the NCAA Tournament and 11th in 12 seasons under head coach Kelvin Sampson. The Sooners are 32-23 overall in the NCAAs and 11-10 under Sampson. However, OU is 8-3 in their last three tournament appearances and have won three straight first round matchups.

The Matchup
Wisconsin-Milwaukee comes into their first round matchup against Oklahoma not only with experience, but with NCAA Tournament experience.

The Panthers, who earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon League Tournament, return four starters from last years squad that upset Alabama and Boston College en route to the Sweet 16, where they eventually lost to Illinois, 77-63.

However, two key figures from that team will not take the court Thursday against the Sooners — coach Bruce Pearl, who is now at Tennessee and leading scorer and Horizon League MVP Ed McCants. Nevertheless, the Panthers will start five seniors, four of which were key players on last year's Sweet 16 team.

Replacing Pearl is first-year coach Rob Jeter. Jeter spent stints as an assistant at Marquette and Wisconsin before taking over for Pearl this season.

Senior forward Joah Tucker and guard Boo Davis lead the way for the Panthers. Tucker, who averages 16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, scored 32 points in UW-Milwaukee's loss to Illinois last season in the NCAA tournament. Davis averages 16.2 points per game and is the Panthers' top 3-point threat at 38 percent (85-220). Tucker is also a 3-point threat, having hit 32 of his 106 attempts from behind the arc.

The Panthers average 74.2 points a game and give up 65.7 on defense. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is making just their third trip to the NCAAs in school history. However, this year marks their second straight trip and third in the last four years.

They are also just 1-2 against teams in this years NCAA field. They lost at Memphis (79-52), Wisconsin (74-68) and won at Montana (78-74).

UW-Milwaukee and the Sooners have never met in men's basketball. The Panthers are 0-8 against teams from the Big 12, with the most recent loss coming against Kansas, 73-62 last season in Kansas City.

Kelvin Sampson on the Panthers
"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."

"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.

"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."

"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."

The Experts on Wisconsin-Milwaukee

USAToday.com says...

"Wisconsin-Milwaukee will not be intimidated by anyone it faces in the NCAA tournament. The Panthers start five seniors, including four starters from last year's Sweet 16 team. That team upended Alabama and Boston College before falling to national runner-up Illinois. First-year coach Rob Jeter has NCAA tournament experience as an assistant at Wisconsin under Bo Ryan. Free throw shooting has been an Achilles' heel for the Panthers all season, with no player shooting better than 80%."

ESPN.com says...

"Last season's tournament Cinderella is back in the tournament after winning the Horizon League tournament and the automatic berth that comes with it. This season's Wisconsin-Milwaukee -- which is coached by former Wisconsin assistant Rob Jeter rather than Bruce Pearl -- doesn't appear to be quite as dangerous as last season's version. At 21-8, the Panthers are solid, but UWM didn't pull out any of its games against top 50 RPI opponents, losing to Memphis, Wisconsin and Missouri State. The Panthers' best victories are over Montana, Saint Louis and Butler. Forward Joah Tucker, who lit up Illinois for 32 points in last season's Sweet 16 game, leads Milwaukee with 16.4 points per game. Guard Boo Davis is next at 16.2 and forward Adrian Tigert averages 12.9 for a UWM team that also won the Horizon League regular-season title."

FoxSports.com says...

"The Panthers are not the explosive team they were last year when Pearl had them running and gunning and Ed McCants was firing the ball from all over the court and averaging 17.4 ppg. UWM is still a very solid team that plays strong fundamental basketball and harassing defense, but they don't have the firepower that they did a year ago. This team pulled off major upsets last year over Alabama and Boston College a year ago and won't be able to sneak up on anyone this year. The key is playing effectively on the offensive end -- the Panthers are shooting only 43.7 percent going into the tournament — because the defense and rebounding will be there."

Oklahoma Projected Starters:
F -- 21 --Taj Gray -- 6-9, 238, Sr. -- 14.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg
F -- 34 --Kevin Bookout -- 6-8, 270, Sr. -- 11.1 ppg, 6.8 rbg
G -- 3 -- Terrell Everett -- 6-4, 188, Sr. -- 12.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.7 apg
G -- 2 --Michael Neal -- 6-3, 191, Jr. -- 12.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg
G -- 20 -- Austin Johnson -- 6-3, 168, Fr. -- 3.3 ppg, 2.1, rpg, 1.8 apg

Off the Bench
F -- 24 --Nate Carter -- 6-6, 220, Jr. -- 6.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
G -- 15 --David Godbold -- 6-5, 217, So. -- 5.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
F -- 32 --Taylor Griffin -- 6-7, 232, Fr. -- 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
C -- 30 --Longar Longar -- 6-7, 232, Fr. -- 2.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg

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

UW-Milwaukee Projected Starters:
F -- 44 --Adrian Tigert -- 6-7, 240, Sr. -- 12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg
F -- 21 --Jason McCoy -- 6-9, 190, Sr. -- 4.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
F -- 13 --Joah Tucker -- 6-5, 220, Sr. -- 16.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg
G -- 2 -- Chris Hill -- 5-10, 160, Sr. -- 7.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg
G -- 24 --Boo Davis -- 6-3, 190, Sr. -- 16.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg,

Off the Bench
G -- 3 --Avery Smith -- 6-3, 175, So. -- 4.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg
F -- 1 --Kevin Massiah -- 6-5, 215, Jr. -- 2.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg
F -- 12 -- Allan Hanson -- 6-0, 170, So. -- 2.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg

G -- 4 -- Mark Pancratz -- 6-3, 185, Sr. -- 1.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg

C -- 50 -- Derrick Ford -- 6-10, 240, Sr. -- 2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg

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

UW-Milwaukee Photos

Jeter and Tucker...

McCoy and Tigert...

Davis and Hill...

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