Defense carries Sooners past Colorado

Oklahoma guard Ebi Ere shoots as Colorado forward Lamar Harris defends in the second half Saturday in Norman. Ere led all scorers with 20 points and Oklahoma's stingy defense did the rest as the Sooners rolled over Colorado 69-54

NORMAN -- Two things have been prevalent in OU basketball since Kelvin Sampson's first Oklahoma team took the floor in the fall of 1994: suffocating defense and timely outside shooting. Both of those factors were on display in OU's 69-54 victory over Colorado at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday.

Ebi Ere led OU with 20 points, and Hollis Price chimed in for 19 to lead the offense, but the story of the day was Oklahoma's relentless defensive pressure. Colorado shot 25 percent (7-for-28) in the first half and only marginally improved in the second, wrapping up the final stanza by going 36.4 percent (12-for-33). For the game, the Buffaloes shot 31.1 percent. That's a whole lot clanking going on.

It could have been worse for coach Ricardo Patton's team. They finished with 54 points on the day, but they only had half of that with 10:49 left to play. The Buffs final 27 points came after Sampson had emptied his bench.

"Oklahoma's just one of those teams, they really get after you defensively," said Patton. "They did a great job of making our post guys catch it off the block and then they did a good job of coming hard with the double team."

Oklahoma didn't shoot the lights out either. As a team, the Sooners only shot 34.9 percent for the game, but the key difference came from behind the arc. OU chimed in with a respectable 42.1 percent (8-for-19) while the Buffs couldn't hit sand in the desert. Give Oklahoma some credit, their solid perimeter defense had a hand in Colorado's abysmal 2-of-13 (15 percent) performance from downtown on the afternoon.

Oklahoma's perimeter "D" was very good, but everyone in the building should have tipped their cap to the Oklahoma frontcourt as they left today. Jabahri Brown, Kevin Bookout, Johnnie Gilbert and Jozsef Szendrei were the stars today. As a unit, they combined for 20 points, 28 rebounds and three blocks. The rebounds are the most impressive statistic of all when you take into consideration that Colorado had averaged 10 more rebounds a game this year than their opponents. OU out-rebounded the Buffs 52-41. That statistic cannot be overlooked as Big 12 conference play rolls on.

"Our post guys were really good today," said Sampson. "In baseball you have a closer who comes in every game. We don't have one guy who we can say is our horse. Our big guys all have a role to play. Today they all did a good job of that."

A quick look at the score sheet for the Buffaloes reveals just how bad a day this was.

Four players came into the game averaging double figures. Only one, Michel Morandais, made it to double digits on the stat sheet. He finished with 18. David Harrison, Colorado's seven-foot man in the middle was continually harassed all afternoon. His final numbers, seven points and six rebounds, pale in comparison to the 16 points and nine rebounds that he averaged in 13 games leading up to this afternoon. Stephan Pelle, another double-double man for the Buffs, finished the day with three points and four rebounds; well below is norm for the year of 11 points and 9.7 boards a game.

This was Oklahoma's 31st consecutive win at home. The last Sooner loss at Lloyd Noble was against Kansas in February of 2001. The Buffaloes haven't beaten OU in Norman since Reagan was in the White House. Today's win was the 20th in a row over Colorado at the LNC.

Oklahoma's next game will be Monday night in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. It will take a defensive clinic such as this one for OU to walk away from Stillwater with their first win at Gallagher-Iba since 2000.

BMart's Player of the Game
This award goes to the Sooner Frontcourt. Jabahri Brown, Johnnie Gilbert, Kevin Bookout and Jozsef Szendrei all get game balls for their performance today. Their combined line of 20 points, 28 rebounds and three blocks coupled with the numerous other shots that they altered will be a large stepping stone towards greatness later on in the year. The play of this unit will tell the tale of Oklahoma's game against OSU on Monday night.

BMart's Play of the Game
Hollis Price's penetration and dish to Jozsef Szendrei with five minutes to go in the first half. Price drove along the baseline and forced two Buffaloes into the air. While airborne himself, Price fired a pass to a slashing Szendrei for an easy bucket. The Buffs had to call a timeout, and the Sooners left the court to a standing ovation.

BMart's Heartfelt Plea
If you're a Sooner fan, and if you are able, please find a way to go to Stillwater on Monday. The Sooners in attendance last year drove an Aggie sitting behind me to the point of madness. I want that same guy to blow a gasket this year. If you can make it there, be there. You just might see a win.

OU-Colorado Box Score

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