Sooners face another tough road challenge

Sampson says his Sooners need to fire on all cylinders against Texas Tech Saturday in Lubbock. OU guard Hollis Price (pictured left) scored a game-high 23 points, including a buzzer beater at the end of regulation to push the game into overtime against the Red Raiders on Jan. 21. OU beat Tech 69-64.

When the Oklahoma Sooners roll into the west Texas trading post of Lubbock they will have to overcome two elements to return to Norman with a much-needed conference road win: the motion offense and the revenge factor.

The latter point is probably one that Tech head coach Bobby Knight grilled into his team's head all week. For those that don't remember, it was less than a month ago when Tech held a 60-58 advantage in Norman with 4.5 seconds to play before Hollis Price dropped his name into the national player of the year race by going coast-to-coast and sinking a running jumper to force overtime. Oklahoma won that game 69-64, and that fact will not be lost on the Red Raiders or their fans at the United Spirit Arena on Saturday.

The former point, the motion offense, was obvious in last year's game in Lubbock. Knight's brigade came out and blitzed the Final Four bound Sooners 92-79 before a nationwide audience.

"It's not the offense as much as it is the players," said OU coach Kelvin Sampson. "Coach Knight does a great job of putting his kids at the right spots. Kasib Powell is good. Andre Emmett is good. And their size allows them to finish inside and out. Texas Tech has good interchangeable parts. They're the kind of team that can explode offensively because everybody's pretty good. We've got to defend better and we've got to rebound better."

While many in the Sooner nation look upon Monday's loss to Texas as a sign of troubles on the offensive end, Sampson sees his squad improving by leaps and bounds. The improvement of Kevin Bookout and De'Angelo Alexander is obvious even to those with a meager understanding of the game.

Hollis Price is playing as well as anybody in the country, and Quannas White continues to provide steady point guard play. If there is one thing that Sampson would like to see against Tech is offensive production from Ebi Ere and Jabahri Brown.

"When you go on the road, if you've got five bullets in your chamber then you need to be firing all of them," Sampson said. "One of the things that was encouraging to me (against Texas) was that we only had two bullets that weren't firing and yet it's a one-point game with a minute to go."

Price will again be looked upon to lead the way. Since Knight was named head coach in Lubbock, Price has averaged 25.7 points against the Red Raiders. Tech will try to make him work as hard as he possibly can for open looks. Having Ere step off the bus and play would also be a nice bonus for the Sooners.

The last time Tech took the court, they left Ames with an 88-73 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones. It was an impressive road victory; one in which Andre Emmett, Will Chavis and Kasib Powell combined to score 66 points and play 115 minutes. The Red Raiders are 14-6 on the season and 4-5 in the conference. This will be one of their biggest crowds of the year and definitely an important game in terms of a possible NCAA Tournament berth.

"We know Texas Tech is going to be a tough ballgame and they are going to have a great environment," Sampson said. Coach Knight will have his team ready to play, but so will we."

Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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