Sooners ready for second round of Bedlam

Sooners needs big games from senior guards Hollis Price (pictured left) and Ebi Ere. The two combined for only 12 points on 4-of-24 shooting in OSU's 48-46 over the Sooners on January 13 in Stillwater. Tip-off for Wednesday's at the Lloyd Noble Center game is set for 8pm.

NORMAN - February 19 has been circled on Oklahoma's calendar ever since January 13. Thirty-seven days have passed since Victor Williams fired a shot simultaneous to the sounding of the shot clock horn at Gallagher-Iba Arena with 3.6 seconds left to beat Oklahoma 48-46 in Stillwater.

That game is now considered a classic in OU-OSU lore, but tonight's game is just as big if not bigger for the conference title hopes of both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

"It's Bedlam, that's all you can say," said OU center Jabahri Brown. "That's a great Oklahoma State team, but we've got the same thing down here. It's going to be a dogfight."

Brown was part of a massive lineup shuffle over the past weekend in Lubbock, Texas. Gone from the starting lineup in Oklahoma's 63-58 victory over Texas Tech were Brown and Ebi Ere. In were Johnnie Gilbert and freshman De'Angelo Alexander. Whether that initial lineup returns remains to be seen, but it is definitely not a major factor in the minds of any player.

"It doesn't make any difference," said Johnnie Gilbert. "I'm going to contribute regardless."

Contribution. For OU to win tonight they must find a way for Ebi Ere to contribute. Generally speaking, when Ere plays well Oklahoma wins. When Ere forgets to get off the bus, the Sooners struggle.

This isn't a points issue, Ere can contribute on the boards while dishing the ball for timely assists. He has season highs of nine rebounds and seven assists; that shows that Ebi is not a one-trick pony. For the Sooners to win, Ere must come to play and bring his well-rounded game to the foreground.

"Ebi hasn't done what he's capable of doing," said Hollis Price. "Hopefully he can come back tonight. We know he is going to come back, and when he does that will make us a much better team."

OU knows a few things about its containment assignments on defense to ensure victory. Victor Williams, Tony Allen, Melvin Sanders and Ivan McFarlin all average at least 11 points a game and all must be contained, but it is the unknown star waiting to be born that could hurt Oklahoma the most.

Cheyne Gadsen, a role player at best, went 6-of-7 from the field for 14 points in Norman last year. If OSU has another player step up like Gadsen did last year, it will spell big trouble for Oklahoma.

The first meeting between OU and OSU featured some of the most ferocious and tenacious defensive play ever seen. Still, amongst that defensive chaos began a coming out party of sorts.

Freshman Kevin Bookout took that national stage and churned out a 14-point, 11-rebound effort, both of which were career highs at the time. He has since gone on to bigger and better point production, and a larger focus on him by Cowboy coach Eddie Sutton might free things up on the perimeter for Ere and Price, who were held to a combined 12 points on 4-of-24 shooting the last time these teams met.

Predictions on games such as these are about as easy as forecasting the weather here in the Sooner State. I will say this, the defense will be relentless, the scoring will not be high and each player will leave all he's got on the floor. I can only hope that the best team will win.

Projected Starters
F 23 Ivan McFarlin (6-7, 221, Jr.) 10.9 7.2
F 40 Andre Williams (6-8, 216, Sr.) 4.2 5.7
G 5 Victor Williams (5-10, 192, Sr.) 15.4 2.2
G 24 Tony Allen (6-4, 205, Jr.) 15.3 5.2
G 34 Melvin Sanders (6-5, 198, Sr.) 13.6 4.8

F 32 Johnnie Gilbert (6-8, 230, So.) 3.8 5.1
F 34 Kevin Bookout (6-8, 260, Fr.) 9.7 5.7
G 4 Quannas White (6-1, 190, Sr.) 8.4 3.8
G 10 Hollis Price (6-1, 170, Sr.) 19.2 2.7
G 15 D. Alexander (6-4, 215, Fr.) 6.0 3.0

The Series
Oklahoma leads the overall series with Oklahoma State, 117-84, and is 71-25 in games in Norman. Kelvin Sampson is 8-11 against the Cowboys as OU's head coach and is 6-2 at Lloyd Noble Center.

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