Flames Fall In NCAA First Round To Oklahoma, 71-63
March 15, 2002
By JAIME ARON
DALLAS (AP) - Aaron McGhee and Hollis Price weren't about to let the Oklahoma Sooners stumble again in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
McGhee dominated inside with 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Price shook off two early injuries to score 17 points, carrying the second-seeded Sooners past Illinois-Chicago 71-63 Friday in the West Regional.
Oklahoma (28-5) has won nine straight games, four since coach Kelvin Sampson forced the team to watch clips from their 70-68 overtime loss to 13th-seeded Indiana State in the opening round of last year's NCAAs. Price said the video kept them focused last week when they won the Big 12 tournament.
McGhee put in a short shot for OU's first basket and used his 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame for many more easy shots, including some long jumpers.
McGhee scored 13 in each half and finished one point shy of his season high.
Illinois-Chicago (20-14), the winner of the Horizon League tournament, was making its second NCAA appearance but players were trying to take it in stride. Guard Jordan Kardos even jokingly said, "We're going to show those farmers how to play city ball."
Part of their strategy was showing the Sooners they couldn't be intimidated. When Oklahoma's pregame huddle at midcourt bumped into UIC's, Martell Bailey - the Flames' smallest player - shoved several Sooners and had to be shooed away by an official. Bailey smiled and laughed, as did his coach, Jimmy Collins.
UIC hung tough early, but Oklahoma broke from a 10-10 tie with an 18-3 run
and the Flames were never closer than six again. UIC went nearly nine minutes
without a field goal, prompting Collins to bury his head in his hands at the
start of one timeout.
Price, who badly injured his arm in the first-round loss last year, missed much of that spurt with injuries. First he hurt his left ankle and had to have it retaped. Then he strained his right hamstring and sat for several minutes with ice taped to it.
His 3-pointer to open the second half put OU up by 11, then another jumper that made it 46-38 got the pro-Sooners crowd on its feet.
The Flames never mounted a serious threat, partly because they couldn't find their touch from long range. The nation's sixth-best 3-point shooting team hit only 5-of-22 (23 percent).
Cedric Banks, whose jumper with 0.4 seconds left in overtime won the league tournament, shot only 3-of-14, including 1-of-5 on 3s. He, Bailey and Cory Little led UIC with 11 points each.
Oklahoma's Daryan Selvy scored 13 points, nine straight during the first-half spurt, and Ebi Ere had 10 points and seven rebounds. Quannas White had six assists.