Top-scoring Oklahoma looks to shoot through town, Terps Averaging 97.1, Sooners aim to rattle Arena rims

January 19, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

Billy Tubbs has this simple philosophy when it comes to coaching his Oklahoma basketball team: score more points than the opposition, the larger margin of victory the better.

"The object in coaching is to not have your team look bad," Tubbs said yesterday. "The object is to make the other team look bad."

Tubbs will bring his trash-talkin', three-point shootin', blowout-seekin' -- and, more significantly, 12th-ranked -- Sooners into the Baltimore Arena tonight at 8 for a game against the University of Maryland.

It's a potential mismatch for the 8-5 Terrapins, who have had problems stopping each of their first four Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. Oklahoma (12-3) leads the country in scoring at 97.1 points a game.

"Any time you play a team like Oklahoma, the way they press and shoot threes, they can blow you out," said Maryland guard Kevin McLinton. "But if they're shooting bad, they can look bad."

Even Tubbs isn't sure which Oklahoma team will show up tonight.

Will it be the one that ruined its chances with a 20-point deficit early in the second half against Duke, or the one that forced the then top-ranked Blue Devils into overtime before losing? Will it be the one that led now top-ranked Kansas by nine at halftime, or the one that lost by 11?

"Somewhere in between," Tubbs said before practice yesterday at the Arena. "I think defensively at times we're better than we've been the past few years. When our defense goes soft, our offense goes soft. But when we're playing really good defense, we're capable of beating anybody in the country."

While they haven't put up the kinds of numbers they were scoring as recently as 1989-90 (101.3), the Sooners are still capable of giving official scorers brain-lock.

Take the 115 points Oklahoma scored against Towson State earlier this year, the first of eight games of 100 points or more. "It's like playing Pac-Man," said Tigers coach Terry Truax, whose team lost by 42 in December. "They just gobble you up."

Said Terps coach Gary Williams: "They depend on their defense to break things loose for their offense. And they really look for their threes."

Do they ever. The Sooners have made nearly twice as many threes as the Terps (95-50), and senior guard Terry Evans has launched nearly as many (112) as Maryland's entire starting lineup (119). All five starters average in double figures, led by junior forward Jeff Webster (18.1).

Said senior center Bryan Sallier: "Just about everybody on this team can score. That's why everybody came here."

They also came to play for Tubbs. In his 13 years in Norman, Okla., and 21 years in college coaching, Tubbs has built a reputation as a guy who doesn't mind speaking his mind, even if it means yanking a foot from his mouth afterward.

This is a guy who once tried to quiet an angry home crowd by grabbing a courtside mike and telling them, "Regardless of how terrible the officiating is, please don't throw anything on the court."

This is a guy who after one of his many blowout victories said, "Humiliating somebody -- I guess when you get right down to it, that's your job."

This is a guy who invited outgoing Nevada-Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian to his cable TV show, and did a "Wayne's World" take-off.

Tubbs, whose Oklahoma teams have won 310 games and played in nine of the past 10 NCAA tournaments, is a little embarrassed by the reputation he has for, well, embarrassing the opposition.

"I think it's gotten blown a little out of proportion," he said. "We don't go in trying to embarrass anybody. Our intention is to go in and play 40 minutes to our best potential. But we're capable of putting up big numbers in a short period of time."

Tonight, Maryland could find out how big.

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