Oklahoma shakes off Coppin

November 27, 1994|By Bob Colon | Bob Colon,Special to The Sun

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma broke up a close game with a 16-4 run to open the second half on the way to an 85-74 win over Coppin State last night before 6,128 at Lloyd Noble Center.

It was the season opener for both teams and the Oklahoma coaching debut of Kelvin Sampson, who was hired to replace Billy Tubbs last spring.

Oklahoma held a 39-35 halftime lead but came out hot to start the second half, scoring the first 12 points to build a 51-35 lead.

That run was too much for Coppin State to overcome. Oklahoma still had an 85-64 lead with 2:20 left, but the visitors scored the game's last 10 points to make it closer at the end.

"OU really got it going the second half," said Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell. "Oklahoma picked its intensity up a notch, maybe two notches, and we never recovered. We had too many breakdowns on defense."

Ryan Minor led Oklahoma with 23 points. Dion Barnes scored 15 and Calvin Curry added 13. Minor had 15 of his points the first half. Curry had a pair of uncontested three-pointers in the middle of the Sooners' second-half surge.

"We had recognition problems," Mitchell said. "We didn't do a very good job on Minor. He's a first-team all-Big Eight player. And Curry is an excellent shooter and we left him wide-open on those three-pointers."

Oklahoma had a big advantage in field-goal shooting, hitting 59.7 percent on 37-for-62 shooting compared with Coppin State's 40 percent on 28-for-70.

Stephen Stewart led the Eagles with 21 points. Michael Thomas scored 14 and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.

Sidney Goodman, Coppin State's all-conference senior guard, had a tough night. He fouled out with five minutes left, having scored two points. Goodman averaged 14.3 points a game last season.

Oklahoma has a new philosophy under Sampson, whose style of play is a sharp contrast to the run-and-gun Sooners teams under Tubbs.

"They defended," Mitchell said, "And they did a good job running their offense."

Sampson was impressed with Coppin State.

"Coppin State is an outstanding team," he said. "They have gone two years undefeated in their conference. It would have been an entirely different game if we played them in their arena."

Coppin State is the NCAA's version of the road warriors, with the Eagles playing 12 of their first 13 games on the road.

"We feel like we can play with all these teams," Mitchell said. "It gives the players exposure, too."

This was Coppin State's fourth straight loss in as many games to Oklahoma.

The Eagles will get a good look at the Big Eight. They play consecutive road games against Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State early next month. Also on the Eagles' early schedule are LSU and Michigan State.

Coppin State's next game is Wednesday, when it travels to St. John's.

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