West final

March 23, 2002|By Christian Ewell

No. 2 Oklahoma (30-4) vs. No. 12 Missouri (24-11)

Site: Compaq Center, San Jose, Calif.

Time: 4:30 p.m. today

Conference records: Oklahoma finished second in the Big 12 Conference at 13-3; Missouri finished sixth in the Big 12 with a 9-7 record.

Coaches: Kelvin Sampson is 187-73 in eight seasons at Oklahoma and 362-221 in 19 seasons overall; Quin Snyder is 62-37 in three seasons at Missouri.

Oklahoma's lineup: G Quannas White (7.7 ppg, 161 assists to 67 turnovers), G Hollis Price (16.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 spg), G Ebi Ere (14.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg), F Aaron McGhee (15.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg), C Jabahri Brown (4.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Missouri's lineup: G Clarence Gilbert (17.1 ppg, 111 assists, 46 stls), G Ricky Paulding (11.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 43.3 pct 3FG), F Kareem Rush (19.9 rpg, 5.2 rpg) F Travon Bryant (6.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), C Arthur Johnson (12.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 69 blks).

Bench strength: The two Sooners reserves most likely to play are guard Jason Detrick (9.5 ppg) and forward Daryan Selvy (6.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg), whose defensive job on Luke Walton and 10 second-half points were important elements in the win over Arizona. Former starter Wesley Stokes has had a 2.7-to-1 assist-turnover ratio over the past eight games for Missouri and leads the team in assists. All-Big 12 wide receiver Justin Gage (4.1 rpg) has also contributed valuable minutes in his work on the boards.

Key matchup: Missouri's backcourt vs. Oklahoma's backcourt. Though Rush and Ere are labeled forwards, both teams basically operate with three guards. It will be the job of White, the Sooners' best defensive player, to limit Gilbert, who had 16 second-half points in the win over UCLA on Thursday. Paulding who has emerged as a quality player on offense, is also Missouri's best defender and will be in charge of guarding Price, who had 22 first-half points vs. Arizona.

What Oklahoma needs to do: The Sooners are in good shape if they can contest long-range shots from Rush and Gilbert and continue to rebound like they do. What Missouri needs to do: Containing McGhee is no guarantee of success, but it's a step in the right direction because it eliminates Oklahoma's primary frontcourt threat.

Bottom line: Missouri has had an excellent run, but look for superior bench production on both ends of the court to send the Sooners to their first Final Four appearance since 1988.

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