No. 17 Oklahoma 86, Colorado 67

Thursday, March 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma found a way to win without its best player - get everybody to chip in.

The 17th-ranked Sooners, adjusting to life without point guard J.R. Raymond, got strong performances from throughout the lineup Wednesday night in an 86-67 victory over Colorado.

Nolan Johnson led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Hollis Price scored 21. Aaron McGhee had 15 points and eight rebounds. Kelley Newton, now a starter because of Raymond's dismissal from the team, sank four 3-pointers.

Johnnie Gilbert came off the bench to grab seven rebounds in 18 minutes. Daryan Selvy had six points, also off the bench.

``We expected to play a very good Oklahoma basketball team,'' Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. ``I think Kelvin Sampson said it best _ the program wasn't going to fall apart because they lost one player.

``That's what good teams do. They step up and someone will take over the lead.''

The Sooners (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) struggled in taking a one-point halftime lead, then used a strong defensive effort to come up with several easy baskets in the second half.

Colorado (15-13, 5-10) shot only 37.5 percent in the second half and fell apart during a 6 1/2-minute stretch in which Oklahoma pushed a 39-38 lead to 66-45.

``Our defense fueled us tonight,'' Sampson said. ``Look at how many fastbreak opportunities we got. They all came from defensive rebounds, turnovers, or forced shots by them where we got it and attacked.

``That was fun to watch.''

Early in the second half, Newton made two 3-pointers and Price added another in an 11-2 run that gave Oklahoma a 50-40 lead.

After Stephane Pelle scored on a follow shot to make it 50-42, Johnson, McGhee and Price did all the scoring in the 16-3 spurt that made the final 10 minutes incidental.

``Our whole team had to accomplish something, and that's everybody be more aggressive and everybody do more than they were doing because we lost one of our best players,'' said Nolan Johnson, whose 23 points tied his career high. ``We all had to contribute on defense and on offense.''

Oklahoma came up with four turnovers during its surge and scored a basket or two free throws after each one. As the teams headed off for a timeout with the score 64-45, Sampson walked onto the floor and waved his arms, imploring the crowd to salute his team.

``I wanted our fans to appreciate our effort, and don't take for granted how good this team is,'' he said. ``Sometimes you take things for granted. These kids play hard, they work hard.''

The Sooners lost 68-60 at Maryland on Saturday without Raymond, who had been suspended a day earlier. On Sunday, Sampson announced that Raymond _ who had averaged 18 points in the previous 10 games _ had been dismissed.

``Our team's a little bit different now than it was a week ago, so you adjust to your strengths and go,'' Sampson said.

Colorado (15-13, 5-10) turned the ball over 22 times and was outrebounded 38-31 while losing its 19th straight in Norman.

``Teams like Oklahoma are preparing for the NCAA tournament, so we expected it to be a very physical game, which I think it was,'' Patton said. ``In the second half, they kicked it up to even a higher gear than the first half.''

Jamahl Mosley scored 15 points, and D.J. Harrison had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Buffaloes.