Tuesday, March 16, 1999
Oh my, O'Kelley the man
BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Wake Forest didn't lose Monday night because of Robert O'Kelley, that's for sure.
The sophomore point guard had a career-high 36 points in Xavier's 87-76 second-round NIT victory, hitting 13 of 22 shots and often just putting his head down and driving to the basket.
Those were the most points by an individual opponent this season. At the 16:50 mark of the second half, O'Kelleyhad scored 20 of his team's 39 points.
Xavier tried everyone on him. Lenny Brown. James Posey. Lloyd Price. Maurice McAfee. Even Gary Lumpkin watched as O'Kelley tossed in a three over him in the second half.
He was huffing and puffing, but he still got 36, Brown said.
He's probably one of the quickest players I've ever played in my career, and he's got good body control, plus he can shoot the three. He's very tough. It was hard for me to set up on him; he'd just put his head down and go right by me.
Said XU coach Skip Prosser: We did nothing to diminish his legend. We tried to guard him. He just took the ball to the basket fearlessly.
Xavier's only previous meeting with Princeton, its next opponent, was in 1989-90 at the Met Life Classic in San Francisco.
The Musketeers, led by Tyrone Hill, won 72-65.
That whole game, we made two jump shots, and one of those was a Hail Mary before the end of the first half, said Prosser, then a Xavier assistant coach.
It was like going to the dentist although I like going to my dentist; I don't want to insult him.
Princeton is noted for keeping the score down, running a flawless offense and its back-door cuts for layups. It has defeated Georgetown and North Carolina State in its first NIT games.
I can see our guys with those back doors looking like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, with their heads spinning around, Prosser said. Hoo, that's gonna be ... I don't know. But playing Princeton beats not playing them.
Brown nailed a three-pointer with 8:33 left in the first half to become Xavier's No.3 all-time scorer. He passed Anthony Hicks and trails only Byron Larkin and Tyrone Hill, the lone 2,000-point scorers in school history.
Brown (1,823) won't catch either of the Xavier Hall of Famers. He trails Hill by 180 points with a maximum of three games left.
The South Bend Tribune reported over the weekend that Xavier coach Skip Prosser was No.4 on Notre Dame's list to fill its coaching vacancy. But it indicates today that Prosser may be moving up.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Notre Dame is to meet with Utah's Rick Majerus, possibly today. It is presumed that if nothing works out, Notre Dame will move on to a short list of top candidates.