Sunday, March 17, 2002

Xavier falls to Oklahoma


From 49-49 Sooners took over

By Neil Schmidt nschmidt@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Romain Sato led Xavier with 28 points.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        DALLAS — The placard in each American Airlines Center locker room read, “The road to the Final Four begins here.” That Xavier didn't finish that journey doesn't attest to the miles in its rearview mirror.

        The Musketeers fell 78-65 Sunday to third-ranked Oklahoma in an NCAA Tournament second-round game. For XU, a shorthanded team with a new coach that wound up dominating its conference and winning the second-most games in school history, it was hard to find fault in this finish.

        “We overachieved this year,” junior center David West said. “We did a lot more than people thought we would.”

        Yet the Musketeers (26-6) set a goal of reaching the Sweet 16, which they hadn't done in 12 seasons, and so they felt a lingering sting Sunday night.

        “We played hard and had nothing to be ashamed of,” freshman forward Anthony Coleman said. “But we could have beat them. I still think we should have won.”

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Lionel Chalmers drives.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Oklahoma (29-4), seeded second in the West Region, meets third-seeded Arizona (24-9) in a regional semifinal Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

        XU managed to tie the game four times in the first nine minutes of the second half but could never take the lead. Tied 49-49 with 11:15 left to play, the Sooners went on a 9-0 run over two minutes to establish control, and XU was never again closer than nine points.

        XU did the things it was supposed to, winning the rebounding battle (38-31) and holding OU's offense relatively in check (44.6 percent shooting). It still wasn't enough.

        “We didn't get beat by a good basketball team; we got beat by a great basketball team,” XU coach Thad Matta said. “They were clicking on all cylinders at all the right times.”

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Jason Williams shoots in traffic.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        From the 49-49 tie, XU made just four of its final 15 shots and committed five turnovers.

        “Our defense was outstanding,” OU coach Kelvin Sampson said. “When they came back and tied us, we had tenacity.”

        Said Matta: “At 49-49, I liked where we were at that point. But they made some great plays, like great players do, and it took the wind out of us. They didn't quit playing defense.”

        The Sooners won with fundamentals. They made only six turnovers, just two of them after halftime, and made 24-of-28 free throws (85.7 percent).

        “They take care of the ball,” XU's Romain Sato said. “They run their plays. They're a good basketball team.”

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Xavier coach Thad Matta and an assistant behind him send instructions.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        XU shot 40.4 percent. It got 28 points from Sato and 18 from West, but no third option emerged.

        Lionel Chalmers shot 1-for-12. Two other starters, Kevin Frey and Dave Young, attempted just one shot apiece. No one else attempted more than two shots.

        “I don't think I was there,” Chalmers said. “It happens. Sometimes the shots don't fall.”

        OU's star was forward Aaron McGhee, a former UB Bearcat who scored 25 points and helped defend against West.

        “I take each game as a personal challenge,” said McGhee, who left UC after his freshman season. “I guess since our team won the game, I was the better player.”

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Oklahoma's Aaron McGhee muscles around David West.
(AP photo)
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        OU's Ebi Ere added 20 points and Hollis Price 12.

        “It became pretty obvious to us that they were trying to get the ball in to McGhee in as many places as they could,” Matta said. “With all that said, they had four other guys out there making plays as well when they couldn't get it to him.”

        The Musketeers showered praise on the Sooners. Despite playing just seven players, OU appeared fresher down the stretch, and it rode the wave of a crowd laden with its fans.

        “We played as hard as we could,” West said. “But we didn't have the horses they had down the stretch.”

        The Sooners spoke of XU as playing a physical style they had to match.

        “They're probably as physical as any team in the Big 12,” McGhee said.

        OU took a 7-0 lead in the game's first two minutes, but Sato kept XU from being blown out early. He scored 16 points in the first 8 1/2 minutes; his teammates had totaled two.

        XU played the last eight minutes of the first half with three subs — freshman Jaison Williams, Coleman and senior Alvin Brown — and outscored the Sooners by four points in that span.
Complete NCAA coverage
SULLIVAN: Appreciation may come later
West will return, teammates say
Sato makes big impression
One-sided crowd helps Oklahoma


XAVIER (65)
 
                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
K Frey              27   1-1   0-1   1-4   1   3    2
D Young             14   0-1   2-2   2-4   0   2    2
D West              40  7-14   3-6   3-8   3   2   18
L Chalmers          32  1-12   4-4   2-5   2   4    6
R Sato              40  9-17   5-8   3-8   3   4   28
J Williams           8   1-2   0-0   0-0   0   0    3
A Coleman           10   1-2   0-0   1-3   0   0    2
A Brown             20   1-2   1-2   1-1   2   3    4
K Jackson            9   0-1   0-0   0-1   0   1    0


_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 21-52 15-23 13-34  11  19   65
_____________________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.404, FT-.652. 3-Point Goals:
8-19, .421 (D West 1-3, L Chalmers 0-3, R 
Sato 5-10, J Williams 1-1, A Coleman 0-1, A 
Brown 1-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 
6 (D West 5, R Sato). Turnovers: 17 (A Brown 
3, L Chalmers 3, R Sato 3, D West 3, D Young 
2, J Williams 2, K Frey). Steals: 3 (J 
Williams 2, L Chalmers).


OKLAHOMA (78)


                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
E Ere               34  7-14   4-4   1-7   0   1   20
A Mcghee            33  8-16   8-9   2-5   1   3   25
J Brown             21   2-3   0-0   0-2   1   4    4
Q White             36   2-5   4-5   1-3   6   2    9
H Price             36  4-10   4-4   1-1   3   2   12
J Detrick           16   0-3   3-4   0-3   1   3    3
D Selvy             24   2-5   1-2   5-9   0   4    5


_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 25-56 24-28 10-30  12  19   78
_____________________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.446, FT-.857. 3-Point Goals:
4-12, .333 (E Ere 2-5, A Mcghee 1-3, Q White 
1-1, H Price 0-1, J Detrick 0-2). Team 
Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 3 (J Brown 2, D 
Selvy). Turnovers: 6 (H Price 2, Q White 2, A
Mcghee, E Ere). Steals: 9 (H Price 3, D Selvy
2, A Mcghee, E Ere, Q White, J Brown).


-----------------------------------
XAVIER               36  29   -  65
OKLAHOMA             40  38   -  78
----------------------------------- 


Technical fouls: None. A: 19,951.


Xavier Stories
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SULLIVAN: Appreciation may come later
West will return, teammates say
Sato makes big impression
One-sided crowd helps Oklahoma

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