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COLLEGE BASKETBALL : Price Is Just Right for Oklahoma Offense

December 20, 1990|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI

Looking for an early favorite in the all-important Transfer of the Year Award? We humbly submit the name of Brent Price.

For starters, think where Oklahoma would be without the point guard extraordinaire. Or where South Carolina might be with him.

Ranked 11th, Oklahoma depends on Price to run its score-at-will offense and to bomb away from the three-point line. He is averaging 25 points a game and has made 45% (36 of 80) of his three-point shots.

Against Loyola Marymount last Saturday, Price scored 56 points, had nine assists, nine steals and two blocked shots as the Sooners destroyed the Lions, 172-112. But before dismissing Price's performance as Loyola-enhanced, remember this:

--Of those 56 points, 33 of them came from the three-point line or beyond. More revealing was Price's accuracy: he needed only 19 attempts to make 11.

--His point total was the second highest in Big Eight history and he became one of five conference players to score more than 50 points in a game.

--The performance set three Big Eight Conference records and tied another.

Of course, this is basically what South Carolina Coach George Felton promised when Price signed with the Gamecocks in 1987. A high school blue-chipper, Price was told he would be given similar on-court control of the South Carolina offense.

One problem: Felton's offense wasn't designed to score as many points as Oklahoma's hurry-up scheme. Too bad because the 16th-ranked Gamecocks could probably use Price's perimeter shooting skills.

"It was a tough situation for him to get up and leave," said Dennis Price, Brent's father and the coach at NAIA member Phillips University in Enid, Okla. "But it got to the point that he wasn't really enjoying basketball."

It isn't uncommon for Brent, whose brother Mark plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers (he is sidelined because of an injury), to spend hours shooting jump shots inside an empty gym. He won't stop until he makes at least 10 three-pointers in a row. His record is 19 in a row.

"He doesn't let too many days go by without shooting the basketball," said his father, a former OU player and assistant.

Oklahoma plays Duke Saturday at OU's Noble Center, where the Sooners are co-owners of the nation's longest home winning streak--51. Price could find himself matched with Duke guard Bobby Hurley. Hurley was selected to the USA's Goodwill Games roster. Price wasn't.

The U.S. coach? Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

We wonder . . .

If Chris Jackson regrets his decision to leave Louisiana State and his protector, Coach Dale Brown?

If the troops in Saudi Arabia are waiting eagerly for those basketball highlights promised by the American South Conference?

If we'd take UCLA's Shon Tarver or USC's Harold Miner in a one-on-one game? Tarver might be a better overall player, but Miner would find a way to get his shots--and make them. We'll take Miner.

If Loyola Marymount or the Denver Nuggets will abandon the shoot-until-you-drop offense first? Loyola is giving up 130.1 points a game.

If Stanford might make a surprise run at the Pac-10 title this season? The Cardinal have Adam Keefe, a great coach in Mike Montgomery and usually cause Arizona and UCLA problems.

Don't be surprised if you see Murray State soon gain a top 25 ranking.

The Racers (8-2) returned four starters, including Popeye Jones, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound center who weighed as much as 309 pounds two seasons ago. Jones couldn't play more than 10 minutes at a time as a freshman. Now you can't get him out of the lineup.

After doctors placed him on a supervised diet, Jones lost 59 pounds in 1989. He went from a bench-sitter to the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year. His scoring average increased from 5.8 as a freshman to 19.5 as a sophomore. His rebounding improved from 4.6 to 11.2. This season, he's averaging 22.1 points and 13.6 rebounds after 10 games. He had a career-high 21 rebounds against Prairie View Monday night.

About the nickname. When his mother brought him home from the hospital, she made the mistake of asking one of her children for a first name. A son, who was watching a Popeye episode at the time, blurted out the cartoon character's name. It stuck, despite Jones' given name--Ronald Jerome.

The four other Big Eight players who scored 50 points or more in a game?

Wilt Chamberlain of Kansas (of course), Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma, Lafester Rhodes of Iowa State and Bud Stallworth of Kansas.

Tisdale broke the 50-point mark three times with a high of 61, Chamberlain once.

Despite its slow start, reports of Georgia Tech's death are greatly exaggerated.

Sure, the Yellow Jackets are a disappointing 4-3, but remember they lost two-thirds of their Lethal Weapon III combination--forward Dennis Scott and guard Brian Oliver. Also gone is starting center Johnny McNeil, as well as Karl Brown, the first guard off the bench.

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