Little man helps Sooners slip past Boilermakers, 47-45

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2003

The Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. - The smallest guy on the court came up big when it mattered most.

Freshman Drew Lavender scored 12 points in the second half, including a leaning shot in the lane with 1.1 seconds to play, and No. 11 Oklahoma beat No. 16 Purdue 47-45 Thursday night.

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The 5-foot-7 Lavender finished with 14 points and Kevin Bookout added 12 as the Sooners (6-0) beat their second straight Top 20 opponent in as many games. Oklahoma was coming off an 80-77 overtime win over then-No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday.

''One thing about Drew is that he's courageous,'' Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. ''He's still feeling his way around out there. His ceiling is really high.''

The Sooners relied on their steady, quick-footed freshman down the stretch to remain one of the nation's most unlikely undefeated teams: Oklahoma has two freshmen and two sophomores in its starting lineup.

Oklahoma may have found a lineup to counter the loss of three seniors - All-America Hollis Price, Quannas White and Ebi Ere - who led the Sooners to the last three Big 12 tournament titles and within one game of a second straight Final Four last season.

In six games, the Sooners have had five different leading scorers.

''We're a work in progress,'' said Sampson, shaking his head. ''Games like this will help us grow and get better. To be 6-0 with this group … I didn't think we'd be 6-0.''

Purdue (6-1) nearly pulled out the win over Oklahoma despite shooting 30 percent from the field.

Chris Booker hit two free throws with 3:30 left to give Purdue its first lead of the second half, 42-41.

That's when Lavender took over - with permission from his coach.

Bookout, a sophomore, made it 45-44 when he scored the go-ahead basket on Lavender's tremendous wraparound pass from the baseline.

Purdue's David Teague hit a free throw with 11 seconds remaining to tie the game at 45, setting the stage for Lavender's off-balance shot.

Oklahoma cleared out the right side of the floor for Lavender, who drove into the lane and lofted the game-winning basket just over the fingertips of Brandon McKnight.

Booker led Purdue with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Kenneth Lowe, who entered the game as the Boilermakers' leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, was held to eight on 2-of-9 shooting.

The Boilermakers were off to their best start since 1993-94, when they went 14-0.

No. 14 Illinois 85, Maryland-Eastern Shore 43

Roger Powell scored 19 points to lead the Illini (5-2) to their 20th straight win at home. Luther Head added 16 points for Illinois, which rebounded from Tuesday's 19-point loss to Providence in the Jimmy V Classic.

The Illini scored the game's first 16 points and led 46-19 at halftime.

Tee Trotter scored 12 points for the Hawks (0-2), who missed their first 12 shots and finally scored 7:07 into the game.