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Oklahoma basketball: Add Je'lon Hornbeak to the list of Sooners who wear a mouth guard

Wearing a mouth guard isn't uncommon in college basketball, though it isn't mandatory. After chipping two teeth in the Sooners' win over Baylor on Saturday, Je'lon Hornbeak will likely be taking his grandmother's advice to wear one.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: February 24, 2013

/articleid/3758790/1/pictures/1962533">Photo - Oklahoma Sooners' Je'lon Hornbeak (5) is folded by Baylor Bears' Taurean Prince (35) going for loose ball as the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) men play the Baylor University Bears (BU) in NCAA, college basketball at The Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013  in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma Sooners' Je'lon Hornbeak (5) is folded by Baylor Bears' Taurean Prince (35) going for loose ball as the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) men play the Baylor University Bears (BU) in NCAA, college basketball at The Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

A basketball player and his mouth guard are like a baby with a teething ring. It's more of a chew toy.

Take Thunder star Kevin Durant. Oklahoma City fans know their star wears a mouth guard because they see it hanging from his mouth and he's constantly chewing on it — same with Clippers star and former Sooner great Blake Griffin.

So why do some of the best players in the professional game today wear them?

Brown isn't quite sure, but believes a lot of it has to do with how a mouth guard can protect from a concussion. That's why, he said, you see boxers wearing them. Brown actually told Griffin after a nasty concussion in college that he needed to wear a mouth guard, and he's noticed Griffin has worn one ever since.

Why don't college players wear them?

“They don't really like them,” Brown said. “They make it problematic for talking on defense.”

And mouth guards also make it harder to breathe through.

It's also the same reason not all players wear eye goggles. Nobody thinks they need it until they get their eye gouged.

“Hindsight really is 20/20,” Brown said.

Now that's the case for Hornbeak. The freshman guard said he thinks it will be best to wear a mouthpiece from here on out.

“I'm trying to put some fangs on them,” Hornbeak said, “Or maybe a little ‘OU' ...”

Whatever gets him to wear it.


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