The Rebs were their most-physical with Tim McCalister, who scored 32 points and has opened his senior season shooting like he intends to lead the nation in scoring. To stop his three-point goals, the Rebs once pushed T-Mac to the floor and rabbit-punched him into submission a second time. The second mugging was so flagrant, even the Pac-10 officials who were "letting them play" whistled a two-shot intentional.
"It was REAL rough in there," exclaimed Darryl "Choo" Kennedy, who had knots on his head to prove it. The war zone play may have had something to do with Kennedy's six-of-17 shooting although he had a night his shots just weren't falling.
"Another problem is we're still feeling our way along," said Tubbs, who has put together one of the toughest 20 schedules in the country. "People have to remember we're basically playing with three new guys."
Two of the newcomers are showing the strain of the adjustment. In time, juco Ricky Grace may be OU's best point guard in Tubbs' time.
He's not yet. And in time, juco Harvey Grant may be Tubbs' most versatile forward. He's not there yet there either, mainly because a broken hand that set him back in pre-season.
But Stacey King, the 6-10 center who missed most of his freshman year because of academics, is getting closer and closer.
"I thought this was Stacey's best game," said Tubbs. The lanky soph scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. At times, he was all OU had on the UNLV glass, where the Rebs are marvels of the second and third shot.
The chore for Tubbs now, as he hits a string of 10 straight tough-but-winnable games is to get Ron Roberts and David Johnson in the flow. Johnson, technically, is a returning starter but reported at 266 and is trying to "starve" himself into shape. Roberts came in a year ago and had so many juco press clippings he was given Wayman Tisdale's jersey number. Tubbs thinks the 6-7 leaper will yet show he deserves No. 23.
"We're going to be a good team, with a chance to be a very, very good team," promises Tubbs.
It wasn't possible for him to say that after the exhibition against the Soviet National team. The Sooners looked like anything but a top-10 team in that game. But practices have been a series of mini-UNLV games and this team is beginning to look as if it has the athletes to equal the '84-'85 Sooners, who won 31 games and went to the Final Eight.
"On a neutral floor I think we'd have beaten Vegas," said Tubbs.
But the game wasn't played on a neutral floor.
And come to think of it, neither will the return match on Jan. 17. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 288850