On This Day in OU Hoops History: Carmelo, 'Cuse Take Down Sooners

John. E. Hoover

Oklahoma’s 2020 college basketball season came to an unceremonious and premature end when the NCAA declared this year’s tournament would not be played due to measures intended to stop the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Sooners just might have assembled the kind of team — a Big Three scoring triumvirate and a collection of young, athletic talent — that could have possibly made a good postseason run.

This team’s resume will always be incomplete.

Instead of using three weeks this spring to witness OU basketball history, SI Sooners will relive it. From now until April 4 — the date that was supposed to be this year’s Final Four semifinals — we’ll look back on Oklahoma’s most memorable NCAA Tournament games from that date in history.

MARCH 30, 2003

(3) Syracuse 63, (1) OU 47

Freshman Carmelo Anthony and Jim Boeheim’s matchup zone was too much for top-seeded Oklahoma.

Syracuse continued slaying Big 12 giants, this time taking down the Sooners 63-47 in Albany, New York.

Anthony — who would jump to the NBA after one unforgettable season — had 20 points and 10 rebounds, including 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a statement first half against the OU.

More damaging was the Orange’s 2-3 matchup zone. Oklahoma (25-7) committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

“We haven't faced anything like this,” said OU’s Hollis Price, the Big 12 player of the year. “They did good jobs of extending to me and Quannas (White) and Ebi (Ere). We didn’t attack the zone the way we should have. We worked on it in practice, but we didn’t do it in the game.”

Syracuse went on a 14-1 run late in the first half, keyed by six points from Anthony, to take a 30-18 with 1:40 to go before halftime.

“Offensively, Carmelo got us off to a good start for a change and that was nice,” Boeheim said.

The Sooners compounded that with a cold start to the second half. Syracuse scored the first eight points after halftime, including a 3-point bomb from freshman Gerry McNamara with 15:35 left to open a 38-20 advantage. OU never got within single digits again as Price shot 3-of-17 and White was 1-of-8. The New Orleans duo was trying to get back to their second straight Final Four, this time in their hometown. Instead, they combined for nine turnovers.

“It’s tough to come so far and so close,’ White said. “We were 40 minutes away from getting back home.”

Syracuse, which defeated Oklahoma State in the second round, went on to a Final Four victory over top-seed Texas and a national championship victory over Kansas — four NCAA Tournament wins over Big 12 teams.

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Men's Basketball