Even though the men sported a smaller field at the 2009 Great Alaska Shootout, there was no lack of surprises and excitement in the tournament.
The consistent leader for the Seawolves has been Brandon Walker. The junior guard drained an impressive 69 points over three games – 27 against WSU and 21 against both Nicholls State and Houston.
UAA’s game versus Houston ended up being the only game which Brandon Walker’s scoring was not game-high.
Instead, sophomore center Malcolm Campbell stepped up to the plate, tossing in a game-high 26 points against the Houston Cougars.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves and where everybody plays the best position,” said UAA Head Coach Rusty Osborne. “We’ve got a lot of versatility, but we’ve got to find out where everybody plays best.”
The second Thanksgiving-day game ended up being probably one of the most prolific in Shootout history. The Oklahoma Sooners and Houston Cougars combined for an incredible 193 points this game.
Oklahoma’s Steven Pledger knocked down an amazing 20 points in the first half alone, followed closely by Houston guard Kelvin Lewis, who hit 16 points in the half.
Houston’s Lewis along with Aubrey Coleman led the way in the second half, Coleman finishing with 27 points and 12 assists and Lewis ending the game with 28 points.
Those two’s performance along with solid play by the rest of their team put them on top as the final buzzer rang, knocking the Sooners down to 0-2 in the tournament and putting them in the fifth place game on Saturday, Nov. 28.
“Kind of game I love, wild and wooly, up and down, that’s our tempo,” said Houston Head Coach Tom Penders. “And for the first time in five years I think we have the athletes to play that way for a sustained period of time.”
The fifth place game between Oklahoma and Nicholls State would see no play from the Sooners’ All-American Willie Warren, but it wouldn’t matter, as the Sooners would step up to beat the Colonels. Outside shooting was the name of the game, with very little happening under the hoop. The first half was headlined by 53 total shots, 34 of those from beyond the three-point arc.
The Sooners would go on to claim fifth place with an 81-60 win over Nicholls State.
Houston would battle UAA for third place. UAA put up a fight, with Walker stepping up again, hitting 21 points, bumping his tournament average to 23 points per game. But the efforts of him and his teammates would not be enough to stifle the Cougars. Houston would claim third place over UAA with a 73-57 victory.
“We followed the game plan, we got better as a team,” said UAA Head Coach Rusty Osborne. “That’s all I can ask of my group.”
The grand finale of the Shootout ended up as a face off between Wazzu and San Diego, both undefeated in the tournament. After beating Oklahoma and Houston in their first two games, it seemed as though the Toreros would give the Cougars a run for their money. But it was not meant to be, as WSU would win in dominating fashion, 93-56.
Washington State standout Klay Thompson went on to break the single game scoring record with 43 points in the championship, overcoming a mark set in 1993 by Purdue’s Glen Robinson.
Thompson would also end up being named the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Great Alaska Shootout.