Sooners Squash Spartans' Comeback

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 03, 2003

Jan 4, 2003

AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY - In a matchup of two rugged defensive teams, No. 10 Oklahoma made just a few more plays than 14th-ranked Michigan State.

Quannas White forced a turnover in the closing seconds, spoiling the Spartans' chance at a tying or winning basket, as Oklahoma won 60-58 in the All-College Classic on Saturday night.

Ebi Ere scored 21 points and Hollis Price had 19 for the Sooners (8-2), who were coming off a 54-45 loss to No. 8 Mississippi State a week earlier.

"You're not going to come out here and look pretty against Michigan State," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Michigan State is just a hard team to score against."

Chris Hill and Maurice Ager scored 12 points each for Michigan State (8-3). The Spartans struggled to get the ball to Hill on their final possession, and White was able to knock it away as the final seconds ticked off.

"It was two tough teams coming off losses," Price said. "We expected a dogfight, and that's what happened tonight."

Both teams wound up going 21-for-47 from the field. Michigan State outrebounded the Sooners 34-28 but committed four more turnovers, and Oklahoma outscored the Spartans 15-11 from the foul line.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said sloppy ballhandling and inconsistent free throw shooting doomed his team.

"We probably gave up 12 or 13 points because of missed free throws and turnovers," he said. "That's hard to overcome on the road against a good team."

Sampson said he wanted his guards to slash to the basket and try to get to the free throw line. Price did that, going 10-of-11 from the line. He was 8-of-9 in the first half when Oklahoma twice built a seven-point lead.

In the second half, White hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run that gave Oklahoma a 50-45 lead with 8:48 remaining. Later, a block by Jabahri Brown - he wound up with five - led to a fastbreak dunk by Ere that pushed the lead to 58-50 at the 4:24 mark.

But Michigan State hung in there. A basket by Aloysius Anagonye and a three-point play by Hill got the Spartans within 58-55 with 2:44 left. White then made one free throw after Brown tipped a Michigan State pass away, resulting in a steal.

With the score 59-55, Johnnie Gilbert blocked a jumper by Hill on the wing, then rebounded a miss by Kelvin Torbert and was fouled with 28.8 remaining. Gilbert missed the front of the 1-and-1, and Ager got the Spartans within a point with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 17.9 seconds left.

White was fouled with 14.1 seconds to play. He made the first free throw but missed the second, and Michigan State rebounded.

Working without timeouts, the Spartans got the ball to Alan Anderson, who fumbled it under pressure but got it to Hill. Hill also was pressured, and White slapped the ball away. A teammate scooped it up as the buzzer sounded.

"Alan just struggled a little bit," Izzo said. "They did a good job jumping out on us."

Sampson and his players said it was a big victory for the Sooners, who play No. 5 Connecticut on Tuesday night.

"We really haven't had a big win over a good team yet, and this was a win we had to have," Ere said.

Oklahoma State beat Brigham Young 78-65 in the first game of the classic, which was sponsored by Touchstone Energy.



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