March 26, 2003

GAME: No. 12 Butler (27-5) vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (26-6).
REGIONAL: East, semifinal.
TIME: Friday, 6:10 p.m. EST.
SITE: Pepsi Arena; Albany, N.Y.

Butler has been playing the role of underdog to perfection.

The 12th-seeded Bulldogs continue their surprising NCAA tournament run against top-seeded Oklahoma and ailing guard Hollis Price.

Butler is making its first appearance in a NCAA tournament regional semifinal since 1961, but despite their remarkable run, the Bulldogs aren't satisfied just yet.

"It's not our goal just to get to the Sweet 16," Bulldogs guard Darnell Archey said. "Our goal all along has been to be national champions.

"We're thrilled and excited, but we're not satisfied."

Archey's brilliant shooting Sunday propelled Butler into the round of 16 with a 79-71 victory over Rick Pitino and Louisville in the East Regional on Saturday.

Archey shot 8-of-9 on 3-pointers - hitting all six in the second half - and tied his career high with 26 points to end Pitino's return to the NCAA tournament.

"It doesn't surprise me when he makes those shots," Bulldogs coach Todd Lickliter said. "To be honest, it kind of surprises me when he doesn't. We have tremendous confidence in him."

The Sooners will try to limit the amount of open looks the Bulldogs get from the outside, but their main concern is Price's health.

Price, the Big 12 player of the year who averages 18.5 points, has an injured left groin that limited him to 41 minutes in Oklahoma's first two NCAA tournament games.

Price is getting treatment each day, and hopes to be close to full speed for Friday's game against Butler in Albany, N.Y.

Price took just one shot, a 3-pointer that he made, in 11 minutes against South Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Price had five points in 30 minutes of Oklahoma's 74-65 win over California on Saturday.

"We have to have Hollis," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said Tuesday. "You can't lose a guy like Hollis and expect to be as good, especially when you're playing the teams you are now."

With Price bothered by the groin injury, freshman De'Angelo Alexander scored a career-high 16 points in Oklahoma's first-round victory over South Carolina State and added 15 points and seven rebounds in the second round against California.

"He's played well the last 10 or 12 games," Sampson said. "Since we've moved him into the starting lineup, he's had a lot of good games. We've played a lot of good teams this year and he's played well."

Freshman forward Kevin Bookout sat out the Sooners first game with strep throat, but bounced back to score a career-high 22 points against California. The 6-foot-8 Bookout is Oklahoma's second-leading scorer at 9.4 points per game and averages a team-high 5.9 rebounds.

"We have a lot of good players on this team," Sampson said. "The mark of a good team is that other players step up when given an opportunity."

Butler holds a 2-1 advantage over Oklahoma in the all-time series. The teams have not met since 1997.

The winner of Friday's game moves on to the East Regional final to play either 10th-seeded Auburn or third-seeded Syracuse.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
Butler - F Lewis Curry, F Joel Cornette, G Mike Monserez, G Brandon Miller, G Archey.
Oklahoma - F Johnnie Gilbert, F Kevin Bookout, G Quannas White, G Price, G Alexander.

TEAM LEADERS:
Butler - Miller, 12.3 ppg and 3.3 apg; Cornette, 6.3 rpg.
Oklahoma - Price, 18.5 ppg; Bookout, 5.9 rpg; White, 4.1 apg.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Butler - At-large berth, Horizon League; beat Mississippi State 47-46, first round; beat Louisville 79-71, second round.
Oklahoma - Automatic bid, Big 12 conference champion; beat South Carolina State 71-54, first round; beat California 74-65, second round.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD:
Butler - 5-5, 5 years.
Oklahoma - 29-21, 21 years.