Feb 19, 2003

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma made sure there was no debate this time.

The fifth-ranked Sooners, who lost on a disputed basket the last time they played Oklahoma State, took control with a 21-6 run late in the first half Wednesday night and beat the 16th-ranked Cowboys 64-48.

Hollis Price scored 22 points and Kevin Bookout had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Sooners (18-4, 9-2) won their 35th straight home game to remain tied with Texas for second place in the Big 12 Conference.

Oklahoma State (19-5, 8-3) played much better than in a stunning home loss to Baylor on Saturday night, but was undone by 28 percent shooting (16-of-56).

"Our defense was outstanding. That was the big story for us," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We wanted to contest every shot. We wanted to get up and really take away certain kids' penetration. Our kids really had a firm grasp of the scouting report."

And Price had a better feel for how to get his points. He scored just six in the first meeting Jan. 13, going 2-for-14 from the field. He was 5-of-14 this time, but went 4-of-6 from 3-point range and made all eight of his free throws.

"After that game in Stillwater, the next day Coach Sampson brought me into his office and gave me a tape of my shots, my touches," Price said. "He just wanted me to slow down a little bit.

"I slowed down and was a little patient tonight. We set great screens and our guys did a good job of getting me the ball."

Ebi Ere of the Sooners scored 11 points, including a big 3-pointer after the Cowboys missed a chance to cut their deficit to 11 in the second half.

Victor Williams, whose jumper with 3.6 seconds left gave Oklahoma State its 48-46 victory last month, led the Cowboys with 18 points. Melvin Sanders had just three after scoring a career-high 30 against Baylor.

The Cowboys are 2-4 since their 15-game winning streak ended with a loss to Texas on Feb. 1.

"We're just not playing well right now," Williams said. "I can't give you an answer why, can't give you a reason. But I just know if we're going to compete in the Big 12, we're going to have to get it back on track."

Bookout had eight points in the big run that closed the first half and gave the Sooners a 34-22 lead. Then the Cowboys went 1-for-6 to start the second half and Oklahoma widened the margin to 49-26. The final two points came on free throws by Price after coach Eddie Sutton was hit with a technical foul.

After falling behind by 23, the Cowboys scored 10 straight to get within 49-36 with 10:29 left. Then they missed three shots in close on one possession, blowing a chance to cut the deficit to 11. Ere came back with a 3-pointer that ended the threat, and the Cowboys got no closer than 13 after that.

"That was just kind of a knife in the heart for us," Williams said.

Oklahoma State held Oklahoma without a basket for a five-minute stretch early in the first half, and it looked for awhile as though this one might wind up like the first meeting.

But then the Cowboys went just 1-for-12 from the field in the final seven minutes of the first half as Oklahoma took over.

De'Angelo Alexander started the big run with two free throws. Bookout exploited single coverage to score four baskets, including a short baseline jumper on a pass from Quannas White just before the half ended. Ere and Price had 3-pointers in the spurt.

"I thought we relaxed a little bit on defense and they hit some good shots," Sutton said. "The last two days we had the best practices we've had in a while. But if you can't score, it just puts so much pressure on your defense."