Jan 11, 2003

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - Once again, Oklahoma served as a rude host to Colorado.

The ninth-ranked Sooners stymied Colorado with their defense, holding the Buffaloes to 19 first-half points in a 69-54 victory Saturday.

In the Big 12 opener for both teams, Oklahoma (10-2) held Colorado to its lowest point total since a 78-35 loss to Texas in the 2000 Big 12 tournament. The Buffaloes (10-4) shot a season-low 31.1 percent (19-of-61).

"Oklahoma's just one of those teams, they really get after you defensively," Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. "They did a great job of making our post guys catch it off the block and then they did a good job of coming hard with the double team."

Ebi Ere scored 20 points and Hollis Price had 19 for Oklahoma, which won easily despite shooting only 34.9 percent.

The victory was the Sooners' 30th straight at home and 20th in a row over Colorado in Norman. Oklahoma improved to 40-3 against Colorado since 1982.

"Our guys were active, we were alive, and I thought defensively and rebounding wise we were really good today," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought for 36 minutes, when we had our name guys in, we were pretty good."

Colorado has four players who average double-figure scoring, but only Michel Morandais reached that level Saturday with 18 points.

David Harrison, the Buffaloes' 7-foot center, scored six points, 10 below his average. It was his lowest total since scoring two against Montana last season.

The Buffaloes went 7-of-28 in the first half and that was compounded by poor rebounding - they grabbed only four offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Oklahoma didn't get much going, either, going 11-of-28 from the field in the first half. But the Sooners were able to put together two short bursts to take control.

The first was an 11-2 run that turned a 7-5 deficit into a 16-9 lead. Oklahoma then went six possessions without a basket and Colorado cut the deficit to 16-14 before Ere made two 3s in a 10-2 spurt that gave the Sooners a 26-16 lead.

Oklahoma scored the first nine points of the second half to push the lead to 40-19. The Buffaloes made only two field goals in the first nine minutes of the half in falling behind 53-27.

"Coach always tells us about the first four minutes of the second half," said Price, who hit two quick jumpers to get Oklahoma going. "I think we got off to a good start in the second half and everybody fed off each other and we just kept going from there."

Oklahoma has won four in a row since a 54-45 loss to No. 7 Mississippi State on Dec. 28 in New Orleans. The Sooners scored 100 points in one of those, against North Carolina-Asheville, but otherwise hasn't topped 73.

"It's not like we're trying to score 70 a game. We'd like to score more," Sampson said. "But the longer you're in this profession, the more you realize that the name of the game is to win, and we're pretty good at that."