Dec 30, 2002
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - With No. 14 Michigan State coming up next on the schedule, Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson felt it was important to get his big men involved in the Sooners' offense Monday night.
"I got on them about that the last couple of days," Sampson said. "We need to give it to the big men, let them play."
Oklahoma's inside men came up big as the Sooners beat North Carolina-Asheville 100-64.
Sampson said poor production from the inside game was one of the reasons No. 8 Mississippi State beat Oklahoma (7-2) Saturday in New Orleans.
Kevin Bookout and Jabahri Brown didn't disappoint against North Carolina-Asheville. Bookout, a freshman, had 17 points and seven rebounds and Brown scored 11 points.
"I think this game really got our confidence up," Bookout said. "Coach wanted us to get the ball inside tonight and establish our post game. This should help us out in our next game against Michigan State."
Ebi Ere led all scorers with 19 points for Oklahoma and Hollis Price added 12. Price was perfect from the floor in the first half, going 3-for-3 and making his only 3-point attempt.
The Sooners turned in nearly as flawless a performance in the first half, shooting 56 percent from the field and sinking 6-of-9 3-pointers.
Bookout scored the game's first basket. His second, with 10:05 left in the half, put Oklahoma up 22-8.
Ere then made a couple of 3s a minute and a half later to make it 29-10.
"We made Oklahoma's big guys healthy again," North Carolina-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "All of their guys played well tonight."
The Sooners, who led 45-17 at halftime, forced the Bulldogs (3-6) into 15 turnovers.
"They play tough defense with great pressure," Biedenbach said. "Oklahoma has played great defense forever and tonight was no exception."
Oklahoma came out hot in the second half, going on a 20-6 run in the first 5 minutes to put the game out of reach.
Sampson said his team will continue to study the tape from the go Mississippi State game to learn from the errors.
Brown, who had four blocks against North Carolina-Asheville, said the victory Monday helped lift the team's spirits somewhat.
"You're still going to have the taste of a loss in your mouth but it felt really good to be able to score that many points tonight. This game helps us out but we haven't forgotten about our last game."
All but one of the 12 Sooners who saw action scored. Reserve Blake Johnston had nine assists, and freshman De'Angelo Alexander scored 14 points.
Andre Smith and Alex Kragel had 12 points apiece for North Carolina-Asheville.