Nov 30, 2002

 

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - Given a chance to redeem himself, Hollis Price came through for No. 8 Oklahoma.

Price scored 13 of Oklahoma's final 18 points Saturday night, leading the Sooners to a 75-63 victory over Prairie View A&M in a game that left winning coach Kelvin Sampson seething.

"I thought the toughest team, the best-coached team, the team that played like the game was really important to them, was Prairie View," Sampson said.

The Panthers, with just eight scholarship players, used a 9-0 run at the start of the second half to take a 40-38 lead and stayed within a basket or two most of the rest of the way before the Sooners (3-1) finally broke away in the closing minutes.

Prairie View shot 53 percent, but was outrebounded 50-25. Their two biggest players, Chris Garwood and Roderick Riely, each fouled out.

"They wore us down, obviously, pounding the boards," coach Jerome Francis Jr. said. "We're trying to establish a new perception, a new image of Panther basketball, and we've got a lot of basketball to play."

Ebi Ere, who along with Price scored 16 points, had two baskets and an assist during a 9-0 run that gave the Sooners a 55-48 lead with 8:42 left. But Prairie View rallied, with a free throw and basket by Malachi Thurston and a jumper by Gregory Burks making the score 55-53.

It was a 57-54 lead when Price returned with about seven minutes left. He promptly scored on a baseline drive, then hit a 3-pointer in transition for a 62-54 advantage.

With the score 63-58, Oklahoma went on a 12-2 run that included two 3-pointers and a follow shot by Price.

"I just wanted to help my team," Price said. "I knew I wasn't playing good. Coach made a decision to sit me down, and once I got in I had something to prove."

Price wound up 6-of-14 from the field after going 1-for-7 in the first half. Ere was 8-of-20. Point guard Quannas White was 0-of-10.

Sampson said the Sooners, who reached the Final Four a year ago, "remind me of fat cats. They've got pretty good lives right now, they're kind of satisfied with what's going on and their play."

He clearly was not.

"I didn't like our defense. I didn't like our guard play," Sampson said. "We've got to get better in every area. We've got to get a lot more focused on what we're doing."

Thurston scored 16 points and Burks 15 for Prairie View.

Jabahri Brown grabbed 13 rebounds for Oklahoma, and Kevin Bookout and Ere had eight each.