March 4, 2003

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - Having taken care of a little preliminary business, No. 5 Oklahoma can look forward to some serious work.

The Sooners, chasing Kansas for the Big 12 title, beat Nebraska 76-51 Tuesday night and now close out the regular season at home Saturday against No. 4 Texas. Oklahoma and the Longhorns are tied for second place and need a victory for any chance at catching the sixth-ranked Jayhawks, who finish their season at Missouri on Sunday.

"We're trying to go 13-3 in the league, and then `Go Missouri Tigers,"' Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Hollis Price had 20 points to lead five players in double figures as the Sooners (21-5, 12-3) rolled after a sluggish start. Oklahoma went 10-for-10 from the field in a 25-0 run that spanned both halves to take control and ran its homecourt winning streak to 37 games, longest in the nation.

"The first five or six minutes we weren't making any shots, but I don't ever worry about that," Sampson said. "Our defense was so good, they weren't scoring. It was just a matter of time before we took off."

De'Angelo Alexander scored 15 points and Jabahri Brown had 14 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma, while Ebi Ere and Kevin Bookout each scored 10.

Andrew Drevo had 24 points for Nebraska (11-17, 3-12), which dropped to 0-7 on the road in the Big 12, getting outscored by an average of 21 points in those games.

"I thought they were much more aggressive than us and were rewarded for such," said Nebraska coach Barry Collier, who used four of his five timeouts in the first half.

Oklahoma made just four of its first 19 shots and Nebraska went 5-of-16. As a result, the score was only 12-12 with just under nine minutes to play in the half.

Two free throws by Alexander at the 7:57 mark started a 9-0 run that gave Oklahoma a 21-12 lead. Nebraska committed five of its 20 turnovers during that three-minute span.

The score was 25-18 when Oklahoma took over for good.

Price, Quannas White and Ere all made 3-pointers during a 13-0 run that closed the half and gave the Sooners a 38-18 lead. In addition to his 3-pointer, Price had an assist on a fastbreak alley-oop dunk by Johnnie Gilbert, and had a steal and layup.

Price opened the second half with a short jumper to start a 12-0 run. Alexander had a 3-pointer and a layup and Price added another 3 before Brown capped it with an alley-oop tip-in.

"They defended well, too," Price said of the Cornhuskers. "We had open shots we should have made. We found a way at the end of the half to make easy baskets, and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted our big men to run and then kick the ball up to them."

Oklahoma shot 43.5 percent from the field, but made eight 3-pointers compared with just one for Nebraska. Drevo was 11-for-17 but the rest of his teammates combined to go 10-for-36.

"We just came out and played defense the way we know how to play defense," said Brown, who had four of Oklahoma's seven blocks. "Not take anything away from Nebraska because they're a good team, but we came out and everything clocked on defense."