Feb 1, 2003

By DOUG TUCKER
AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Sometimes the little things matter most.

Just ask Ebi Ere, whose offensive rebound off his own missed free throw proved just as vital as any of his 25 points in Oklahoma's 91-89 overtime victory over Kansas State on Saturday.

Ere's free throw with 16.7 seconds left in overtime gave the Sooners (15-3, 6-1 Big 12) an 89-87 lead. But when he missed the second free throw, teammate Jozsef Szendrei batted the ball into the backcourt and Ere wound up with the rebound.

"Jozsef throwing it back to me was huge," said Ere, who then was deliberately fouled and sank both free throws. "That made it a four-point game instead of a three-point game."

Kansas State's Frank Richards cut it to two when he drove the lane for a basket and was fouled. With 4.9 seconds left, Richards deliberately missed the free throw, but the Wildcats knocked the ball out of bounds while battling for the rebound.

"Adversity doesn't test your character as much as it reveals it," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Kansas State (11-8, 2-4), which had a nine-game home winning streak snapped, sent the game to overtime when Tim Ellis canned a long 3-pointer that tied it 82-all with one-tenth of a second on the clock.

"I just saw the open spot," Ellis said. "I just found myself get open on the wing. So I let it go. It felt good. I was just hoping it went in."

The crowd cheered wildly when Ellis connected.

"We had the momentum, the crowd behind us and everything," Kansas State's Marques Hayden said. "But the exhilaration lasts for about two seconds. Then you have to go right back out and play well."

When Ellis' shot went in, Sampson immediately thought of a shot Texas' Brandon Mouton hit against his team at the buzzer a year earlier, forcing overtime in a game the Sooners also won.

"I thought, `OK, we've been here before, we know how to win this game,"' Sampson said. "The last thing you want to do is go, `Oh, shoot, it's not our day."'

Hollis Price, the Big 12's leading scorer in conference play, had 22 points for Oklahoma before fouling out in overtime. Quannas White had 19 and freshman Kevin Bookout had 16.

Matt Siebrandt scored 23 points to lead Kansas State, but he fouled out early in the extra period. Jarrett Hart had 18 and Richards had 12.

With 1:35 left in overtime, White's two free throws gave Oklahoma an 88-87 lead.

In the final minute of regulation, Ere's two free throws put Oklahoma on top 80-77 and then Siebrandt muscled inside for his left-handed hook to get the Wildcats to 80-79 with 49 seconds to go.

Bookout, on a great pass from Ere, made a basket that gave the Sooners an 82-79 lead with 21 seconds left. After a Kansas State miss, Ellis stepped behind the 3-point line and tied it at 82.

With three starters carrying three fouls and two saddled with four, the Sooners went on a 6-0 spurt, capped by Price's drive to the basket that made it 74-69 with 4:20 left.

With 3:59 to go, Oklahoma's Jabahri Brown drew his fifth foul and Pervis Pasco made both free throws to cut the lead to 74-71.

Pasco, a 47-percent free throw shooter, was 11-of-13 from the line.

"That overtime period gave us a chance to test our toughness, and that's exactly what we talked about in the huddle," Sampson said. "I said, `Remember Texas. We found a way to win that one and we're going to find a way to win this one."'