Nov 23, 2002

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - Ebi Ere started quickly for No. 7 Oklahoma and didn't slow down much.

Ere scored the Sooners' first nine points and finished with 27 Saturday as Oklahoma beat Princeton 82-63 in the championship game of the Sooner Invitational.

Ere also had seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a blocked shot. He was called for a technical foul, for hanging on the rim after a dunk.

"He's a player, there's no other way to put it," Princeton coach John Thompson said. "There's not too many facets of his game where you can't say he's at least good at it.

"He's a scorer, he finds a way to get points. And then he plays that tough, hard-nosed defense that is associated with Oklahoma basketball."

Jabahri Brown scored 14 and Hollis Price had 13 for the Sooners (2-1), who shot 53.6 percent and outrebounded the Tigers 34-24.

The Sooners took a little while to get going against Princeton's zone defense, but Ere made four free throws, hit a 3-pointer and then scored on a jumper in the lane.

His second jumper started a 15-0 run that gave Oklahoma a 22-9 lead midway through the first half.

"When he's making his 3s, he becomes really, really good," coach Kelvin Sampson said. "He's also a very good offensive rebounder and can make free throws. He's just a load on that wing."

Ere was one of five players who scored during the big first-half run. Five of the six baskets came in the paint, including a fastbreak layin by Brown on a lob pass from Ere.

"I just hit shots," Ere said. "I got some open looks in their zone early and knocked down some shots off the rotation of the ball.

"We just tried to go out there and play hard like we've been working on all week in practice."

A 3-pointer by Andre Logan, who led Princeton with 16 points, and a driving shot by Will Venable brought Princeton within 30-23 with five minutes left in the half. The Sooners closed the half with a 14-6 run for a 44-29 halftime lead.

Ray Robins sank a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half to get Princeton within 48-34 before Oklahoma scored six straight to widen the lead to 20 points. Princeton got no closer than 17 after that.

Sampson liked the fact his team had assists on 21 of its 30 baskets.

"As good as Ebi was, and he would be the first to say this, credit his teammates for giving him an opportunity," Sampson said.

Point guard Quannas White, who had five assists, said getting the ball to Ere only made sense.

"I think all our teammates know, when Ebi's getting his offensively, we've got to get the ball in his hands," White said.