Dec 7, 2002

 

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Hartford got a first-hand look at how potent Oklahoma's perimeter players can be.

Ebi Ere scored a career-high 33 points and Hollis Price added 17, leading the sixth-ranked Sooners to a 92-52 victory Saturday.

Ere was 4-of-7 from 3-point range and Price made three of his five shots from behind the arc. Ere was more than the Hawks could handle in the first half, scoring 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

"I watched him on tape, I watched him on TV, I watched him when he was in junior college, and obviously he's a talent," Hartford coach Larry Harrison said. "I think Jerell Parker is probably our best defensive wing player, but he was no match tonight for him."

Ere, who also had eight rebounds, wound up 11-of-18 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. His previous career high was 29 points last season against Arkansas.

"I was getting wide open 3s and I was hitting them tonight," Ere said. "Last week, we got the same open shots and we weren't hitting 'em."

The Sooners (4-1) played better than they did in their previous game, a lackluster 75-63 victory over Prairie View on Nov. 30. They took control with an 11-3 run midway through the first half and didn't let Hartford (2-2) threaten after that.

Oklahoma's defense made its presence felt as well - Hartford shot 31 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers. The Sooners came up with 16 steals.

Hartford made only one field goal in the final eight minutes of the first half, then went 11 minutes without a field goal during one second-half stretch. The Hawks were 5-of-22 from the floor in the second half.

"If we keep them off the foul line in the second half, that's a dominating defensive performance," coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought our defense in the first half was a little bit indifferent, but our defense in second half? Now we're headed in the right direction."

The Hawks were coming off a 65-52 loss to Oklahoma State on Thursday night in which they had 13 shots blocked. They only got three shots blocked by Oklahoma, but shot poorly and were outrebounded 47-29.

Ere, leading the Sooners with a 20.3 average, scored seven points during the 11-3 first-half run including back-to-back 3-pointers. The surge pushed a 22-18 lead to 33-21 with 6:13 left in the first half.

Ere's big first half helped the Sooners build a 46-29 lead. Price began the second half by scoring Oklahoma's first 10 points, making the lead 58-34, and the rout was on.

Kevin Bookout had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Sooners.

Aaron Cook let Hartford with 16 points.

Oklahoma extended its home court winning streak to 26.