Dec 21, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson says early season, non-conference games provide the perfect opportunity to learn things about your team.

"It's like a compass reading, you just want to head north," Sampson said Saturday after his seventh-ranked Sooners beat Georgia State 89-62.

"It's obvious today, that watching our team play, we're heading north."

That's good news for Oklahoma (6-1), which plays Top 25 teams in three of the next four games, including next Saturday in New Orleans against No. 16 Mississippi State.

"That's why it's important for us to keep improving," Sampson said. "The slate's going to get tougher for us."

Hollis Price had 22 points and seven assists for the Sooners, who won their 28th straight home game.

Leroy Davis led Georgia State (3-5) with 22 points, while Nate Williams, the Panthers' top scorer, finished with just six points.

The lesson for Panthers coach Lefty Driesell and his team wasn't nearly as productive.

"The most we got out of this game was $45,000, a free bus and two nights at a free motel," Driesell said. "We got a lot of guys who think they're a lot better than they are. I think we found out tonight they better get to work if they want to be players."

Driesell's team was outmatched from the beginning.

Oklahoma went up 6-5 on a basket by Kevin Bookout with 17:51 left in the half and would not trail again. Bookout finished with 10 points.

Lamont McIntosh hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to get the Panthers within 31-24 with 3:32 left.

But Price hit four free throws over the next 20 seconds to make it 35-24 and the Sooners led 41-29 at halftime.

Oklahoma opened the second half with a 9-2 run.

Price's layup with 17:16 remaining made it 50-33. Two minutes later, Price tossed an alley-oop to Ebi Ere who dunked it for a 54-34 lead.

Ere finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

The Sooners will have a few days off for Christmas before getting preparing for the Bulldogs.

"We don't know anything about those guys yet," Price said. "Once we get back from our break we're going to get right out there and get to work."

Price and Quannas White, who played on the same prep team in New Orleans, are especially looking forward to the game.

"We are excited about it," Price said. "It is going to be a fun homecoming for Quannas and me. Mississippi State is a good team who keeps getting better."