Jan 25, 2003

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer

WACO, Texas - Kevin Bookout did exactly what he was supposed to do Saturday for No. 7 Oklahoma. He dominated inside.

Bookout, a 6-foot-8 freshman who has started every game, scored a season-high 18 points and had nine rebounds as the Sooners beat Baylor 67-54, their 17th straight win in the series.

"When you go on the road, you better know how you are going to win," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We wanted to be methodical and keep getting the ball inside. We worked hard to get the ball into Kevin on offense."

Especially early in the game.

Bookout had 14 points and seven rebounds by halftime to set the pace for the Sooners (13-3, 4-1 Big 12), who outrebounded Baylor 40-22 and had a 42-12 scoring advantage in the paint.

"We got beat to the ball too many times," Baylor coach Dave Bliss said.

"He just did a great job of getting in position down low," said Baylor forward Lawrence Roberts, held below his season averages with nine points and seven rebounds while being guarded mostly by Bookout.

Bookout insisted he was more excited about his defensive performance. The Oklahoma guards made it easy for him on offense.

"The guards made unreal passes ... they set me up perfectly," Bookout said.

After Baylor (9-7, 0-5) scored the first five points after halftime to get within two, 38-36, Hollis Price keyed two straight baskets and the Bears never got closer.

Price drove into the lane for a basket to stretch the margin. Following two missed free throws by Baylor, Price penetrated again, this time dropping a pass to Bookout for an easy layup and a 42-36 lead with 16 minutes left.

"He's got his confidence going," Price said of Bookout. "We have confidence in him and he has confidence in himself. We'll keep going to him."

By time Price fed Quannas White for a layup 4 minutes later, the Sooners led 48-39 en route to building a lead that got as high as 15 points.

Price finished with 17 points and five assists. Johnnie Gilbert, forced into the starting role after center Jabahri Brown injured a tendon in his knee during pregame warmups, had 10 rebounds in his 30 minutes.

Sampson said that while Brown's injury didn't appear serious, he doesn't expect the center to play in Tuesday's game against Texas A&M.

John Lucas led Baylor with 15 points and Carlton Dotson had 10, all in the first half.

Sampson earned his 200th win in nine seasons at Oklahoma, matching Bruce Drake's 200 wins from 1939-55 for the second-most at the school. Billy Tubbs, who was a television analyst for the game, won 333 games in 14 seasons before being replaced by Sampson.

Sampson is 15-0 against Baylor. The Bears' last win in the series came during the 1977-78 season when Bliss was coaching the Sooners.

Four of Baylor's five Big 12 losses are to Top 25 teams, including Oklahoma State and Texas. The Cowboys have won 11 straight against Baylor, including 67-64 in overtime Tuesday, and Texas has won 10 in a row.

"Our confidence is there," said Lucas, one of Baylor's three sophomore starters. "We are competing with the best teams and playing our hearts out. It will pay off for us if we play the same way we've been playing."

Oklahoma had three of its 11 turnovers in first two minutes of the second half, but Baylor managed to convert that into only two free throws.

The Bears trailed 38-36 after Roberts went in strong for a short basket and then added a free throw.

After falling behind by 10 in the first half, consecutive 3-pointers by R.T. Guinn and Lucas capped an 8-0 Baylor run.

After Ebi Ere was fouled inside and made a free throw, Oklahoma scored three straight baskets off offensive rebounds. Ere's putback with 6:14 left pushed the Sooners' lead back to 29-22.

Still, Ere's shooting woes continued as he made just 3-of-12. After leading the Sooners in scoring eight of the first 12 games, he has made just 9-of-48 shots the past four games and his seven points Saturday matched his high during the stretch.