Sooners too much for Arizona

SAN JOSE — Oklahoma has ended two of Arizona's most improbable seasons and with their 88-67 win they end the most improbable of all. The Sooners took advantage of a number of Arizona miscues, including three steals in a four-possession span and pulled away down the stretch.

If you're in the market for a new or used luxury automobile, check out the inventory at Lexus of Tucon. You can find more information on our model lineup, browse our Pre-Owned Inventory, or even request a service appointment. Our Internet Manager is just a click away, or call him direct with any questions or for pricing information.

Thank you,
Tim Townson
Phone: (520) 370-5622

It was Oklahoma that ended the Wildcats' dream Final Four run in 1988 and the Sooners struck again when they upset the improbable Jason Terry led team in 1999. The Sooners proved they were for real by beating a freshmen -laden squad this season.

The Sooners were more physical than the Wildcats and seemed to get every rebound. A number of rebounds slipped through the Wildcats' hands and Oklahoma outrebounded the Cats 16-12 on the offensive glass. However, many of the Cats' offensive rebounds came after the Sooners had the game was well in hand.

"When we're playing well we're rebounding well on both ends," Kelvin Sampson said. "We cut down their second shots and got second and third shots ourselves."

It was a game where the score looked a lot worse than the actual outcome of the game. The Cats were down only 54-51 when the Sooners pulled away. The two-seed Sooners outscored the Cats 34-16 down the stretch and sealed the game when Aaron McGhee found his touch late in the game. The big power forward was held to two points until the final 7:00 minutes, when he scored 11points and sealed the game on a fade-away that put the Sooners up 17.

"They just had a lot more possessions than we had and that was the back-breaker," Isaiah Fox said. "We'd go on a little run and they'd get a couple of rebounds."

Arizona was also plagued by turnovers. In addition to being out-rebounded by five the Cats had seven more turnovers than the Sooners.

The big story offensively for Oklahoma was Hollis Price. The junior guard scored 26 points, 22 in the first half when he was the only offensive weapon for Oklahoma. Price drained seven first half three-pointers and kept the otherwise limited Sooners in the game.

"Hollis carried us early," Sampson said. "He was tremendous, but then I've come to expect that from him."

Arizona's three juniors struggled. Jason Gardner managed only 14 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The Sooners made a concerted effort to limit Gardner's looks and for the most part succeeded. Gardner made just 1-of-6 three pointers, but most of those were rushed or contested looks.

Oklahoma showed a glimpse of what was going to come in the early moments, getting the offensive boards and finding holes in the Wildcats' 3-2 zone. After an alley-oop to open the contest, Price took a page from the USC play book and got looks from the corners. He responded by burying two early three-pointers to give the Sooners an 8-2 lead in the opening minutes.

"Hollis was getting open looks and knocking down shots," McGhee said.

Arizona stormed back going on a 10-0 run while holding the Sooner scoreless for 6:27. A Channing Frye dunk and a Gardner tip-in sandwiched around three-pointers by Rick Anderson and Salim Stoudamire put Arizona up 12-8.

Price continued to be OU's primary offensive threat. The junior hit three of his next four three-pointers to spark the Sooners and was responsible for nine of the team's next 13 points. His second three-pointer of the run gave them the lead and his third put the Sooners up 21-17.

Will Bynum came off the bench and sparked a 13-2 run that put Arizona up 30-23. The freshman point guard combined a fast break lay-up and an acrobatic reverse lay-up with three free throws to score seven points in less than 3:00.

The Sooners stormed into and out of the locker room on fire. They scored the last five points of the first half and the first six of the second half and took a 39-37 lead on an Ebi Ere three-pointer.

Arizona came back and took a four-point lead but the Sooners took advantage of sloppy Arizona play and went on a 13-3 run. Poor shooting and bad ball handling allowed the Sooners to get out on the run. A Price leaner and another three gave them a 51-44 lead inside of 12:00 mark.

In the second half the Sooners made a number of defensive adjustments, including putting aggressive Daryan Selvy on Luke Walton. That move, combined with putting a variety of perimeter players on Anderson hurt the Wildcats offensively. Walton scored nine, having a great deal of trouble getting into the lane. Anderson was also hurt by the move and could only get off four shots, netting just seven points.

"They made it difficult for us to get any open looks," Lute Olson said. "They were just so quick that even when we had open looks they were there quickly to contest them."

Arizona cut the lead to three at 54-51 but then self-destructed. The Wildcats seemed to be a step behind the rest of the way. The Wildcats had trouble scoring, rebounding and holding onto the ball. The Wildcats who shot 56.5% in the first 20:00, shot only 29.4% in the second half.

Arizona was out-muscled, but got solid play from their young post players. Channing Frye scored nine points, on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting and Isaiah Fox had eight points as well.

"The inside guys are going to be good players," Olson said. "Next year we should have balanced scoring."

Wildcat Authority Top Stories