Oklahoma's Price is Right

It wasn't just Hollis Price's 31 points and Hilton Coliseum-record nine 3-pointers which led to Iowa State's demise Saturday afternoon, as Oklahoma's perimeter defense was just as impressive.

In leading his Sooners to a 70-60 victory, the sharp-shooting Price answered one Cyclone flurry after another. On the defensive end, he and backcourt mate Quannas White helped to limit Jake Sullivan and Tim Barnes scoreless throughout the opening 20 minutes.

"He went into a zone and hit some tough shots," said a frustrated Sullivan, who saw his team fall to 0-3 in Big 12 action and 10-4 overall. "Some of them were shots you want him to shoot and they went in. Hats off to him. That's why he's a great player.

"He was going to bounce back and have a great night shooting after that Oklahoma State game. He had an unbelievable night shooting. You don't hear of people shooting 16 threes in a game too many times. You have to be really feeling it to do that."

Sullivan and Barnes got going in the second half and combined to score 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, but it was simply not enough to overcome a 13-point Sooner advantage midway through the second half.

"We need points out of those two guards," said ISU head coach Larry Eustachy. "We're playing a top-five team in the country and they're trying to take away your strengths, which is Jake for sure. Jake and I have talked a lot about letting the offense come to him. You could have run anything that you wanted to and they were going to switch on any kind of screen. Our theory is let the game go along and Jake will free up if he works hard enough.

"Tim's got to get tougher. When he gets tougher in practice, he'll get tougher in a game. Parts of practice break him down. Until that changes it won't show up in the game. We desperately need him to make some tremendous strides like some of the other guys on this team."

Without a perimeter game to lean on, Eustachy's squad was forced to rely on its inside presence. Chris Alexander finished one rebound short of a double-double after scoring seven points and grabbing six boards in the first half. Starters Jared Homan and Jackson Vroman did their part by combining for 16 points and 18 rebounds.

But without the added dimension of Sullivan and Barnes, ISU couldn't muster enough offense and shot just 40 percent from the field.

"They forced our bigs to get the shots," said Adam Haluska, who provided some late heroics that got the Cyclones back in contention briefly. "Sometimes when they weren't falling, we weren't scoring for a couple minutes. But I thought our post guys did a great job overall. We out-rebounded them and did some of the small things real well. We've got to execute all around. If we do that, we're going to win some games."

After seeing their team fall behind by 10 points going into intermission and trail by as many as 16 points early in the second half, an announced crowd of 13,058 got something to cheer for with a pair of Haluska 3-pointers in a span of 1:13.

Sullivan sandwiched a bucket in the paint between the two shots as ISU cut the deficit to 58-53 with just under seven minutes to play.

But Price would nail two 3-pointers in just over three minutes during a game-breaking 10-1 Sooner run.

"We're thinking we're back in the game," Sullivan. "We did it at Texas, too. Now it's just taking that next step and closing it out there when we're on a roll like that. It was a great effort by us to get back in the game. Closing it out is something we need to get better at."

Closing out a game is just one of Eustachy's concerns as the Cyclones continue on during a torrid January stretch. A Big 12 road game in Missouri is next up for ISU.

"It has taken a long time to get them to buy into how you need to play basketball," Eustachy said. "We were so far apart for a while that they had a way and I had a way. Their way does not work. Our way works. I think they understand now that you really have to execute. These are a bunch of new guys finding their way."

A recent run of losses in the Big 12 has to worry a veteran like Sullivan, who experienced last season's disappointments. But it's important the Cyclones move on and learn from the past three weeks, he said.

"I'm frustrated and tired of losing in this dang conference, but we've got to keep our heads up," Sullivan said. "If we start putting our heads down and getting discouraged, it's not good. But if we realize we're playing possibly three of the top teams in the country in our first three games and have gotten better over the games, I think it will be good for us. Our goal is to win nine of the next 13, which is a reasonable goal."

At least he won't have to worry about facing Price for a few months.

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