Price leads Sooners past Athletes First

Junior guard Hollis Price scores 20 points in Oklahoma's 86-78 exhibition win over Athletes First

The OU men's basketball team opened their exhibition season with an 86-78 win over Athletes First.

The Sooners were led in scoring by junior Hollis Price with 20 points and in rebounds by junior college transfer Jozsef Szendrei, who came off the bench with 10.

Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson started a smaller three-guard lineup of Aaron (Ace) McGhee and Daryan Selvy along the front line and Ebi Ere, Quannas White and Hollis Price in the back court.

White struggled in his first game at the point finishing with 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting, but he did handle the ball well, dishing out five assists against one turnover. Price played shooting guard most of the night and hit 6-of-10 from the field, 2-for-4 from three-point range and 6-for-8 from the line. However, Price was careless handling the ball at times coming up with only 2 assist against three turnovers.

The Sooners finished with four players in double figures as Price led the way with 20, followed by McGhee with 19, Ere with 19 and White with 10. Ere hit on 8-of-17 shots with several others rolling off the rim and was 1-for-6 shooting the three.

Oklahoma outscored Athletes First in the first half 46-33, but were very sloppy in the second, committing 10 fouls within the first 10 minutes of the half. The Sooners lost the second half scoring 45-40 and that left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of Coach Sampson.

"I don't know how to evaluate exhibition games," said Sampson. "I see all kinds of things that we can improve on, but I felt like we had a lot of potential and saw a lot of things we can improve on defensively. Our new guys have a lot to learn defensively. I knew that they would come in a play us well tonight. I think our intelligence has to improve. How many fouls did we have when we were 10 seconds within on the shot clock? We were over-pressuring and did a number of things that we need to improve on."

"I think our team is going to be a good team eventually, but obviously we are not a good team right now."

Former Sooner recruit and Tulsa standout Tony Heard did a great job at the point for Athletes First finishing with 20 points and four assists. Heard was tough on the Sooner point guards, which didn't go unnoticed.

"Tony Heard did a great job at point guard for them and set a great tempo for his team," said Sampson. "I am not sure we ever had that tempo for us tonight. Our point guard have to do a better job of getting us into a flow and getting us into our offense. That will come with time, but we need to start working on it at tomorrow's practice."

The Sooners won the battle on the boards 49-39 and finished with an impressive 21 offensive boards. Selvy added nine boards and Ere eight.

Oklahoma shot a disappointing 39 percent from the floor, but had good looks at the basket all night. OU was 33.3 percent from three-point range and hit 72 percent from the free throw line. The Sooners held Athletes First to 41.7 percent shooting from the field.

Athletes First small forward Alonzo Richmond led all scores with 21 points. Former Sooners Eric Martin and James Mayden also played for Athletes First and chipped in 10 and 2 points respectively.

"I thought that Athletes First gave us a good test tonight. They've got a lot of good talent on that team including Tony Heard and Eric Martin," said Sampson.

"I thought that Athletes First gave us a good test tonight. They've got a lot of good talent on that team including Tony Heard and Eric Martin," said Sampson.

"You certainly have to give them credit but we can play better. Our team did some good things but it's November 5 and we played just about how we should. We're going to get a lot better and the good thing is that we have a few days to practice on some things so we can continue to get better."

Oklahoma will play its final exhibition tune-up against the EA Sports All-Stars Friday at the newly renovated Lloyd Noble Center. Tip-off is schedule for 7 p.m.

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