NORMAN -- Hollis Price scored 24 points, and Ebi Ere showed signs of coming out of a four-game slump by adding 15 in Oklahoma's 75-68 victory over Texas A&M Tuesday night. It was an odd game to say the least.
Many factors comprised the overall unusualness of the game tonight. For starters, a 6 p.m. tip-off left Lloyd Noble half empty at the beginning of the game. Couple that with the lack of minutes for Quannas White and the absence of Jabahri Brown and you've got a squad that didn't resemble that 2003 Sooners that most have come to know and love.
Yet through the clouds of disorder shone one recognizable beam: Hollis Price. The senior finished with 24 points, three rebounds, three
assists and two blocks.
"We don't know how to stop him," said Melvin Watkins, head coach of an up and coming Aggie squad. "Good players are hard to stop. Nine out
of 10 times he's going to make something happen."
Another bright spot for the Sooners was the scoring presence of Ere. The senior has been mired in a slump that only the residents below the
Mendoza Line could relate to. His shooting stats weren't spectacular (5-of-14), but Kelvin Sampson refused to nitpick the Tulsan's performance.
"I thought Ebi attacked the basket a lot better," Sampson said. "It was hard for him not to take threes because he was so wide open. The thing that I really liked is that he got to the free throw line eight times. I was pleased with the way Ebi played."
Those searching for the main point in Oklahoma's struggles of late need look no farther than the foul trouble surrounding Quannas White. The zebras were on him in Waco on Saturday, and tonight's crew, led by Ed Hightower ('88 Title Game, UGH!), had itchy trigger fingers in regards to calling quick fouls on White. Quannas picked up two fouls within 10 seconds of each other at the 17:59 mark and headed to the bench. When he finally returned to the action six minutes later he needed only 30 seconds to pick up his third.
That concluded White's first half, and the man that Sampson described as the team's most important player finished the first half with only
two minutes of service. He picked up his fourth foul with 13:39 left and punched his ticket to Benchville. Truth be told, OU will struggle when
White plays only 12 minutes a game. When he was in the game, Oklahoma's offense seemed to click. When he was replaced at the point by Blake Johnston or Price, the team stalled. Look for White to stay out of foul trouble in the next few games.
Despite all of this, the game seemed to be heading towards a blowout early in the second half. A Kevin Bookout jumper with 17:43 to play put Oklahoma up 48-29, its largest lead of the game. Yet foul trouble and apparent exhaustion began to take its toll and the Aggies chipped and clawed away at the lead until the scoreboard read 68-61 with three minutes left.
A three-point attempt by Kevin Turner somehow rimmed out and Oklahoma rushed back down the floor to find a basket by Quannas White waiting for
them. Forty seconds later, Kevin Bookout added another bucket and OU led 72-61 and the crowd began to relax again.
Still, the late run left some of the Aggies brimming with confidence towards the rematch in College Station on March 1.
"They're a good team, No. 7 in the nation," said A&M's senior leader Bernard King. "I think they are good, but we can beat them. We will give them a better shot when we play them at A&M."
Aggie coach Melvin Watkins took many positives away from tonight's game. His squad has improved leaps and bounds over the team he inherited from Tony Barone before the 2000 season. Still, the thing he may be most elated about is he will never have to face Hollis Price in the Lloyd Noble Center again.
"It's time for him to move on," Watkins said. "It seems like he has been here for eight years."
Oklahoma will return to action this Saturday against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:45 at the Bramlage Coliseum, and the place should be electric. I'll be there, will you?
BMart's Player of the Game>
Hollis Price: 24 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks. The man just gets it done.
BMart's Play of the Game
Both of De'Angelo Alexander's treys in the ballgame will work for tonight. The Midwest City freshman is starting to lose his shyness on the floor. He took 12 shots tonight, and is beginning to assert himself into the offense more and more each game. He finished the night with 11 points and four rebounds.
BMart's Heartfelt Plea
Can we get a witch doctor to take off the curse that Miss Cleo cast upon Jabahri Brown? First, his friend passes away back home in the Virgin Islands, and then he partially tears the patella tendon in his left knee during warm-ups before the Baylor game in Waco. Just get some voodoo vixen to utter "Jabahri is Mighty" three times and weshould be fine. Get well soon, Jabbie.
OU-A&M Box Score
Price leads Sooners again in win over A&M
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