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NCAA - East

Newcomers take stage for Sooners

©Associated Press

March 23, 2003


OKLAHOMA CITY -- A couple of freshmen helped make sure Oklahoma senior Hollis Price gets to keep playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Kevin Bookout scored a career-high 22 and De'Angelo Alexander had 15 as the No. 1 seed reached the East Region semifinals with a 74-65 win over No. 8 California.

Price, the Big 12 player of the year, has a left groin injury. After playing 11 minutes in the first round against South Carolina State, he logged 30 Saturday and had three points.

"We have a lot of good players on this team," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "The mark of a good team is that other players step up when given an opportunity.

"De'Angelo and Bookout, those guys came through."

Oklahoma, which reached the Final Four a year ago, faces Louisville or Butler Friday in Albany, N.Y.

Bookout played nine minutes Thursday because of strep throat and he failed to score. He felt much better Saturday.

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward had 11 points in the first half, then had three baskets in a 9-0 run at the start of the second half that gave Oklahoma (26-6) control for good at 42-24.

"I think Kevin just came out with a lot of confidence today," Sooners point guard Quannas White said. "He played like a sophomore or junior today, not like a freshman."

Sampson said the Sooners emphasized getting the ball inside against Cal's zone in the second half after not doing so in the first half. Bookout was 5-of-7 from the field in the final 20 minutes.

The Bears (22-9) trailed 62-51 after seven consecutive points from Brian Wethers, who tied his career high with 27 points. But a jumper by Alexander, a three-point play by Bookout and an alley-oop dunk by Johnnie Gilbert made it 69-51 with 3:58 left.

A 10-0 run by Cal cut the margin to eight with 1:32 to go, but the Bears got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

"Oklahoma plays consistently, and they play tough," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "You've got to be consistent. You can't have lulls."

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