Wildcats Knocked Out By Oklahoma, 88-67

March 21, 2002

By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Superstition gave Hollis Price his new hands andOklahoma its chance to advance.

Price, off target during the pregame warmups, had 26 points and aseason-high six 3-pointers as Oklahoma beat Arizona 88-67 Thursday night in theWest Regional semifinals.

'I've got a superstition. If I'm not hitting in warmups, I'll come in thelocker room, and I'll wash my hands,' Price said. 'I came out with a new setof hands.'

Second-seeded Oklahoma (30-4) will play the winner of the game between UCLAand Missouri in the Sooners' first regional final since 1988.

Third-seeded Arizona (24-10), which lost to Duke in last year's NCAAchampionship game, could not overcome the Sooners' tough defense or Price,whose accurate outside shooting kept Oklahoma in it early before a sustainedsecond-half rally.

'In the end I don't think there was any question,' Arizona coach LuteOlson said. 'Oklahoma was quicker and a whole lot more explosive.'

Jason Gardner, probably playing his last college game, led the Wildcats with14 points. Luke Walton, the son of former UCLA and NBA great Bill Walton, hadnine points and eight assists.

With Duke's loss to Indiana on Thursday, both participants in last season'sfinal were knocked out within 30 minutes.

Aaron McGhee finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma, with19 points in the final 7 minutes as the Sooners turned a close game into ablowout.

The Wildcats singled him out after he averaged 25.5 points and 8.5 reboundsin the Sooners' first two tournament games.

'When I was on the inside, I wasn't really hitting anything,' McGhee said.'It was like there was a lid on the basket.'

Arizona apparently forgot about Price.

'Early in the game he was feeling his shot - and you can't let a playerlike that get his stroke on,' Walton said.

Oklahoma jumped out to an 8-2 lead, as Price made two 3-pointers. But theSooners went scoreless for more than five minutes, and the Wildcats narrowedthe gap before taking a 10-8 lead on Rick Anderson's jumper.

The Wildcats shut down McGhee, and Oklahoma had to rely on its perimetershooting. Price carried the Sooners, with 22 of their 33 points beforehalftime.

The Wildcats took a 28-23 lead on freshman Will Bynum's acrobatic layup with5:31 to go, and the Wildcats stretched their lead to as many as seven points onthe way to a 37-33 halftime edge.

'I was really disappointed with our competitiveness in the first half,'Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. 'I got into them a little bit at halftime.I said, 'This isn't about winning and losing. This is about our identity.'You're always known for something, and in the first half, we didn't do thethings we're known for.'

Price made a mistake when he lost the ball at midcourt, and Gardner snatchedit up as it rolled toward Arizona's basket. Gardner outran Price for the basketand got fouled to give the Wildcats a 44-40 lead.

But the Sooners went on an 11-0 run, capped by Ebi Ere's 3-pointer, to go up51-44. They were able to slow down the speedy Wildcats during the spurt, andkept the game at their pace throughout the rest of the half.

'We've had a lot of games where we've had to battle,' Olson said, 'and inthis one we got out-quicked and out-fought in the second half.'

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