No. 6 Oklahoma 84, No. 18 Missouri 71

Tuesday, January 22nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ It turns out Kelvin Sampson had nothing to worry about.

Sampson, concerned about whether his No. 6 Oklahoma basketball team would be able to rebound from a tough loss at Kansas on Saturday, saw the Sooners go on a late first-half run Monday night and coast past No. 18 Missouri 84-71.

``When you have this short of a turnaround, you're not as concerned with practicing as you're concerned with preparation,'' Sampson said. ``Missouri's a team that requires a lot of preparation because they have a good inside game and great perimeter players.''

The inside game was no factor, and only Clarence Gilbert was able to find his range from outside. Gilbert had eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points, but Kareem Rush had just 13 on 4-of-15 shooting.

``I thought our kids did a great job of guarding him and maybe we caught him on an off night,'' Sampson said.

Meanwhile Hollis Price scored 24 and the Sooners (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) outrebounded Missouri 43-26. They also forced 18 turnovers in beating the Tigers (14-5, 4-2) for the eighth straight time.

``You have to be strong and tough and the guys were weak with the ball,'' Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. ``We have to have some guys step up. We need Kareem to be stronger and he knows that.''

Price started slowly, but the scoring of Quannas White and Daryan Selvy kept the Sooners going. Then three 3-pointers by Gilbert in just over four minutes gave the Tigers a 23-19 lead with 6:51 left in the half.

A follow shot by Aaron McGhee started an Oklahoma run that saw the Sooners hit 10 straight shots and score on their final 11 possessions before halftime to take a 44-31 lead. Price hit two 3-pointers and scoring 10 during the run, when the Sooners forced four of Missouri's 18 turnovers and converted them all into baskets.

``I just let the game come to me,'' Price said. ``They passed me the ball and the ball was just falling tonight. You can't ask for more.''

Sampson said his team is tough to beat when it gets into that kind of groove _ six players scored during the run.

``The thing I liked about that is lot of those shots weren't coming out of our offense, they were coming off transition,'' he said. ``Our defense was leading to our offense.''

Oklahoma scored on its first three trips of the second half, capped by a Price 3-pointer that made the score 51-35. The Sooners pushed the margin to 18 a few minutes later and didn't let Missouri get closer than 11 after that.

White scored 14 and had six assists, McGhee had 13 points and eight rebounds and Selvy scored 12 for Oklahoma. Gilbert and Rush were the only Missouri players in double figures.

``The difference in them today and six weeks ago is they're playing more inside out,'' Sampson said of Missouri. ``I think that's a good move for them because Arthur Johnson can score. We really attacked him hard on the double team.

``You take something away, you give something up. Gilbert got away from us a couple times and made us play, but I thought our defensive effort was good.''