OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Top-seeded Oklahoma tries to overcome injury and illness and take advantage of the partisan crowd on Saturday when it hosts No. 8 California in the second round of the East Region.
Oklahoma (25-6) enters as a banged-up unit despite an easy 71-54 victory over South Carolina State in the first round. Leading scorer Hollis Price is suffering from a partially torn groin muscle that he injured in last week's Big 12 title game and freshman power forward Kevin Bookout has a case of strep throat.
In addition, Ebi Ere still has the lingering effects of a broken bone in his non-shooting left hand.
Despite those problems and going scoreless for nearly the first five minutes on Thursday, Oklahoma took advantage of South Carolina State's poor shooting to eventually win over the fans at the Ford Center, just 22 miles from campus.
Freshman De'Angelo Alexander scored 16 points and Blake Johnston added a career-high 15 as Oklahoma used its superior depth to wear down the Bulldogs. Price, the Big 12 Player of the Year, played just 11 minutes.
California (22-8) advanced with a 76-74 overtime victory over North Carolina State as freshman Richard Midgley nailed a 3-pointer off a feed from Joe Shipp. Shipp, the Pac-10 Conference's leading scorer, finished with 24 points to lead the Golden Bears.
While Oklahoma was a Final Four team a year ago, California has not advanced past the second round since 1997. The Golden Bears lost to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh in the second round last year.
"That is just the luck of the draw, or so they tell me," Golden Bears coach Ben Braun said. "We will have to deal with it. It is a challenge for our team."
Oklahoma leads the series, 2-1. The teams last met in 1999 when the Sooners posted a 75=58 victory in the championship of the Top of the World Classic.
The winner advances to a meeting against Louisville or Butler in Albany, New York on Friday.