ALBANY, New York (Ticker) -- Hollis Price hopes to be healthy enough to make a contribution for top-seeded Oklahoma on Friday night when it plays 12th seeded Butler in the semifinals of the East Region.
Price, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is not practicing this week due to a strained left groin suffered in the Big 12 tournament final. He is receiving treatment each day and hopes to be close to 95 percent healthy on Friday.
Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson has said that he needs Price in order for his team to reach the Final Four for a second straight year.
Oklahoma (26-6) moved into the regionals with a 74-65 victory over California in the second round. Price played 30 minutes, but took just three shots and finished with five points.
Kevin Bookout scored a season-high 22 points and fellow freshman De'Angelo Alexander added 15 as the two newcomers helped pick up the slack for their struggling teammate. Quannas White scored 12 points as the Sooners shot 51 percent.
The Sooners never have reached regional finals in back-to-back years.
Butler (27-5) has beaten consecutive ranked teams after Darnell Archey's hot shooting performance in a 79-71 second-round victory over Louisville. Archey nailed all six 3-pointers in the second half and matched a career high with 26 points for the Bulldogs.
Jordan Cornette, Duane Lightfoot Jr. and Mike Monserez all scored 14 points for Butler, which overcame a poor start in which it fell behind by 15 points in the first 10 minutes. Point guard Brandon Miller had a solid floor game with six assists for Butler, which made 14-of-22 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs may be forced to play a style similar to the one used in their first-round upset of Mississippi State. Butler held the ball for good portions of their possessions in order to keep the score down and Miller's runner with six seconds to go was the game-winner in a 47-46 triumph.
Cornette has been vocal in saying that part of his team's motivation is to make up for being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament last season with a 25-5 mark.
Sampson should be a bit familiar with Butler since Oklahoma was upset by the Bulldogs, 73-63, on November 28, 1997. That gave Butler a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The winner advances to meet Syracuse or Auburn in Sunday's regional final.