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Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2003 7:45 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(3) Oklahoma 69, Texas A&M 64
OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Oklahoma Sooners
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TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Texas A&M Aggies
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Ticker) -- Oklahoma may be inconsistent away from home, but Hollis Price seems to remain consistent wherever he plays.

Price scored 23 points and led a strong effort from beyond the arc as the third-ranked Sooners held on for a 69-64 Big 12 Conference victory over Texas A&M.

A senior point guard, Price has been a steady influence all season for the Sooners, who entered off of Wednesday's 67-52 loss at Missouri, a game which coach Kelvin Sampson said he had no explanation for the poor performance.

"We are most proud of being 5-3 on the road," Sampson said. "That is very significant in this league. This year is the best the Big 12 has ever been. For us to go 5-3, I'm very proud."

Price led the way again Saturday, scoring 14 points in the opening half for the Sooners (20-5, 11-3), who remained tied with Texas in the conference standings, one game behind first-place Kansas.

Price finished 8-of-13 from the floor and went 4-of-5 from 3-point range. As a team, the Sooners went 9-of-17 from the arc.

"Hollis doesn't get enough credit for every aspect of his game," Sampson said. "That's why I think he's the best player in the league. Hollis, as good as he was on offense today, he was even better on defense."

Ebi Ere added 12 points for Oklahoma, which led by as many as 17 points in the second half before the Aggies crawled to within three in the waning seconds. But Price made two foul shots with 7.3 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Bernard King netted 16 points and Tomas Ress 11 for Aggies (13-12, 5-9), who have faded after it looked like they would contend for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Aggies have lost three straight and six of their last eight games.

"For us to beat a team like that, we have to be firing on all cylinders and we weren't today," Aggies coach Melvin Watkins said.

Playing its usually stifling defense, the Sooners held the Aggies to 33 percent (8-of-24) shooting in the first half as they built a 28-20 lead.

The Sooners continued to play well on defense in the second half and were more efficient on offense. They shot 54 percent (13-of-24) over the final 20 minutes.

Ere sank a pair of 3-pointers around a basket by King, giving the Sooners a 44-32 advantage with 10:58 remaining.

Oklahoma slowly pulled away, taking its biggest lead at 59-43 with just over four minutes remaining on two foul shots by freshman De'Angelo Alexander, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

But the Aggies began to play with urgency and scored six straight points. They got within eight points with under a minute left on a layup by Marcus Watkins, the coach's son, and got as close as 67-64 on King's 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play

"In the first half we came out too sluggish, but we fought hard in the second half," Ress said. "We just didn't have enough to pull it out. It was disappointing."

Kings, the leading scorer in Big 12 history, finished 5-of-11 from the field and handed out eight assists.


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