ALBANY, New York (Ticker) -- Ebi Ere broke out of his funk and the Price was right for Oklahoma as well.
Benched late in the season and playing with a broken bone in his non-shooting hand, Ere scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead top seed Oklahoma to a 65-54 victory over 12th-seeded Butler in the semifinals of the East Region.
A Final Four team a year ago, Oklahoma (27-6) will play third-seeded Syracuse in the regional final on Sunday.
"In the huddle before the game, coach said that someone needed to step up besides Hollis (Price) tonight," said Ere, who was 11-of-19 from the field. "I knew that Butler had a lot of guys smaller than me, so I tried to get to the hole and shoot it."
Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson benched a cold-shooting Ere late in the season and the 6-5 senior broke his wrist prior to practice in the Big 12 tournament. In five postseason games, he had averaged just 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds since suffering the injury.
But on Friday, Ere was too quick and athletic for Butler (27-6), the lowest remaining seed in the tournament.
As a matter of the fact, so were most of the Sooners, who outrebounded Butler, 39-21, including 19 off the offensive glass.
Freshman Kevin Bookout did damage inside with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds and Jabahri Brown grabbed 11 rebounds.
"We felt we could exploit Butler on the offensive boards," Sampson said. "We had three kids who played huge for us tonight - Ebi Ere, Kevin Bookout and Jabahri Brown. Each one of them played outstanding in their own individual areas tonight."
While Oklahoma used its size and athleticism to its advantage, Sampson had a perfect game plan for Butler's offense, which runs motions and screens to free up its 3-point shooters.
Darnell Archey hit 8-of-9 3-pointers in Butler's upset of fourth-seeded Louisville in the second round, but was hounded by Price most of the day and took just five shots and was 1-of-3 from 3-point range.
Price has been bothered by a pulled left groin and scored a total of eight points in the Sooners' first two NCAA Tournament games. But he declared himself "99.9 percent" ready for Friday's game and displayed his lateral quickness on defense. Price also finished with 12 points, seven below his season average, on 5-of-16 shooting.
Overall, the Bulldogs were 4-of-13 from beyond the arc.
"We just tried not to give them any good looks from the 3-point line," Oklahoma guard Quannas White said. "They're a great 3-point shooting team, and we tried to stop them from getting shots. We did a great job defending them."
Point guard Brandon Miller, Butler's leading scorer, had just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting. He started the Bulldogs' NCAA Tournament ride with a game-winning shot with six seconds left in a first-round upset of fifth-seeded Mississippi State.
Senior center Joel Cornette tried to carry the Bulldogs with 21 points and eight rebounds in his last college game.
"When we walked off the court, I told Joel 'I loved him, you tried, you carried us,'" Miller said. "I give credit to Oklahoma for playing a great game. They took away our jump shot."
But Ere hit more than his share of jumpers for Oklahoma.
"I knew he (Ere) had it from the first shot he took," Price said. "He penetrated, jumped high and elevated over everyone. Every time he drove to the basket, he made something good happen for us."
When Oklahoma closed the first half with a 12-3 run, Ere ignited the spurt with a rebound basket and followed with a 3-pointer from the right side.
After Bookout scored inside to increase Oklahoma's lead to 27-20, Cornette converted a three-point play for Butler with 1:41 left in the half. But Ere ended the half with a pair of jumpers in the lane, giving the Sooners a 32-23 halftime advantage.
A basket by Ere gave Oklahoma its biggest lead at 38-26 with 16:34 left.
But Cornette highlighted a 17-9 run later in the half, pulling the Bulldogs within 50-47. Mike Monserez capped it with a 3-pointer with 6:14 remaining, but Ere responded with a three-point play and a layup, increasing the lead to 55-47 with 5:19 left.
Butler closed to 57-52 on a 3-pointer by Lewis Curry with 2:58 left, but White converted a pair of free throws and Bookout made a layup with 1:02 left to virtually seal the win.