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Thursday, March 27, 2003
Price's health 'X factor' against Butler

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Watch out Butler, Oklahoma's Hollis Price says he's healthy again and ready to go all out in Friday's East Regional semifinal.

Price took part in a spirited 50-minute practice Thursday, running, passing, dribbling and cutting with no apparent pain from a left groin injury that hampered him in the Sooners' first two games of the NCAA tournament.

"It's good ... probably 99.9 percent," Price, smiling throughout the session, said.

Despite Price's limited production -- eight points in 41 minutes -- the Sooners advanced to a matchup against surprising Butler with wins over South Carolina State and California.

Apart from easing back during stretching exercises at the start of practice, Price didn't let up during the rest of the drills. The Big 12 player of the year averaged 18.5 points during the season.

"Starting with yesterday's practice he's moving a whole lot better and he's jumping a lot higher on his shot," teammate Ebi Ere said.

Quannas White said his backcourt partner is set for an all-out effort against the Bulldogs.

"I could see it in his eyes," White said after practice. "He said he's 99.9 percent. I think he's 100 percent more than that."

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson wasn't so sure. He called Price's injury the ``X-factor'' in what could be a decisive matchup -- Price and White against Butler's 3-point shooters Brandon Miller and Darnell Archey.

"The Hollis Price that we had up until the Big 12 championship, I wouldn't trade him for anybody," Sampson said. "But obviously he's not 100 percent."

Butler is preparing for a healthy Price.

"We're not concerned with his condition," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "We assume he'll be 100 percent, and we know how dangerous he is. To not prepare that way would not be wise."



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