Oklahoma 74, California 65
-- With Oklahoma's top scorer Hollis Price ailing today, two freshmen made sure the Sooners would still be playing after getting time to recover.
De'Angelo Alexander and Kevin Bookout combined to score exactly half of top-seeded Oklahoma's points in a 74-65 romp past No. 8 seed California before a pro-Sooners crowd of 18,462 at Ford Center.
The victory guarantees the Sooners (26-6) a second straight trip to the round of 16, in which they will face the winner of Sunday's East Region game between fourth-seeded Louisville and No. 12 seed Butler. That game will be Friday in Albany, N.Y., giving Price nearly a week to recover from a left groin strain.
Bookout had a career-high 22 points, and his fellow Oklahoma native and AAU teammate Alexander had 15 to help pick up the slack from Price, who scored only five points in 30 minutes.
"This says a lot about our basketball team," Oklahoma Coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We don't depend on just one person. We've got other players besides Hollis. They really stepped up tonight."
Alexander, from nearby Midwest City, has a combined 31points in his only two NCAA tournament games and has made six of his nine three-point attempts. Tonight, he also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds (five offensive). Quannas White added 12 points.
Oklahoma, which has won 15 of its last 17 postseason games, made 7 of its 13 three-point shots (54 percent) and dominated the Golden Bears, 18-6, in second-chance points.
"I thought we struggled defensively," California Coach Ben Braun said. "They really hurt us inside [with Bookout]. They're a tough and tested group. They came out early, made stops, were patient and got good looks."
Without a healthy Price, the Sooners bolted to a 33-24 halftime advantage, then opened the first two and a half minutes of the second half with nine straight points.
Bookout, himself recovering from strep throat, led the charge with back-to-back layups, followed by a three-pointer by White.
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," rasped Bookout, a power forward from Stroud, Okla., pop. 2,666, located about an hour away. "He just gave me a lot of energy."
Behind a 9-0 burst, California (22-9) cut Oklahoma's lead to 44-33 with 13 minutes 59 seconds left , but the Sooners responded with a 9-2 surge, highlighted by a three-pointer by Ebi Ere.
Still, the Golden Bears wouldn't go quietly. During the next 3 minutes 16 seconds, Brian Wethers, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior swingman, scorched several Oklahoma defenders, including Price, for 12 points en route to scoring 27 points, tying a career-high.
"They're the toughest team we've faced all year," said Wethers, who finished his last collegiate game 11 of 18 from the field, but missed 4 of 7 free throws. "We fought pretty well, but they stayed on top. Toughness made the difference [today]."
Joe Shipp, also playing his last game, added 20 points on a 9-of-17 effort from the field, for the Golden Bears. Amit Tamir, a 6-11 sophomore, who entered the game averaging 15.4 points, had a season-low one point.