The Oklahoma Sooners bounced back from Friday night’s beating, with a 77-70 win over West Virginia, to take third place in the Old Spice Classic and improve to 4-1 on the season. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come in conference play this season. Oklahoma will face West Virginia twice more this year, as the Mountaineers enter their first season as a part of the conference.
Sam Grooms steadies the Sooner offense (Photo from Soonersports.com)
Amath M’Baye showed why he was voted Big 12 Newcomer of the Year this preseason, with a stellar performance highlighted by his 19 points on 5-6 shooting and 9-13 from the free throw line. The France native also added six rebounds and a block and steal apiece on the defensive end, and is the Sooner Player of the Game.
M’Baye wasn’t the only newcomer who showed flashes of potential for the Sooners. Freshman Jelon Hornbeak finished with 14 points on 5-9 shooting tonight, while grabbing five rebounds and also contributing two steals. Both performances shedding light on the current, as well as future state of Sooner hoops.
Despite allowing West Virginia to jump out to an early lead, the Sooners maintained control for much of the first half. M’Baye made his presence felt early with a couple of quick buckets, and the Sooners saw their lead increase to as many as 12 before settling for a five-point halftime advantage.
In the second half the Sooners were tested, as they saw their lead dwindle down to zero. However, it was M’Baye and Hornbeak to the rescue. The two kept their composure and calmly knocked down a few clutch baskets, sparking a 13-5 run that inevitably sealed the outcome of the game.
Overall, the Sooners looked light years ahead of where they were Friday evening. Oklahoma shot the ball much better than in their previous performance, shooting 47% from the field and 76% from the free throw line. They also regained control of the boards, taking advantage of an undersized West Virginia team to win the rebounding battle 38-36.
Mistakes were kept to a minimum. Oklahoma only turned it over a total of 10 times and Isaiah Cousins and Sam Grooms combined for six assists and zero miscues.
Depth was there for Oklahoma too. The bench combined for a total of 28 points and nine different Sooners scored tonight. Senior Andrew Fitzgerald was especially key for the Sooners, contributing nine points and knocking down a couple of clutch baskets late in the game to help the Sooners push towards the win.
Next up for the Sooners will travel to Tulsa on Wednesday to face in-state foe Oral Roberts. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CST.
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