Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
Oklahoma struggled mightily for stretches against Texas-Arlington, but ultimately found a way to win a tough one.
It certainly wasn't pretty, far from it at times, but Oklahoma went on the road for just their second game of the young season and fought out a tough 63-59 victory. The Sooners started the game ice cold and repeatedly gave the ball away which lead to a quick nine point deficit. However, Oklahoma did not panic and used some lockdown defense (as well as some very sloppy play from the Mavericks) to help erase that UTA lead.
Fortunately, true freshman Buddy Hield came off the bench white hot and helped shoot Oklahoma back into the game. He would put up 14 of his game high 17 points in the first half and OU would need all of them. As things began to settle down as the first half progressed, Oklahoma started to pull away and appeared to be in control after a 22-1 run late in the half. In fact, they would take a comfortable ten point lead into halftime.
The Sooners extended their lead to 17 points at the first television timeout in the second half, but that was about the point things began to unravel. Brutal shooting (24%) and ten turnovers in the second half allowed UTA to come all the way back to tie the game with 2:46 remaining on the clock.
Fortunately, senior Steven Pledger came up with a huge three pointer on a critical possession to give Oklahoma a lead they would not relinquish. Pledger and Je'lon Hornbeak would hit three of four free throws to seal the victory for the Sooners.
It might have been more difficult than they would have liked, but this game will be a good learning experience for a team still learning how to play with one another. Winning a game like this would help them much more than had they easily cruised to a double digit victory. This is a team that needs to be tested and they got that Friday night in Arlington.
A couple quick hitters:
- Romero Osby finished with his first of likely many double-doubles (10 points, 11 rebounds) and was dominant at times in the second half.
- Little bit of a disappointing game from Amath M'Baye. Somewhat afraid that with all the hype some fans' expectations might be a little too high for the newcomer. He, much like the OU offense in general, is struggling in the half court offense.
- Andrew Fitzgerald has to be much better this season than he was Friday night. He was virtually non-existent in this game and that can't happen as his scoring off the bench was sorely missed.
- The point guard position is certainly a work in progress. Sam Grooms looks to be struggling with his transition coming off the bench and Isaiah Cousins needs to be much more aggressive on the offensive end. Cousins did not even register a field goal attempt or a single assist in the game.