Old Spice Classic: Oklahoma 68, UTEP 61 In A Bad Case Of The Runs

Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The game played host to a bad case of the runs for both squads. While UTEP was able to make it interesting late in the second half, it was the Sooners who would prevail 68-61.

In the first half, the Oklahoma Sooners would jump out to a quick start finding themselves with a 15-0 lead early over the UTEP Miners. Oklahoma was playing a flawless game in the first whileLon Kruger's group scored on 6 of the first 7 offensive possessions.

It all started with Romero Osby as he scored the first four points for the Sooners, both assisted by Isaiah Cousins. Osby finding points early sparked a defensive change for UTEP as they began to roll a double team toward him, something that continued into the second half. However, this move would open up things for Andrew Fitzgerald inside as well as Amath M'baye in space.

Before the half was all said and done, the Miners would find a rhythm of their own pulling to within five on a 9-0 run of their own. But, it was the Sooners who found themselves weathering the storm to put a 9-2 run on UTEP to close out the half with a 38-26 lead thanks to an 11-2 fast break advantage.

Oklahoma shot 55% to UTEP's 38% while the Sooners won the rebounding margin like expected 20-13. Osby led all scorers with 10 points and 5 rebounds at the break.

At the start of the second half, Oklahoma would begin to once again let the UTEP Miners work their way back into the game lead by none other than Jaques Streeter and sixth man John Bohannon. Yet, Coach Tim Floyd would be back to his usual antics. In the first 12 minutes of the second half, UTEP employed several different defenses including the box-and-1 along with the triangle-and-2 to key in on the likes of Osby and Buddy Hield as the Sooners saw a dramatic drop in shooting percentage.

The defensive schemes proved to be fairly effective as they continued to let the Miners hang around and stopped Oklahoma from putting the game away. The problem? Oklahoma's knack for excelling in transition while forgetting to pull it out and set up the half court offense to eat up the clock. Couple that with a sudden spurt of UTEP finding themselves at the charity stripe as well as getting points in transition and we had the perfect storm.

The final four minutes would prove trivial for Lon Kruger and Co. as the Miners employed a full court press to come up with the steal after a big three pointer to cut the lead to a single digit figure. The runs would continue as it was the Miners turn which turned this game into an interesting outcome.

However, it was Steven Pledger who provided the dagger in the clutch with a huge 3-pointer to put the Sooners up by seven while seconds later having the Miners' big man Bohannon foul out.

Romero Osby was the player of the game collecting 16 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with 4 assists and 2 blocks. This is a team that is capable of picking up the slack from multiple positions as we once again saw a shift back to the bigs. Oklahoma will play the winner of the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers tomorrow.

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