The Oklahoma Sooners are half way to what many consider to be the magic number in order to receive an NCAA Tournament Bid. For the first time since the 2008-09 season, Lon Kruger and his squad find themselves sitting at 10-1 after a nail-bitter inside the Lloyd Noble Center against the UT-Arlington Mavericks.
It was a good win, a fortunate win. I thought UTA did a terrific job of hanging in there close enough all night long and making shots to keep within reach and catch us there late. It was a good opportunity for us to work on some things. We haven't been in that late-game situation a lot -- not that we wanted to be there -- but as it turned out we were and I thought our guys handled both the defensive end and offensive end pretty well late. - Lon Kruger
After building a double-digit lead not once but twice, the Sooners were caught from behind. With just over six minutes left in regulation, UTA tied the ball game at 81-81 on a dunk by Brandon Edwards. Once again, Oklahoma would attempt to take control of the game leading 87-83 at that point. However, UTA thwarted their foe an found themselves knotted up at 89 a piece with 41.8 seconds on the clock.
Lon Kruger made the call to waste clock as his team held the ball. Finally, Cameron Clark slashed toward the hoop and drew a foul. The ensuing free throw attempts would prove to be the game winners as Clark sank both of them to go up 91-89.
To echo Lon Kruger's sentiments in the post game interview in that this is a team that played well during crunch time. A roster crowded with youngsters usually finds themselves on the losing end of such struggles.
As a team, Oklahoma shot the ball well especially when the pace of the game is factored in. On 64 total field goal attempts, the Sooners connected on 32 of them for a 50% conversion rate. What may have come as a surprise to fans was how well OU shot the ball from range going 11-for-23. Where Lon Kruger's squad really shined was on the glass with 14 offensive and 25 defensive boards.
The Sooners struggled to get to the free throw line as consistently as they had in the past. Leading up to this game, OU averaged 29.7 attempts from the charity stripe per game. On the evening, Oklahoma put up just 23 attempts, a number that will need to remain in the upper twenties once conference play hits.
Fans have to question why Tyler Neal received just five minutes of playing time after a stellar performance in Oklahoma's previous game. Instead it was Frank Booker who snatched up the majority of the minutes off the bench with 17 as each of the starters played 30+ during the 40 minute outing Depth remains a concern when the going gets tough. A mere 14 points were scored off the bench tonight.
Oklahoma Sooners: Cameron Clark was up to his usual antics as he poured in 31 points to lead all scorers. On 11-of-18 shooting, Clark found his biggest moment at the charity stripe with the clock winding down to give Oklahoma the go ahead FTs.
UT-Arlington Mavericks: Reger Dowell led the charge for his team with 30 points and 4 assists. As the season wears on, many will begin to question why he wasn't a bigger part of the game at Oklahoma St if they haven't questioned that already.
Three others finished with 11 or more points for UTA: Anthony Walker (11), Brandon Edwards (12), and Jamel Outler (17).
The Sooners will take to the road for the first time in a long while to play Texas A&M on Saturday, December 21st at 6:00 PM CST.
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