Invited to take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Oklahoma Sooners are making the most of the situation. Facing a ranked opponent, Buddy Hield led the charge in his home country as the crimson and cream recorded a double digit win over the #22 UCLA Bruins. The occasion marked the second time on the day that a ranked squad found themselves relegated to the consolation side of the bracket.
In the first half, the Sooners quickly jumped out to 5-0 start but the length and athleticism of the Bruins showed up shortly after. Consistently moving from a zone to man defense, UCLA found a way to keep OU outside of the paint and away from the rim. The result forced Oklahoma into taking a majority of their shots from beyond the arc. To be exact, 38 shots were fired up from range while only 10 of those attempts found the bottom of the net. Fortunately, the Sooners gained a five point lead, 32-27 going into the locker room.
To start the second half, the focus shifted. Solid rebounds from Ryan Spangler who finished with 10 boards, led to transition buckets. At one point, Hield sparked a 10-0 run on his own. In a homecoming of sorts, the star guard poured in 24 points to lead all scorers.
As frustration began to show, fouls racked up on a thin Bruins starting lineup forcing inexperienced players onto the court. The foul trouble opened things up for TaShawn Thomas in the paint as he made smart plays at the rim.
Although Oklahoma shot poorly to the tune of 32.8% from the field, the defense cracked down holding the Bruins 30 points shy of their average. However, Bryce Alford consistently made difficult shot after difficult shot to keep UCLA in teh fight. He finished with a team high 19 points.
The stat of the game remains the fact that UCLA was 9-of-21 from the charity stripe as the Bruins' length gave them an edge, 51-43, in the rebound margin. Teams have to make free throws if they hope to win against quality competition.
Tomorrow, Oklahoma continues their pursuit of a championship in the Bahamas as they face the Butler Bulldogs at Noon CST.