The Sooners assembled an all-around solid effort against the Northwestern State Demons. Lon and his crew were able to bounce back from an average performance against the Washburn Ichabods. This team has shown some depth throughout the lineup, and this will be much needed down the stretch of the season.
The Sooners began the game attacking on all cylinders. Jordan Woodard, clearly frustrated with his slow start in the exhibition game, drove to the bucket and got his first four points from the free throw line. OU clearly wanted to establish their aggressiveness from the tip of this one, as they opened the game with full court pressure and forcing a Demons' turnover.
After a Khadeem Lattin dunk off of some good ball movement, Zeek Woodley stopped the Sooners' run with a made jumper. However, after scoring only 1:10 into the game, Northwestern State would not score again until 13:04 to go into the half with a jumper made by Ishmael Lane, allowing the Sooners going on a 14-0 run. That 14-0 run consisted of two free throws for Woodard, a 3-pointer for Christian James, a 3-pointer and a dunk by Kristian Doolittle and layups from Rashard Odomes and Lattin. One of the highlights of this run consisted of the turnover forced by the Sooners, which led to Woodard hitting Doolittle down the court for a slam dunk with 17:43 to go in the half.
Oklahoma played 11 different players throughout the first half, and the Oklahoma bench showed some of its' talent and potential off of a Jordan Shepherd alley-oop pass to Jamuni McNeace for the slam. Nine of the 11 players that played throughout the half scored, and this is the type of production the Sooners will need to be successful throughout the year.
From 6:02 to 4:23, the Demons went on a 7-0 run before Lattin stopped it with a tip-in. OU continued to keep their foot on the pedal, and finished the half on a 9-3 run, pushing their lead to 20. Lattin lead the team at the half in points (11), rebounds (8) and blocks (2). Woodard scored more in the first half than he did in the entire exhibition game with nine points and added three rebounds and one assist. Christian James contributed with seven points, a rebound and an assist.
The Sooners shot lights out from the floor with an impressive 53.1 field goal percentage. They were 5-11 from the 3-point line, with five different players making one 3-pointer each. They limited Northwestern State to only three second-chance points, however they gave up six offensive rebounds. The OU defense forced the Demons to 17 turnovers, but Oklahoma gave up 14 themselves.
Lon and his crew did not slow down after halftime. In fact, the Sooners opened up the second half shooting 7-8 from the floor. One of these shots, a 3-pointer made by Matt Freeman, helped him get into a groove for the half. Freeman, who only had three points at half, led the team in scoring in the second half with 12 points. For the whole game, Freeman went 3-4 from the 3-point line, a rebound, a steal and a couple of dunks to show off his athletic ability. In the broadcast, the commentators discussed how Freeman had been there since 7:30 AM, showing his dedication and drive.
With about 10:30 to go in the half, Darrion Strong-Moore showed his ability to get to the bucket with a nice driving layup. This was shortly followed by a 3-pointer made by Jordan Bell at 9:50. The second half MVP, Freeman, would soon be able to show off in front of his parents who made the trip to Norman from New Zealand, with steal and a dunk with 9:23 left in the half. This pushed the Sooners' lead to 23, which is 15 points shy of what the deficit ended up being (38).
Some other notable performances in the second half consisted of Jamuni McNeace, who had two points, five rebounds and three very impressive blocks. McNeace would finish with six points, six rebounds and three blocks. Lattin had another strong half with accumulating eight points and three rebounds. He ended the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Woodard bounced back from an uncharacteristic performance in the exhibition game, and he accumulated 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. Christian James had a solid performance of 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. However, the player that stepped up off the bench was Matt Freeman with 15 points. Other contributors consisted of Strong-Moore (9 points), Shepherd (8 points), McNeace (6 points), Doolittle (5 points), Odomes (4 points) and Kameron McGusty (3 points).
The Sooners put up an impressive 58.7 field goal percentage throughout the whole game. They had six different players make a 3-pointer, and ended 9-18 on the game. They lead the game for 39:47 of the entire game, and were only tied for 13 seconds. They grabbed nine more rebounds than Northwestern State, however they allowed the Demons to have three more offensive rebounds. Northwestern State just played an A&M team that posted nine blocks against them, and the Sooners kept that momentum going with blocking seven of their shots in the game.
The Sooners begin the season with a 97-61 win. They seemed to get out some of the early season jitters in the exhibition game, and were able to give some quality minutes to new players. Oklahoma is now 6-0 against the Northwestern State Demons. Their next game will be Thursday, November 16 when they fly to Orlando to face Tulane in the "Pro Tires Invitational."