OU may not light it up from the 3-point line this season or lock teams down defensively, but there is one word that stands out when watching this team: athletic. Lon Kruger has a young group that is a feisty bunch, and do not seem to be very intimidated by the daunting challenge they face this season. As the Sooners improve every game this season, watch for Kruger and his squad to develop a target on their backs.
The Sooners opened the game with an aggressive mindset and continued their shooting streak. In the first five minutes of play, Oklahoma had 3 steals, shot 2-4 from the 3-point line and 40% from the field. A sloppy start by Khadeem Lattin was soon answered by an aggressive Jordan Woodard. Woodard accumulated three points, two rebounds and three assists quickly, with a sweet drive and kick to find Christian James in the corner for a 3-pointer. Woodard also knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in the beginning of this game. The Sooners applied some early full court man pressure, which allowed the OU to grab 3 steals in the first three minutes. The Sooners would begin the game with an 18-10 lead over Tulane. OU's aggressive play made the Green Wave start 1-7 from the field, however these roles would soon reverse.
After a solid start to the game, some early substitutions allowed Tulane to climb back in the game and the Sooners to fall out of the groove they had established. After starting with a 18-10 lead with 13:17 to go in the half off of a Woodard 3-pointer, the Sooners would allow the Green Wave to go on a 16-4 run until the 6:19 mark. On that 16-4 run, the Sooners shot 2-12 from the field, had three turnovers and fouled Tulane five times.
Oklahoma answered with a 10-2 run of their own and established a 6 point lead over Tulane with 2:51 to play. Some highlight plays in this response were Matt Freeman knocking down a deep 3-pointer from deep with no hesitation at 3:56, a Kristian Doolittle and-one layup and the aggressiveness of the Sooners to get to the free throw line and knock down four free throws.
The Sooners only carried a 3-point lead going into the second half, after a half buzzer beater made by Julien for Tulane. Rashard Odomes lead the Sooners in scoring at the half with seven points, grabbed three rebounds and two steals. Woodard had a very solid first half with six points, four rebounds and four assists. James only had five points at half and shot 2-6 from the field. Lattin got into foul trouble and only had four points and two rebounds at half, with only playing 11 minutes. Oklahoma finished the half shooting 40% from the field and 33.3% from the 3-point line. OU showed some serious aggression of getting to the bucket, but seemed to get into trouble when heavily contested. The Sooners and the Green Wave both had eight turnovers in the first half, but Oklahoma had one more steal. OU won the rebound battle by four and had two more assist than Tulane.
The second half did not start in the Sooners favor, as Reynolds blocked an Odomes layup and Tulane went on a 5-0 run to take the lead 40-38. With 18:29 to go, Tulane pushed their lead to four before the Sooners went into cruise control. Doolittle would have a nice jumper to tie up the game with a little over 17 minutes to go, and an and-one at the 14:50 minute mark to go up by seven points. OU would go on a 22-5 run to establish a 61-48 lead over Tulane with 11:00 minutes to go. A great sign for the Sooners came at the 11:00 minute mark when Freeman sank another 3-pointer from the top of the key. The closest this game would be in the final 11 minutes would be a seven-point game at the 9:17 minute-mark and the 8:33 minute mark. Oklahoma began to assert themselves throughout the second half and put on a highlight reel doing it.
With 4:42 to go in the game, Jordan Woodard found Odomes beyond half court for an alley-oop layup to give the Sooners a 15-point lead. Jamuni McNeace had a monster put-back dunk off of the Jordan Woodard missed layup over Ryan Smith. Lastly, Lattin gave James an alley-oop, which James was able to finish with authority.
Oklahoma returned to its' streaky shooting in the second half, posting an impressive 66.7 field goal percentage and 80.0 percent from the 3-point line in the second half. Woodard put the Sooners on his back in the second half, accumulating 16 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals. He finished the game with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Odomes (8 points), James (7 points) and Lattin (6 points) all had a solid second half. James finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. Odomes was the surprise of the game for the Sooners, accumulating 15 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Despite never facing in college basketball, Lon Kruger and Mike Dunleavy Sr. coached against each other twice in the NBA. The series was split before tonight, but Kruger and his squad were able to claim the all-time series advantage between the two after their 89-70 victory. The Sooners will now face the highest-ranked scoring defense in the nation in Northern Iowa on Friday of the Tire Pros Invitational. The game will be at 6:00 PM CT and will be televised on ESPNU.