The Sooners faced a Washburn team that had already faced some serious competition in the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats, but they were able to come out on top by a score of 84-64.
The Ichabods outrebounded the Jayhawks in Allen Field House earlier in the preseason, and were also able to outscore the Wildcats in the second half despite losing both of these games. Bob Chipman, coaching in his last season with Washburn, wanted to give the Sooners a test on this Tuesday night, and they did.
The Sooners began the game with the expected lineup of Jordan Woodard at point guard, Christian James and Rashard Odomes as shooting guards, followed up with Kristian Doolittle at forward and Khadeem Lattin at center.
The Sooners looked to attack the paint to start the game by dumping the ball down to Lattin two possessions in a row. Lattin drew a foul on the first play, followed up by a made bucket giving OU a 2-0 lead.
The Sooners were able to get out into the open court and hit James in transition, where he would go to the line and make it 4-0 to start the game. The Sooners looked best in transition throughout the first half, but ironically they accounted for only 5 fast break points during the half. The Sooners also displayed some early defensive pressure with Doolittle trapping at halfcourt, but this hurt the Sooners some possessions leaving open shooters, who tended to miss these shots (good thing we are playing Washburn).
Matt Freeman, the New Zealand native, made his first Sooner appearance after the first media timeout, substituting for Doolittle. This was soon followed by an appearance by Jamuni McNeace, and career debuts for Jordan Shepherd and Cameron McGusty.
McNeace showed his insane, athletic ability with launching a shot off the court, but McGusty will be credited with taking the charge on that play.
Cameron McGusty gave the Sooners some life from the outside making a three with 9:32 to go in the half, ending the drought of 5 missed threes to start the game.
The Sooners struggled to keep the Ichabods in front of them on the defensive end of the court. This is a prevalent issue that the Sooners seem to have year in and year out. Ogbonna was able to take advantage of this weakness and attacked the Sooners to make a layup with 8:23 to go in the half to give the Ichabods the first lead of the half.
The Sooners responded to this with a three from Woodard. However, Smith for the Ichabods would go on a 4-0 run by himself to recapture the lead 24-22 with 6:27 to go.
The lead would change three times before the Darrion Strong show would begin. Strong, a junior college transfer, benefitted from Woodard needing to be subbed out due to cramps. Strong came in and gave the Sooners a much-needed boost off the bench with two three-pointers and two free throws, along with one assist in four minutes.
This performance by Strong allowed the Sooners to go into the half with a one-point lead. The Sooners were fortunate to have the shooting of Strong beyond the arc, because without him they were 4/14 from three (6/16 with Strong, or 37.5%). James had a strong first half with leading the team in minutes (17), points (11), tied with Lattin for rebounds (5), and tied with Woodard for steals (2). Woodard went into the half with 7 pts, 4 rebounds and 2 steals but surprisingly had no assists. Strong had a great performance off the bench as well in very little time. The Sooners ended the half sloppily, only holding a 1-point lead over the Ichabods.
The Sooners opened the second half with James knocking down a free throw, and two Lattin jumpers to give the Sooners a 47-43 lead with 16:52 to go. However, the Ichabods answered this with a 7-0 run of their own to regain the lead and make it 50-47 with 15 minutes to go in the game.
Lattin stopped the bleeding with an offensive rebound and layup to cut the deficit to one point with 14:13 to play. A James layup tied up the game at 52-52, which gave the Sooners a boost to go onto an 8-0 run with three different players making baskets (McNeace, McGusty and Freeman).
The Sooners' talent advantage began to take over in the second half, as Washburn began to feel the three-headed monster of exhibition games they have faced in the past two weeks (have already played Kansas and Kansas State). After a 59-54 score with 10:28 to go in the game, the Sooners only allowed the Ichabods to score 10 more total points, while OU went on to put up 25 more points.
Some highlight reel plays consisted of a put-back slam by Jamuni McNeace (9:02), a fast break slam by Lattin (6:21), and a sweet spin move and layup by James (5:43), which also gave the Sooners a 12-0 run. The Sooners defense tightened up, not allowing Washburn to score in a 5-minute span in the second half. McGusty was also able to score 9 of his 12 in the second half.
James finished as the leading scorer with 16 points, tied McNeace with leading rebounder (8) and lead the team with assists (6). Lattin finished the game with 12 points, 7 rebounds, and lead the team in blocks (3) and steals (5). McGusty finished the game with 12 points. Woodard, Freeman and Doolittle all scored 7 points. Woodard went scoreless in the second half and did not dish any assists, but he did grab 7 rebounds.
The Sooners finished the game shooting 46% from the field and 31% beyond the arc. Playing 11 different players, the Sooners accumulated 37 bench points and racked up 34 points in the paint. The Sooners seem to still struggle with defending fast guards who like to attack the paint, however they only allowed Washburn to 28 points in the paint. Both teams grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, with the Sooners edging out Washburn with 2 more total rebounds.
The Sooners beat the Ichabods by 20, allowing Lon Kruger to establish a 14-0 career against Washburn with a 84-64 win. The Sooners open the regular season this Sunday against the Northwestern State Demons at 4:00 PM CT in the Lloyd Noble Center.