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Oklahoma Sooners Avoid Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners' Upset Bid, 82-68

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Earning what many would term a "home" game against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, the Oklahoma Sooners opened tournament play in Oklahoma City. However, CSUB entered the arena expecting to compete and win as evidenced by their effort on the court. With a stout defense and an adequate offense, the Roadrunners pushed Oklahoma while fans watched nervously after all the upsets earlier in the NCAA Tournament. Taking over late, Buddy Hield's 27-point afternoon led the Sooners to an 82-68 win.

During the opening minutes, the Sooners found themselves in an 8-0 hole to the Roadrunners. Creating turnovers and running the floor, the pace of play picked up as Isaiah Cousins broke the drought with his first two points of the game. Storming back, the "home" team finished the first half with a 41-34 lead clearly needing to find a way to slow down Aly Ahmed.

The 6-9 center for the Roadrunners knocked down numerous shots from various spots on the floor. Capping off the first twenty minutes of play, Ahmed connected on a three point attempt giving himself 16 points at the halfway mark. Could the success be attributed to the absence of Khadeem Lattin who started the game but vanished early? Possibly, as Ahmed failed to find the bottom of the net in the second half when facing Lattin or Akolda Manyang.

Against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Lattin received an eye injury but continued to play. Reopening the wound in a collision with Ryan Spangler during a practice, the expectation was for Lattin to continue to play. Returning to start the second half, Lattin jammed one home for his first two points of the outing removing any question of his availability.

In the final twenty minutes of play, the Sooners continuously pushed the lead toward double-digits but CSUB found a way to sneak back into the game. With second chance points and a solid rebounding performance, Cal State Bakersfield continued to give their first round opponent trouble. Damiyne Durham, a one time Baylor signee, took over for the Roadrunners in the second half picking up the slack left by Ahmed. After a zero point first half, Durham finished the game with eight off the bench. However, the effort would not be enough.

Never trailing in the latter half of play, Jordan Woodard connected on a three ball sealing the fate of the Sooners by pushing the lead out to 15. Free throws nearly cost the game as OU shot a poor 60% from the charity stripe. Credit the three point shooting in the second half for the win as Oklahoma connected on 11-of-20 attempts in the game.