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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU pulls away late to defeat North Texas, 73-57

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The Sooners were in a defensive slugfest in the early going, but the defense eventually led to offense in the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Oklahoma vs Dayton Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners improve to 6-1 on the season after defeating previously unbeaten North Texas, 73-57. The Mean Green came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the country, lighting up scoreboards left and right, but OU’s stifling defense was able to contain UNT’s high-scoring attack.

Senior center Jamuni McNeace scored 16 points and totaled 10 rebounds, resulting in his first double-double of the season and the third of his career. Tuesday night’s strong performance against a relatively diminutive North Texas team is the continuation of McNeace’s impressive start to the 2018-19 season.

Miles Reynolds and Brady Manek also scored in double figures, but the real story in this one is the Sooners’ team defense. The offense was off in the beginning, but the defense was present throughout the night. North Texas couldn’t string together enough runs because too many of its possessions resulted in either missed shots or turnovers, and once again Oklahoma used its size to its advantage, outscoring UNT 38-24 in the paint.

In the first half, it was a complete defensive slugfest throughout. Neither team shot well from the field, and both squads combined for 18 turnovers. Notably, senior guard Christian James, who has led the Sooners in scoring this season, struggled with shooting and foul trouble the first 20 minutes, recording only one point in that span.

In the second half, things picked up on the offensive end for both teams, but the Sooners continued to bottle up UNT’s outside shooting, as the Mean Green went 6-26 from three. For the Sooners, James was able to find his shot a little bit more, but ultimately ended the night with nine points in 20 minutes played. In the end, it was an overall impressive showing for Oklahoma against a team that could very likely be part of the NCAA Tournament mix come March.

Sooner legend Eduardo Najera was also in his old stomping grounds at the LNC on Tuesday night. Man, that dude played harder than just about anybody back in the day.

Up next, Oklahoma hits the road once again to take on Notre Dame on December 4th in the Jimmy V Classic. The especially cool part about this matchup is that the game will be played at the one and only Madison Square Garden. Last season, the Fighting Irish made it to the second round of the NIT after a somewhat down year. The game will be televised on ESPN and tips off at 6 p.m. CT.

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