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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: Senior stalwarts help OU hold off USC, 81-70

Miles Reynolds and Christian James combined for 36 points in a win over the Trojans in Tulsa.

NCAA Basketball: Jimmy V Classic-Oklahoma vs Notre Dame Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

A trip up the turnpike for a game at the BOK Center in Tulsa produced a strong all-around performance from the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday night in an 81-70 victory over the USC Trojans. The win ran OU’s record to 9-1 with the start of Big 12 play two weeks away.

High-energy guard Miles Reynolds paced OU’s scoring with 20 points on seven-of-10 shooting. Senior swingman Christian James chipped in 16 points and led the Sooners with 15 rebounds. Sophomore forward Brady Manek added 15.

The Sooners appeared ready to run away with the game after building up a 40-28 halftime lead. A sloppy start to the second half allowed Southern Cal to cut the margin to four points with just under 14 minutes to play. The Trojans got no closer the rest of the way.

In a choppy game that saw the two teams combine for 35 turnovers, OU enjoyed a 10-0 edge in fast break points.

The Sooners also clamped down on Bennie Boatwright, USC’s star forward. Boatwright shot 3-of-13 from the field, finishing the game with nine points, six below his season average.

Boatwright’s front court mate Nick Rakocevic picked up some of the slack. The junior forward led USC with 17 points. He also corralled 15 boards.

Jamuni McNeace made a surprise appearance for OU off the bench to help the Sooners combat the Trojans front line. After sitting out the previous two games against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Wichita State Shockers, the veteran pivot man banged down low for 14 minutes. Senior guard Rashard Odomes also gave OU a lift off the bench with seven points and active hands on defense.

Lon Kruger’s team now heads back to Norman for a home date at the Lloyd Noble Center versus the Creighton Blue Jays on Tuesday. Then it’s off to Chicago to take on the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, the last game before the Sooners kick off conference play against the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence on Jan. 2.