The Oklahoma Sooners battled through a relatively slow start to shut down a hot Creighton Bluejays team to the tune of 83-70. The sixth consecutive win improves Lon Kruger’s team to 10-1 on the season with conference play on the horizon.
The Bluejays came into the Lloyd Noble Center leading the nation in three-point shooting at a sizzling 45%, but against the Sooners’ stifling defense, Creighton was only able to muster a lowly 24% from downtown.
Five different Sooners scored in double figures on the night, including Christian James, who recorded a 14-12 double-double. However, if you’re looking for the most important performances of the game, look to the reserves. Kristian Doolittle and Rashard Odomes both scored season-highs with 13 points apiece.
Brady Manek played like the player he’s meant to be, leading the team with 18 points while going 7-10 from the field and 2-4 from three. Miles Reynolds, who got the start this evening, added 13 of his own and went 6-9 at the line. Reynolds’ ability to get to the line has been a major bonus for the Sooners this season.
Jamuni McNeace moved back into the starting lineup for the first time in four games after recovering from an ankle injury. The Sooners have been stout on defense for the majority of the season, but his presence around the rim gives Oklahoma a dimension that cannot be replicated. On the night, the big man wasn’t as productive from a points and rebounding standpoint (four points, 1 board), but he managed to record three huge blocks, including this sweet denial.
In the first half, Oklahoma dictated the pace of the game with its defense. Creighton looked to light it up early and often, but was unable to build any sort of rhythm, resulting in a dismal 1-13 output from deep. Meanwhile, the Sooners continued to display team basketball, from the starters to the bench squad. Speaking of the bench, the combination of Doolittle, Odomes and Matt Freeman combined for 20 of the team’s 47 points.
In the second half, the Bluejays played a bit more efficiently on the offensive end at the start, but soon enough the Sooners settled in on D once again. The flow of the game became a little stagnant about a quarter of the way through the half when a series of fouls were called against Oklahoma, including a strange flagrant one foul on McNeace. Before this, OU led by as many 16, but Creighton kept battling to cut its deficit to as close as seven.
Ultimately, the Sooners’ depth proved to be too much for the Bluejays, outlasting their run and pulling away for the semi-comfortable 13-point win.
Up next, Oklahoma hits the road once again to take on the Northwestern Wildcats this Friday, December 21st. Last season, these squads squared off in Norman, where the Sooners decimated the ‘Cats 104-78. This contest will also be the final non-conference bout before Big 12 play tips off (OU plays Vanderbilt at the end of January).
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