Although the team had a lot going against it, the veteran Oklahoma Sooners came up big down the stretch and pulled out a 76-69 OT win at Northwestern.
Senior Christian James, who has looked like an early All-Big 12 candidate in non-conference play, had an off shooting night in Evanston, connecting on 5-21 shots and going 2-10 from three. Meanwhile, starting center Jamuni McNeace was clearly hampered by his ankle and only played seven minutes. Nevertheless, this experienced Oklahoma team found a way to win on the road against a Big Ten team.
Junior forward Kristian Doolittle came up huge off the bench — particularly down the stretch. After Northwestern opened overtime with a Vic Law three-pointer, Doolittle scored three crucial field goals and spurred OU to a 10-0 run to close it out. In total, the Edmond native contributed a team-high 14 points on 7-12 shooting.
OU also received a solid contribution from Rashard Odomes, who scored 13 points in the first half as OU was struggling to hit outside shots. Chicago native Miles Reynolds was also solid in his homecoming, scoring 11 points (3-6 FG) and capping the big win with a transition bucket.
Oklahoma now sits at 11-1 entering Big 12 play. As tough as the conference is (even in a perceived down year), it’s nice to have at least a small margin for error from here on out. Finishing with this record against one of the toughest non-conference schedules is going to get you in the good graces of the NCAA Selection Committee, which is something that really came in handy last season once Selection Sunday rolled around. Having said that, I’m not sure how much margin for error this team will even need. Do I picture them dethroning Kansas for the regular season title? Of course not, but this team is tough enough — both physically and mentally — to really make some noise.