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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU prevails in ugly contest against UCF, 53-52

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OU played one of its best defensive halves of the season to score a much needed victory.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Stanford Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners overcame a sloppy first half to beat the UCF Knights, 53-52. With the win, OU ends a two-game slide and improves to 8-3 on the season.

Lon Kruger changed up his starting five on Saturday, replacing freshman De’Vion Harmon with Alondes Williams. The jury is still out on whether or not the move is one that can make a significant difference as they recorded a total of two assists and eight points between them. Going forward, look for Harmon to return to the starting lineup if the Williams experiment doesn’t create enough of a difference in production.

The Knights weren’t clicking on all cylinders coming out of the gates, but through the game’s opening 20 minutes they managed to put together a relatively clean performance with only five turnovers and no fouls. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s key contributors struggled to find the bottom of the basket for the majority of the half. As a result, the Sooners trailed by as many as 12 in the first half. However, the feel of the game changed from that point as OU turned up its defense down the stretch and mounted a 7-0 run going into the break.

In the second half, Oklahoma picked up where it left off in the first and looked like a completely different team on the defensive end. In total, the Sooners held UCF to 20 points in the final 20 minutes, and for the game the Knights shot just 31.3% from the field. Central Florida would not give up until the final buzzer, losing the game on a missed corner three.

Brady Manek and Kristian Doolittle were the stars of the game for the Sooners, especially in the second half. The two veterans dropped 13 and 12 points, respectively, while also adding 10 and eight boards.

Up next, Oklahoma hosts UT-Rio Grande Valley (4-8) on Monday, Dec. 30 before tipping-off Big 12 play. The Vaqueros are led by former Sooners assistant Lew Hill. Last season, OU defeated UTRGV away from the friendly confines of the Lloyd Noble Center, 91-76. The game is set for a 6:00 p.m. CT start and will air on FSOK.

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