Hot Shooting Sooners Soar to 82-53 Victory
Forward Tyler Neal led all reserves with eight.
Forward Tyler Neal led all reserves with eight.
SoonersIllustrated.com Publisher
Posted Dec 2, 2011
Joey Helmer


NORMAN, Okla. — Chalk up yet another victory for the Sooners.

They defeated the Sacramento State Hornets 82-53 Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center, bouncing back off their 76 Classic Championship loss the other night to Saint Louis.

"It was a good game for a lot of different reasons coming off these three games in Anaheim," said head coach Lon Kruger. "I thought we really gained some experience there. [We] played a lot of different styles. Then we came back with three or four days of really good practice. For the most part the guys did a good job of transferring those things in practice to the [game]. They really moved the ball well and got it off their hands pretty well."

In the victory, OU shot a scorching hot 57.4 percent and busted 11-of-20 treys.

"It is a direct result of making the extra pass," Kruger said. "I thought the guys did a great job of creating good looks for each other."

Guard Cameron Clark, who finished with a game-high 18 points, hit 3-of-5 from deep, while guard Steven Pledger was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc, and point guard Sam Grooms was also perfect, hitting both of his attempts from 3-point range.

In the meantime, the Sooners played what Kruger called their most complete defensive performance yet.

Although SSU shot a decent 44.2 percent, they managed just seven second chance points, signaling a ton of one-and-done possessions.

"For 40 minutes I thought we sustained a little better," Kruger said. "In each of our games we've had stretches of pretty good defensive play. I thought we had more of those good stretches tonight."

Along with Clark, two other Sooners finished in double figures.

Pledger had 15, and forward Andrew Fitzgerald, who benefited in large part from OU's seven dunks in the contest, added 13.

"I enjoyed that a lot," Fitzgerald said. "It brings a lot of energy to the crowd. Last year, we didn't have that many dunks. So since we've been having all these dunks, it brings a lot of excitement. It brings more people to see us win, but also to see the dunks. It brings some enlightenment, some joy to the stands to the coaches and to the players on our bench."

Guards Heath Hoffman and Joe Eberhard each had 10 for the Hornets.

OU raced out to an early 12-2 lead by the first media timeout and never really looked back.

They were already up 15 by the 13:40 mark and although SSU cut it back to eight, they never got closer than that again, as the Sooners used a 20-6 spurt and 3-pointer surge to lead 41-19 late in the first half.

"It definitely is a spark plug," Pledger said. "We're definitely motivated by hitting shots and in this case it was the 3-ball today. Everybody was hitting and it spurred our offense."

After building a 45-20 halftime advantage, the Sooners led by at least 30 for a large chunk of the second half, all in the final nine minutes.

OU had its largest lead of 35 points when it went up 76-41 with just 6:41 to play.

In the first game without guard Calvin Newell coming off the bench, forward Tyler Neal led all reserves with eight points, while guard Carl Blair finished with five points and five rebounds.

"We will miss Calvin," Kruger said. "Calvin has done a good job for us. We respect his decision to need to get back and take care of some things at home. But, we will still miss him. I thought those guys that came in tonight...probably those minutes will fall more to Tyler and maybe Carl."

The Sooners, now 5-1, await a 7 p.m. contest next Thursday against Oral Roberts inside the LNC.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.



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