NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma had won its first two games and the offense was clicking on all cylinders. The defense, however, was another story.
OU coach Lon Kruger wanted to see some improvement in that area, and he did in the Sooners’ 85-65 victory against Idaho at Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday night.
It didn’t start out that way, quite the opposite. Idaho led 19-13 and hit seven of its first 10 shots. But then OU imposed its will defensively.
Idaho connected on just 15 of its final 50 shots, a mere 30 percent and OU had a 27-point lead in the second half.
“We got into them a little bit,” Kruger said. “It was a much better effort on defense. I thought our activity on defense was the difference in the game.”
OU allowed 82 points in Monday’s victory, and sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak said Tuesday’s practice was essentially all about defense. Everybody was going to hold everybody else accountable, and it’s all the team was talking about during pregame.
Hornbeak is having to adjust from game-to-game. Sometimes he’s a scorer on the wing. This time around OU needed him to lead the offense as freshman guard Jordan Woodard battled foul trouble.
Hornbeak responded with 12 points, six assists and three steals.
“My job is to come in and help out however I can,” Hornbeak said. “Sometimes it’s on the wing. Sometimes it’s at point. Whatever is needed.”
Five OU players scored in double figures, led by Cam Clark’s 14 points. Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler each had 13, while Tyler Neal had 12 points.
Neal had 12 points and eight rebounds Monday and followed that with a seven-rebound outing Wednesday.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Kruger said.
OU gets a little time to breathe now. The Sooners are 3-0 having played three games in six nights. OU won’t play again until Nov. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y., against Seton Hall.