The Oklahoma Sooners knew facing the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks would be no easy task. The last time the two teams met in 2007, Oklahoma fell on its own home court. Seeking vengeance in a rematch, the Sooners again came up short, falling 56-55. The loss marked the first time the Sooners had lost a non-conference matchup at home in 36 games, and bumped the Sooners to 7-3 on the season.
Freshman Buddy Hield had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds. With just four seconds left to play, and the Sooners down 56-54, Hield was fouled and sent to the free throw line. He sunk the first shot, trimming the deficit to just one, however, the second shot clanked off the rim and with it went Oklahoma’s hopes of a victory. The Lumberjacks grabbed the rebound, ran out the time and ran away with the game. Ironically, Hield finished one point shy of a double-double, he had nine points and led the Sooners in rebounding with 11 boards.
Not all the blame can be put on the missed free throw however. If not for their dismal start to the second half, the Sooners would arguably have been in a much better position to win the game. Oklahoma went into the break with a narrow 30-26 lead, but allowed its opponent to open up a 16-2 run to start the second half, helping the Lumberjacks jump out to a 10 point lead. Although Oklahoma did rally back to retake the lead, it was for but a brief moment. Shortly after the Sooners regained the lead, Thomas Walkup hit a layup to give it back to the Lumberjacks and they did not relinquish it.
Once again it was offense, or lack thereof, that plagued the Sooners. An interesting stat: Tuesday evening marks the 41st straight game in which the Lumberjacks have held their opponent to 70 points or less. That in mind, the Sooners shot just 38% from the field and 21% from three. Steven Pledger, the Sooners best three point shooter heading into the game was 0-6 from downtown.
Despite losing the rebounding battle 38-37, Stephen F. Austin dominated the paint, outscoring the Sooners 34-12 down low.
Without their leader in assists Sam Grooms, who was out with a concussion, the Sooners managed just six assisted baskets to the Lumberjacks 17 tonight.
Jelon Hornbeak, along with Pledger, led the Sooners in scoring tonight with 12 points apiece. Hornbeak was 3-5 from three point range and also led the team in assists with three. For his efforts, he is the Sooner Player of the Game.
After a season-high 17 points against Texas A&M Saturday, Cameron Clark cooled off considerably with just four points on 1-4 shooting in 18 minutes this evening.
The Sooners will take another 11 days of rest before their next matchup against the Ohio Bobcats on December 29th. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CST.
Want more Sooner hoops? Follow me on Twitter @ChandlerVessels