For the first time in his career, Buddy Hield started for Oklahoma against Ohio Saturday at the Llyod Noble Center. It appeared to be a recipe for success, behind a second half surge, the Sooners were able to come away with victory in hand, winning 74-63 to improve to 8-3 on the season.
Hield scored only five points, but excelled in other areas. He recorded seven assists and four steals, leading his team in both categories. His defensive intensity anchored his team, helping them to force 18 Bobcat turnovers. Buddy Hield earns the Sooner Player of the Game in his first ever start.
It’s pretty accurate to say the first half was an even match. At the break the score was knotted at 29 apiece. However, the Sooners came out roaring in the second. Opening up a 12-3 run, they were able to jump out to a nine point advantage early in the half. Ohio never led again, and Oklahoma went on to lead by as many as 17 before settling for the 11 point triumph.
Despite shooting just 30% in the first half, the Sooners shot an remarkable 71% (17-24) in the second. Oklahoma was also unsuccessful on all eight of its three point attempts in the first, but found the basket much kinder in the second period, sinking three out of four from deep.
Steven Pledger followed a similar pattern. Pledger went just 1-8 and scored just four points in the first half, but made a miraculous turnaround in the second. He connected on his first attempt, a sign of what was to come, going 6 for 8 and scoring 14 points, to finish with a grand total of 18 points leading the Sooners in scoring. He also added six rebounds. It was somewhat of a breakout game for Pledger, whose numbers have been a bit down this season, and was without question his best performance of the year. His seismic shift from first to second half was a major factor in the Sooners victory.
Pledger wasn’t the only one experiencing a breakthrough though. Amath M’Baye has had his own struggles as of late. He was held scoreless against Texas A&M and scored only three points on only two shot attempts in the loss to Stephen F. Austin. This evening however, the forward put in one of his better games of the year. M’Baye scored 16 points on 75% from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and was also active defensively, swiping three steals.
Of course, it’s impossible not to mention old reliable, Romero Osby. The senior forward quietly put in another solid performance with 16 points on 5 for 8 shooting, five rebounds, and a block and a steal. He also connected on all six of his free throw attempts.
In his first game back from suffering from a concussion, Sam Grooms helped pace the Sooner offense. Grooms dished just two assists, but if you look at the turnover category, where the Sooners committed just 11 you will see the full effect of his 20 minutes.
Cameron Clark finished with eight points off the bench for Oklahoma, including two successive fast break slams in the midst of a 15-2 run for Oklahoma, a major turning point in the game.
On the whole the Sooners won the inside battle with Ohio. Not only did Oklahoma outrebound the Bobcats 33-30, but the outscored them in points in the paint and second chance points as well.
The Sooners will get just one day of rest before playing their final non-conference game of the season against Texas A&M Corpus-Christi New Year’s Eve. Tip-off is set for 2 PM CST in the McCasland Field House.
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