It wasn’t an ideal day for the Oklahoma Sooners, but they found a way to win. Collectively. Six different Sooners scored eight or more points on Thursday afternoon, as Oklahoma defeated the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, 78-56.
The temperatures outside were bitterly cold; inclement weather forced tip off to be moved up from 7 PM to 2 PM. Likewise, is was a rare cold day for the Sooner offense, which shot just 45.3% and posted its second lowest point total all year.
Thankfully, the defense was there to help. The Sooners forced the Islanders to shoot a much colder 38.2%, and their relentless pressure forced 20 miscues. D.J. Bennett led the attack, ending up with five blocks in just 14 minutes of action. The Islanders soon became a tentative team on offense, scared to go to the basket and risk the humiliation of having their shot attempts redirected. It wasn’t just Bennett, however. Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal each had two steals. It seemed Oklahoma’s presence was ubiquitous, and it created a feeling of paranoia among the Islanders.
Hield led the way for the Sooners on offense, with 18 points. He was the most efficient of the Sooners, connecting on eight of his 14 shot attempts. He has scored double digits so far in all of the Sooners games this season. Cousins was next, scoring 12 and connecting on 50% of his shots. With that, Cousins has now scored double digits in each of the last five games, after scoring single digits in the first three.
Though, perhaps the most surprising scoring came from freshman guard Frank Booker. Booker scored nine points, tying his career best, and connected on two three pointers in 15 minutes off the bench. Booker found a rhythm early, connecting on his first three from off the bench, and continued to provide solid play in the time he was on the court. Just a freshman, it was maybe a sneak peek at the player he could become in the near future.
Fans were treated to an exciting play early in the second half. Leading a break, Hield noticed Clark looming to his side, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. So, Hield fed him the ball, lobbing it in the air, and Clark ensued to throw down a forceful one-handed dunk that elicited a boisterous roar from the small crowd. It was the type of dunk Sooner fans have grown accustomed to from Clark over the years, and don’t be surprised if it ends up on Sportscenter.
Aside from the first five or six minutes, in which the Islanders managed to keep it close, Oklahoma had no trouble, coasting much of the game. Eight minutes in, the Sooner lead was already ten, and would only continue to grow, as they led by 18 at halftime. The rest of the game would follow this same route, as the Sooners would go on to win by a hefty margin.
Next up, Oklahoma (7-1) will travel to the nation’s capital to take on the George Mason Patriots (5-3). Tip-off is set for 12 PM CST on Sunday, Dec. 8.
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