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November 2, 2013

OU cruises in post-Halloween exhibition win, 104-76

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With the season beginning in days, this was the kind of outing OU basketball fans wanted to see from a team that is anything but full of seasoned veterans.

Oklahoma started three upperclassmen against Washburn exactly one year ago. On Saturday, the Sooners started four underclassmen in their first competitive game since playing in Europe three months earlier.

But the Sooners looked like a team who had been playing together for years, at least against a Division II program that had never beaten OU.


video by Eddie Radosevich

The Sooners outran Washburn in the first half, hitting 53 percent of their shots and took a 48-35 lead into the locker room. With 8:37 left to play in the second half, Oklahoma had already scored more points than it did during the entire game last season (83) against the Ichabods.

The final score, 104-76, was indicative of a team executing a game plan that could've been writ large on a blank sheet of paper with the word "fast" in bold print.

"This is the pace we want to play at now," said sophomore guard Buddy Hield. "Coach [Lon Kruger] had been emphasizing it since the summer that we need to play fast, and with the guys that we have it's tailor-made for us to play fast."

Freshman Jordan Woodard handled the point guard duties with confidence, not backing down from the role of floor general amid four players who outranked him in age and experience.

Woodard scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, converting both of his 3-point shot opportunities and all three of his charity stripe attempts, while adding five steals, dropping four dimes and grabbing three boards -- all of which pleased Kruger.

"He's a guy that's always getting the ball where it needs to be, seeing his teammates," Kruger said. "The fact that he can score also makes him that much more effective."

Hield worked the wing as he had last season, putting up the kind of numbers OU would love to see from him for about 30 more games. He showed his usual flair and talent for finding the basket, converted 4-of-7 shots for 13 points in 15 minutes on the floor in the first half.

He finished with 21 points and five boards. But Hield had already proven he could score with regularity.

It was senior Cameron Clark who, perhaps, showed the transformation of his game to come this season. He averaged just 6.5 points per game as a junior and made his presence felt defensively.

This year, however, it's apparent Kruger needs him to finally become the slash and shoot scorer he showed he could be since his senior season of high school when he was the No. 35 recruit in the country.

The athleticism has always been there.

The ability to float through the air and throw down a windmill dunk; to block and pin the shot of an opposing player against the glass; to knock down shots with high-arching rainbows from 20 feet and beyond. Against Washburn, he showed it again.

"What he did tonight didn't surprise his teammates or us because we've been watching him do that pretty much every day in practice," Kruger said.

Clark hit 4-of-6 shots in the first half -- including 2-of-3 from 3-point land -- for 12 points, and he pulled down four boards in 17 minutes.

"Coach has been running plays for me," he said. "My teammates have been getting me open shots, and I've just been able to knock them down."

Clark went back to work in the second half, scoring seven of OU's 11 points in the first four minutes. Later he relented, finishing with 23 points and seven boards for the game.

But the Sooners did not let up. They finished the game strongly, a trait they'll need when the season begins in six days' time.

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