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November 11, 2013

OU runs away from North Texas 95-82

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Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger started four guards and one true big man for the second straight game, but the lack of size OU's put on the court has proven not to be such a bad thing through two games.

The Sooners exhibited the virtues of a good small lineup in their 95-82 win against North Texas: quickness, athleticism, an ability to run the floor and attack.

OU (2-0) forced the Mean Green to keep up with them offensively while staying under control and demonstrating the ball movement that is a hallmark of Kruger coached teams.


video courtesy SOONERSPORTSTV

The only thing missing from Oklahoma's run 'n' shoot offense at Lloyd Noble Center was an appearance from Warren Moon. But a Buddy Hield performance was more than enough.

Through the first 10 minutes of the game, seven Sooners scored buckets but none of them was sophomore guard Buddy Hield. He didn't score until there was 8:28 left in the first half, but all it took was one made basket for Hield to find his stroke.

He caught fire like a wood-burning stove, scoring 10 points over the next five minutes of play and ended the night with a career-high 23 points.

"I'm just trying to be aggressive," Hield said. "Coach told me to be aggressive. My teammates keep on telling me to be aggressive and attacking. I'm just trying to do what I gotta do to help my team on defense and with scoring."

Kruger believes Hield has the tools and attitude to be a great player.

"He's got all the raw ingredients," Kruger said, "starting with energy, enthusiasm, passion, sincere about his teammates, doing whatever he can to help his team."

Oklahoma hit 6-of-12 3-pointers in the first half and continued to stroke it with confidence from beyond the arc as the game continued. The Sooners made 44 percent of their shots from 3-point range.

Heading to the locker room at halftime, Oklahoma had a 48-38 lead.

The Mean Green (1-1) tried to mount several comebacks throughout the second half, using 6-foot-10, 250-pound center Keith Coleman as the anchor in the post.

"He gave us a lot of problems," Kruger said. "A big guy, perhaps, will. He's a big physical guy. We're not a big physical team."

Coleman scored eight points and cleaned the glass for seven rebounds in the first half and ended the night with 14 points and 10 boards. But Coleman's play in the paint wasn't enough to discourage the man charged with guarding him most of the night, sophomore Ryan Spangler.

The man from Tuttle has built a basketball identity out of outhustling true centers. He grabbed eight boards in the first half -- one more than Coleman -- and finished with 11 points and a board short of a double-double.

Senior Tyler Neal made his presence known with 12 points and eight boards of his own.

"I've known I can do these things for awhile," Neal said. "I just need to step up and do it. I know my teammates believe in me."

The glaring weakness the Sooners showed came at the foul line.

They hit just 15-of-24 shots from the charity stripe, and Spangler converted just 3-of-9 free throw attempts. Kruger said the poor display from the stripe was "uncharacteristic" of Spangler.

"He missed a couple there early, and I think that bothered him a little bit," he said.

UNT closed the gap to four points with little more than 12:19 left to play with the help of Coleman and timely 3-pointers from the Mean Green's guards late, but North Texas needed to make this a grinding game to win it.

The Sooners were better about forcing UNT to play its game and executing Kruger's game plan. That's the great reward for Kruger and his staff tonight.

Their energetic team, long on youth and short on experience, is executing during the first days of November.

Oklahoma NEWS


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