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November 13, 2013

Clark, Hornbeak strong in Sooners third straight win

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It wasn't artful basketball. It wasn't fluid basketball, but it certainly had a musical accompaniment. 45 whistles were blown Wednesday night, and those were just for the fouls called.

There were 54 total free throws taken during the Sooners' 85-65 win against Idaho, and OU scored 19 of those points at the foul line, taking 30 total freebies.


video by Eddie Radosevich

The impact of the new rules change in college basketball has come to Lloyd Noble Center.

"Everyone's still learning," said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. "Officials still learning, players still learning -- we're all learning how games are gonna be called. This was probably a bit tighter than the other two [games] have been. We'll just have to adjust each night out."

The Sooners hit just 3-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half and shot 48 percent the floor, but they took advantage of Idaho getting into foul trouble early. OU was in the bonus for the remaining 9:59 of the first half and hit 9-of-12 from the charity stripe.

It was the Sooners' active hands and sliding feet that did the most to give them their double-digit advantage after the first 20 minutes and see them home to the win. OU forced the Vandals to take bad shots, tough shots, rough-looking shots.

OU blocked eight total Vandal shots. Three of them came from sophomore Ryan Spangler.

"I thought our guys, after the first few minutes, got into them a little bit and dictated defensively," Kruger said. "Just a whole different effort tonight defensively. Much better than we had in the last couple ball games."

Idaho turned over the ball nine times in the first half -- 14 turnovers in the game -- and just three of their 10 made shots from the floor were assisted in the first half. The Sooners led 40-29 at intermission.

Many of the Vandals' buckets came in the paint where they took advantage of their size advantage inside. Oklahoma countered on the other end with good ball movement. 15 of the Sooners 29 buckets were assisted.

The victory was the Sooners' third consecutive, and the third straight that sophomore guard Buddy Hield scored in double figures with 13 points. 11 of Hield's points came in the second half, but he took a team-high 11 shots total.

While Hield came on strong late, his teammates kept up the pace for the duration. Five Sooners ended the night with at least 12 points.

The OU bench added 31 points to the tally, and sophomore guard Je'lon Hornbeak had 12 of those and six assists. He played 29 minutes, thanks in large part to starting point guard Jordan Woodard picking up a few quick fouls in the game.

"My job is basically to come in wherever coach needs me to help out," Hornbeak said, "whether that is at wing or point. Jordan got in some early foul trouble, so playing point and running the team was put in my hands, and I did it to the best of my abilities."

Idaho's leading man, guard Glen Dean scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and was one of three Vandals to finish with double-digits scoring.

Senior Cameron Clark finished with a team-high 14 points and was the most consistent scoring threat the Sooners had all night.

"I just came out aggressive," Clark said. "That is what we're going to need from our team, everybody attacking. That is what I did today."

Tonight marked the second straight night senior Tyler Neal scored double figures in a game. Neal pulled down seven boards to go with his 12 points scoring.

"Tyler continues to do a good job," Kruger said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's rebounding the ball. He's making plays. He's making shots."

Kruger believes this year, like last year, he'll be able to run nine to 10 players through the rotation consistently.

Knowing that the Sooners can receive good production from their bench is comforting for them, especially since it seems the officials' whistles will be blowing like their attached to late locomotives.

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