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January 17, 2014

Hornbeak positive depsite offensive struggles in return

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Two days after No. 25 Oklahoma lost to Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., sophomore guard Je'lon Hornbeak rotated at the point with freshman guard Jordan Woodard at practice inside Lloyd Noble.

Hornbeak ran through the offensive plays OU will likely use when they travel to Waco, Texas, Saturday to play the No. 12 Baylor Bears while doing his best to regain his confidence after he scored just one point against the Wildcats.

SCOOPHD: OU READY TO BOUNCE BACK VS. BAYLOR


Video by Eddie Radosevich

He didn't make a single field-goal, shooing 0-for-7 from the floor. Senior guard Cameron Clark said Hornbeak is still trying to regain his swagger.

"He's doing a great job, but his confidence isn't where it needs to be," Clark said. "We're just going to keep on encouraging him, and he's going to turn the corner soon."

Though Hornbeak contributed three assists and did not commit a turnover in the game against KSU, his failing to score in the final minutes of the game left OU with its second loss in only the first four games of Big 12 play.

OU coach Lon Kruger put the offense in Hornbeak's hands down the stretch, electing to leave frosh point guard Jordan Woodard on the bench. Hornbeak finished having played more minutes (23) than Woodard (20).

The Sooners held a 62-56 lead with 5:37 left to play and ended up losing by six. When the Sooners couldn't buy a basket, their best ball-handler wasn't on the floor. Woodard sat out the last six minutes of the game.

Kruger decided to go with Hornbeak instead of Woodard down the stretch because he liked what he was given the Sooners offensively.

"I thought he got us into good stuff the other night," Kruger said. "I thought he was the most comfortable at getting down in the paint, driving and making plays. He didn't make shots, but he made some plays."

Kruger expects Woodard to contribute largely against Baylor and doesn't thinking the de facto benching last Tuesday night will affect his play.

"I think Jordan reacted to not getting the results that he wanted well," Kruger said. "He's gonna come out and practiced well and do whatever he can to play better, and that's what we need out of everyone."

Over the course of the season Woodard has proven to be the best point man the Sooners can lay claim to, and he's played the most minutes at the position. He averages 11.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 boards per game.

Hornbeak averages just 4.5 points and 2.5 assists and 1.8 boards per game. He's missed four of OU's 17 games with a foot injury but was deemed ready to go for the start of Big 12 play.

Since his return, Hornbeak has scored a total of four points in four games, and he was held scoreless in OU's first two games of league play against Texas and Kansas.

Hornbeak's intrinsic gifts -- leadership, floor vision -- prove his value to the team. But it wouldn't hurt for him to start getting a few buckets.

"I'm in the gym," Hornbeak said, "still working hard, still doing the same things. It's going to come. I just gotta be patient and know it's gonna to come and trust in myself. My teammates trust in me. My coach still trusts, and that's the biggest thing."



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