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February 15, 2014

Sooners outlast Pokes sweep reg. season series

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The game was tied at 57-57 when freshman Frank Booker nailed a 3-pointer on the wing with 6:06 left to give Oklahoma the lead.

Instead of the trey taking Oklahoma State out of the game though, Booker's shot only seemed to bolster the resolve of a Pokes team playing without its star point guard Marcus Smart. Having Smart might've helped OSU, but his absence certainly didn't seem to hurt the Cowboys as much as it did earlier in the week.

SCOOPHD: SOONERS OUTLAST POKES, SWEEP REG. SEASON SERIES


"With (Smart), I think he gets them going, but other guys stepped up for them today," said sophomore Ryan Spangler. "Everybody for them was hitting shots, and they were just as hard to guard."

Behind senior guard Markel Brown the Cowboys mounted an 8-0 scoring run with just minutes remaining at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Then Booker shot and made another trey cutting the Pokes' lead to 67-65 with 3:04 remaining.

That enabled sophomore Buddy Hield to hit a 3-pointer of his own during OU's next possession. 29 of OU's 62 shots came from beyond the arc. 12 of them splashed -- good enough for a 41.4 percent clip.

With the game tied at 68-68, Hield came off a screen set by Spangler and knocked down his fifth triple against OSU. The 9-1 scoring run sealed the 77-74 victory for the Sooners on Saturday afternoon.

"It was a really a hard-fought game all the way," said OU coach Lon Kruger. "There wasn't really a lot of margin. Both teams, I thought, just left it all out there."

Hield finished with the most points on 22 on 8-of-18 shooting, and Spangler finished with a double-double -- 12 points, 13 boards. But it was the Sooner bench who won it for OU.

Booker scored a career-high 15 points while senior Tyler Neal scored 13. Booker said the environment inside Gallagher-Iba didn't bother him much, even though it was his first game inside the arena.

"I just came in here ready to shoot, and do my role," Booker said. "Other than that, just play defense and knock down shots."

Oklahoma took more 3-pointers (17) than it did shots inside the arc (16) in the first half and still managed to hold a 39-37 lead going into the locker room. The Sooners only hit six of those 3-pointers, but two of them came from Neal.

Neal paced the Sooners off the bench early with 11 points. He only took three shots in the first 20 minutes but earned his way to the free throw line 10 times.

While the Sooners hit just 14 shots in the half, sophomore Ryan Spangler went to work on the glass early and often. He notched eight points and 10 boards -- in the first half.

"I tried to do the little things for my team to win," Spangler said. "The things I do kind of brings energy to my team, so if I'm able to start off a game getting some offensive rebounds, some tough rebounds, maybe get some people open with screens, that's just gonna allow us to be a better team."

The Sooners began second half slowly and nearly got beat because of it. Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Brian Williams were having their way in the paint, and the Sooners couldn't match them bucket for bucket until late in the game.

OSU got a combined 51 points out Brown, Williams and sophomore Phil Forte who did the Pokes' heavy lifting in the first half while OU got almost nothing out of guards Cameron Clark, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard.

The Sooner trio had averaged better than 37 points per game before arriving in Stillwater. They combined for just nine points on 3-of-23 shooting against OSU.

"They'll bounce right back and play the next one," Kruger said. "That's the way they've done it all year."

So the Sooners survived an outing where Clark and Woodard weren't at the scoring best, and Cousins was at his worst shooting 0-for-8 from the floor. More than that, the Sooners managed to sweep the Bedlam men's basketball series.



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