LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Oklahoma missed some shots they normally make and committed some head-scratching turnovers in the first half against Tulane on Thursday night. The next thing the Sooners knew, they were in a heck of a game.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Oklahoma missed some shots they normally make and committed some head-scratching turnovers in the first half against Tulane on Thursday night.
The next thing the Sooners knew, they were in a heck of a game.
Oklahoma corrected many of its early mistakes in the final 20 minutes to run away with an 89-70 win over the Green Wave during the first round of the Tire Pros Invitational. The Sooners advanced in the winners' bracket where they will meet Northern Iowa in the late game Friday night.
"We just played smarter in the second half," said Oklahoma senior guard Jordan Woodard, who led his team with 22 points, seven assists and four steals. "We started playing our game.
"We let them dictate a little bit in the first half. They are a good ball club and so are we. We just had to take it to another level in the second half and keep advancing."
After clinging to a 38-35 halftime advantage, the Sooners (2-0) came out much more aggressive early in the second half and quickly built a double-digit lead. Rahsard Odomes (15 points) and Woodard let the way in the final 20 minutes with a combined 24 points, but it was some the young players who made timely contributions to keep the attacking Green Wave (1-2) from making a comeback.
Freshman forward Kristian Doolittle was a force inside, scoring eight points while leading the charge on the offensive boards where he pulled five of his game-high 12 rebounds. Freshmen Matt Freeman and Jordan Shepherd also both had key contributions, which is what the Sooners needed after losing three senior captains off of last season's team.
"We had a lot of young lineups out there tonight on many occasions," said OU coach Lon Kruger. "This is going to be a club where individually you will see more people get comfortable with each game."
Tulane: The Green Wave are athletic and can make it difficult on teams with their quickness to the paint and 3-point shooting. Ray Ona Embo was sometimes brilliant in his ability to break defenders down and either penetrate or pull up for a jumper on the perimeter.
Oklahoma: Facing their toughest competition so far this season, the young Sooners showed plenty of resolve in overcoming an aggressive shooting Tulane team. Woodard and Odomes made most of the big shots during the critical second-half run but Shepherd and Doolittle also contributed key points to help the Sooners pull away in the second half.
Tulane, which had led by as many as four points in the first half, gave up 21 points off of turnovers and allowed Oklahoma to score 15 points on second-chance shots.
"So 36 of their points come in that manner," Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It's a quick turnaround and we have to do better in that space."
So much has been made out of how young the Sooners will be this season after losing three talented seniors of last year's team.
But Woodard says he likes what he is seeing out of all of them so far.
"Each game is a learning experience," Woodard said. "We have guys who are not afraid to step up to the challenge and take ownership of the team and Coach is going to put us in good spots to be successful."
Tulane: The Green Wave will face Arizona State in the second round of the Tire Pros Invitational on Friday night.
Oklahoma: The Sooners will take on Northern Iowa in the second round of the invite on Friday night.