It was a big night for Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. Kruger hit a major milestone in his coaching career, earning his 500th win as a head coach as his Sooners scraped by Northwestern State 69-65. With the win Kruger ranks 18th overall among active head coaches. His Sooners are 6-1 so far this season.
It was a wire to wire game, but maybe that was fitting considering the circumstances. In fact, it took a late run by the Sooners to pull away from the Demons, who had led most of the game.
Out of the gate, the Sooners looked a bit sluggish, perhaps a bit fatigued from playing their fifth game in a span of just eight days. Oklahoma jumped out to an early seven point advantage, but quickly saw that lead dwindle into a deficit. By halftime, the Sooners trailed 32-29.
The second half wasn’t substantially better. The Sooners came out firing to retake the lead, only to lose it yet again shortly after. Romero Osby fouled out with over five minutes remaining in the game, certainly hindering the Sooner’s, still trailing at this point, chances of a comeback.
Not until with two minutes remaining in the game when freshman Jelon Hornbeak hit the go ahead three did the Sooners begin to really pull away. Oklahoma outscored Northwestern State 8-2 in the final two minutes, en route to victory.
This marked the fifth game this season for the Sooners that was decided by seven points or less. The Sooners improved to 5-0 in those contests.
Despite fouling out, Romero Osby led the Sooners in scoring with 11 points on the evening. He did so by way of the free throw line, going 9 for 12 there to make up for a dismal 1 for 8 from the field. Osby also pulled down eight rebounds to tie Amath M’Baye for the team high.
Freshman Isaiah Cousins paced the Sooner offense for four assists and also scored on a few occasions himself, ending up with nine points in addition to pulling down five boards. He is the Sooner Player of the Game.
At times, the Sooners struggled for rebounds inside, flustered by the physical play of the Demons. The rebounding battle was knotted at 38 in this contest and NSU outscored the Sooners 9-7 on second chance points.
The Sooners again put on an excellent display of defense, holding Northwestern State to just 38% shooting for the entire game. Oklahoma’s defensive pressure also forced 17 miscues by the Demons.
Offensively it was a different story, the Sooners shot just 39% themselves on the game, and had it not been for a 43% shooting effort in the second half, it’s doubtful the would have won the game.
Oklahoma once again exhibited its depth. 10 different Sooners scored in double figures, and Oklahoma got 25 points from its bench. Andrew Ftizgerald and Cameron Clark had particularly nice games; Fitzgerald scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds, while Clark added six points on 3-5 shooting in only 13 minutes of action.
After a few days’ rest, the Sooners will hit the road, where they are 4-1 on the season, yet again as they will travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks Tuesday. Tip-off is set for 6 PM CST.
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