Distractions were amid for the Oklahoma Sooners (5-1) team as they prepared to take on the Sacramento State Hornets (3-4), coming off a tough loss in the 76 Classic championship in Anaheim. However, there was a much bigger issue with the recent news of the departure of Calvin Newell. Naturally, there were also a lot of questions as to how this team would respond. The answer: with a convincing 82-53 victory.
From start to finish it was a dominating performance as the Sooners opened on a 15-4 run to start the first half. The Hornets stuck around for some time, until the 17 minute mark of the second, until a sparking 12-0 run by the Sooners to take a commanding 63-34 lead and cruise to an easy W.
The Sooner defense played a major part in the win, swarming the Hornets causing 22 turnovers and swiping 16 steals. Most impressive were Sam Grooms, Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald, who combined for nine of the steals (three apiece).
Steven Pledger stepped big time in the absence of Newell, pouring in 15 points on 80% (4-5) shooting and 100% (3-3) from three point land. He also distributed well adding five assists to the stat sheet making him the Sooner Player of the Game.
It was Cameron Clark who had somewhat of a coming out party tonight, leading the way with 18 points on the evening. As never seems to fail, he again left the crowd with several jaw-dropping jams on the evening, while also dishing three assists and grabbing three rebounds.
Another key ingredient to the success tonight was ball movement. The Sooners certainly picked up the pace since their last performance against Saint Louis, assisting on 22 of the 31 made field goals tonight. As you can see by the outcome, anytime that happens, it is a recipe for victory.
Oklahoma also controlled the glass tonight very nicely, outrebounding Sacramento State by a margin of ten 29-19. Carl Blair led the team with five boards off the bench.
Other contributors to the win this evening include Andrew Fitzgerald, with 13 points and four rebounds, Sam Grooms nine points and four assists, and Tyler Neal and Romero Osby who combined for 16 points (eight apiece) and seven rebounds on the night.
Overall, it was a confidence boosting win for the Sooners who prepare for a rough week ahead. Both Oral Roberts (5-2) and Arkansas (5-1) visit Norman in what appear to be all but easy matchups. The Sooners will certainly need to be alert heading into this matchup, and a win like this one can really help a teams momentum.