Oklahoma takes down Idaho men's basketball, 85-65

STAFF AND WIRE REPORTSNovember 14, 2013 

NORMAN, Okla. — Cameron Clark's 14 points led five Oklahoma players in double-figure scoring as the Sooners turned in their best defensive effort of the season and raced past Idaho 85-65 on Wednesday.

Idaho (1-1) scored on its first three possessions, including a pair of 3-pointers. After the teams swapped the lead four times, Idaho built a six-point lead before Oklahoma moved ahead for good with 7:56 remaining.

"We got off to a good start, no question about it," Idaho coach Don Verlin said. "You've got to credit Oklahoma, they made some adjustments and really turned up the pressure and we didn't handle that very well. I was really happy with our start, I thought in spurts of the game we played really well, we just weren't able to sustain our intensity against a good, well-coached Oklahoma team."

"It was a good game to win," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought Idaho is a ballclub that does a real good job of executing and controlling the game. Our guys — after the first few minutes — got into it and started dictating defensively."

Oklahoma (3-0) shot 48 percent from the floor in the first half and scored seven points off nine Idaho turnovers to lead 40-29 at halftime.

Oklahoma picked up the pace defensively in the second half, forcing the Vandals to work through full-court pressure most trips up the floor. The Sooners pushed their lead to as many as 26 while forcing five more turnovers and holding a 45-35 rebounding edge.

The Sooners also recorded a season-high eight blocks in a tightly-officiated game. The two teams combined for 45 fouls and 54 free throws.

The 65 points were the fewest the Sooners have allowed all season.

"We were a little more aggressive," Kruger said. "That's the key. We slid our feet much better on the ball and we went to the ball much better. Everyone is still learning. The officials are still learning. The players are still learning how the game will be called and this one was probably a little tighter with hands than the other two."

Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler scored 13 for the Sooners while Tyler Neal and Je'lon Hornbeak each added 12.

Glen Dean led Idaho with 14 points. Sekou Wiggs scored 11.

Idaho came into the game leading the WAC conference in 3-pointers made (7) and three-point percentage (36 percent). After guard Connor Hill opened the game with a pair of threes, Idaho would finish the night converting just 6-of-22 attempts.

"Yesterday's practice was mainly about defense," Hornbeak said. "We watched a lot of film defensively and it's always good to see your mistakes together. We really held each other accountable and it showed."

The senior Neal again came off the bench to give the Sooners solid production, leading Oklahoma with seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

The game was Oklahoma's third in six days since beginning the season November 8 with an 82-73 win over Alabama in the Buckets and Boots Showcase. The Sooners returned home Monday to beat North Texas 95-82.

Oklahoma will have eight days off until traveling to Seton Hall Nov. 22. Idaho hosts Northwest Nazarene on Saturday at 8 p.m. MST.

"I hope our guys can learn from this game, that's what I challenged them to in the locker room," Verlin said. "Oklahoma is a good team, they're picked fourth or fifth in the Big 12, they're 3-0, this is a good basketball team. We've got to make sure we learn from it, and when the heat is turned up again, respond to it."

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