By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma scored 30 points before the first half was half over, at times threatened to double up Monday’s challenger, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and even inserted crowd favorite James Fraschilla 3:56 before its 72-42 victory was complete.
On the face of it, it was everything the Sooners could have wanted on throwback day at Howard McCasland Field House, where the program won its first regular season game since March 5, 1975 (an 84-79 decision over Iowa State).
The only downside was OU might have gone for a little more.
Scoring 30 in the first 10 minutes meant the Sooners scored just 42 the game’s last half hour. Those first 10 minutes also included six 3-pointers from five different players — Steven Pledger (2), Buddy Hield, Cam Clark, Je’lon Hornbeak, Isaiah Cousins — yet only three more the rest of the game. And after a hot start, OU shot just 40.7 percent (24 of 59) overall.
Sooner coach Lon Kruger chose door No. 1.
“It was good to finish non-conference play with not only a win, but a game where we had a lot of guys who stepped up and played well and made shots and moved the ball well,” he said. “We had good activity on the floor and now we have a few days in preparation for the Big 12 opener.”
OU moved to 9-3, while the Islanders fell to 1-10. The Sooners open conference play Saturday at West Virginia.
The players were with their coach.
“I’m just glad we got the win in the way we got it,” Pledger said. “We kept our foot down the way we were supposed to and did things we talk about day in and day out.”
Pledger led with 17 points, following a fine second half two days earlier against Ohio with 5-of-10 accuracy from beyond the 3-point arc against the Islanders. Amath M’Baye finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Andrew Fitzgerald came off the bench to add nine points.
That it happened in the venerable old arena, normally the home to Sooner wrestling and volleyball, made it a nice change of pace.
“I think it is a lot of fun, M’Baye said. “We do it for the fans and, apparently, they like it, too … It’s always fun to come back and play here.”
Throwback day included scoreboard replays in black and white and fedoras worn along the scorer’s table. Even the security detail went with dark suits.
Throwback or not, it was no fun for the Islanders. Led by Oklahoma City native Joy Williamson’s 14 points, TAMU-CC was down by 10 points 6:26 into the game, by 20 1:17 before the half and by 30 for the first time with 6:34 remaining.
OU’s best moments were very early. By getting points on 7 of 9 and 11 of 14 possessions to begin the game, the Sooners set a fantastic pace. When Hornbeak knocked down his 3-pointer, the lead was 27-10.
OU was running, gunning and converting.
“It’s definitely something we have been working on … We were doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and that is getting out and running,” M’Baye said. “The wings are running the floor and the bigs are running the floor, so we had some breakaway opportunities.”
A difficult pace to maintain, sure, but the Sooners got what they wanted.
“There were a lot of good shots,” Kruger said.
Plenty enough to win big.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.