Tahlequah Daily Press

December 31, 2012

Oklahoma tops Ohio 74-63

By JEFF LATZKE
Associated Press

— NORMAN — Steven Pledger scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, Amath M’Baye and Romero Osby added 16 points apiece and Oklahoma pulled away in the second half to beat Ohio 74-63 on Saturday night.

Cameron Clark had back-to-back dunks in transition to spark a 15-2 run by the Sooners (8-3) and put the game away after Ohio had cut an 11-point deficit down to four. Pledger followed with a fall-away jumper and a 3-pointer from the right wing, and the lead eventually got as big as 71-54.

D.J. Cooper had 14 points and seven assists to lead the Bobcats (8-5), which matched their season-worst with 18 turnovers and went 8 for 26 from 3-point range. Reggie Keely scored 13 points and Walter Offutt chipped in 11 points.

Oklahoma bounced back from a loss to Stephen F. Austin and kept from losing two straight non-conference home games for the first time since November 1997. The Sooners had won 36 straight nonconference games at the Lloyd Noble Center, and 94 of 96, before the rare defeat.

The Sooners never trailed again after breaking a halftime tie by going on a 12-3 run to start the second half, getting easy points off of missed 3-pointers and turnovers. M’Baye had a steal and a fast-break layup and then another layup off a lob during the stretch, pushing the lead to 41-32 with 14:56 remaining.

Pledger then hit four straight shots, including his first 3-pointer in his last 12 attempts, to keep the Bobcats at bay. Buddy Hield followed with a steal for a transition layup and M’Baye banked in a spinning right-hander for a 54-43 edge.

Pledger started the game 1 for 7 before finding his stroke in the second half. He missed his first five 3-pointers after going 0 for 6 from behind the arc in Oklahoma’s 56-55 loss to Stephen F. Austin.

Oklahoma capitalized on the Bobcats’ turnovers for 22 points and shot 23 free throws compared to seven for Ohio.

The Bobcats returned their top nine contributors from last season when they won a school-record 29 games and made the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 under the current format before losing to top-seeded North Carolina. But they have yet to find their footing under first-year coach Jim Christian, who was brought in from TCU after John Groce left to become Illinois’ coach.

Ohio has lost five of its last seven games and has fallen to 0-4 on the road. Turnovers have been a common thread, with at least 17 committed in four of the five losses.