Clashing with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Jimmy V Classic, the Oklahoma Sooners possessed an opportunity to make another statement. Exchanging blows early and often, Lon Kruger’s squad claim a first half lead before returning for the second round of the bout. Coming down to the wire, it was Christian James leading the program to a seventh victory, this one an 85-80 decision.
In the early going, the Sooners utilized a flurry of three point attempts to soften up the defense. Without Jamuni McNeace in the middle, the coaching staff opted to stretch the floor with shooters. Connecting on 7-of-11 shots from beyond the arc during the first half, Brady Manek and Aaron Calixte remained a perfect 5-of-5. The effort produced a 43-36 halftime lead. However, the contest was far from over.
Pulling to within one point, ND’s Prentiss Hubb made a layup on an assist from TJ Gibbs. Retreating to play defense, the Irish simply failed to stop Christian James.
Scoring the final seven points of the game for the Sooners, the leader of the pack collected a game high 25 points. Adding ten rebounds to his resume, the guard recorded the first double-double of his career. Taking over the game, James clearly had plenty of help throughout the earlier portion of the outing.
Manek continues to shoot at an impressive conversion percentage. Knocking down 60% of his shots, the forward netted 17 points of his own. Joining in on the fun, Calixte reminded a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor for 12 points.
Carrying the load off the bench, Matt Freeman came alive. Stepping back and knocking down a few three point attempts, the Aussie collected 11 points in the win. But, it was the team effort to chase shooters of the three point line that led to the victory.
Defensively, Oklahoma held the opposition to a dismal 28% from beyond the arc. Assuming the trend continues, this team may surprise a few conference foes. For now, the Sooners improve to 7-1 with the Wichita State Shockers up next.