DALLAS — Eight minutes into Oklahoma’s season opener, nothing was going right. Shots wouldn’t fall and Alabama was getting layups whenever it wanted Friday at American Airlines Center. Despite a 16-point deficit, there was no panic.
“I didn’t know we were so down that much. I looked at the scoreboard and I was like, ‘Wow, we need to pick it up,’” OU guard Buddy Hield said.
The Sooners did in an 82-73 victory over Alabama.
It was simply a matter of staying calm when things were not going well. Despite the plethora of turnovers, bad shots and layups allowed by OU in the opening minutes, OU coach Lon Kruger let his team continue to play. He never called a timeout during the stretch.
“Early in the season you need guys on the floor to step up and kind of shore it up a little. They did OK with that. We took the timeouts when they came, we didn’t call any,” Kruger said. “But I thought the conversation among themselves was pretty good.”
Hield ended up scoring a team-high 19 points, and sophomore forward Ryan Spangler poured in 15 to go along with 12 rebounds. Those two were the ringleaders, but there was another addition to the lineup that proved invaluable Friday.
Freshman point guard Jordan Woodard scored 10 points and added a game-high seven assists in a team-high 34 minutes on the floor.
Woodard was only 2 of 11 from the field, but he made his way to the free-throw line three times, converting those six free throws into five points.
“He did a good job,” Kruger said of Woodard. “Every game for a while is going to be a learning experience for him in a very positive way. He’s a terrific young player. His ability to attack late and get to the free throw line was really big. We’ll lean on that a lot throughout the year.”