The Norman Transcript

December 2, 2013

Early run sends Sooners past Bears

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s hot shooting extended to Monday night with its 96-82 victory over Mercer at Lloyd Noble Center.

It was supposed to be one those surprise tests OU faces every season. Mercer wasn’t a scheduled victory as much as it was an RPI builder. The Bears went 24-12 last season, won the Atlantic Sun Conference and returned just about all of its team intact. This season it had already taken Texas to the wire and beaten Seton Hall.

It was a tight game for a little over 4 minutes. Then OU hit Mercer with a 14-0 run out of the first media timeout and never looked back.

“We got them to miss a couple shots and that got the pacing going. We stirred it up with a couple traps during that stretch,” OU coach Lon Kruger. “Once the pace got going, we got into a pretty good offensive flow.”

That might have been an understatement. The Sooners (6-1) upped their season scoring average to 88.7 points through seven games. When scoring more than 77 points, they’re undefeated.

There was little chance of scoring less because OU put together several runs like the one it unleashed a little over 4 minutes into the game.

The oddity of the game was Mercer (5-4) was the biggest team OU has faced this season. They consistently had 6-foot-10 center Daniel Coursey and 6-11 center Monty Brown on Spangler. Neither could keep up with the 6-8 post, who burned them for a career-high 20 points to go with 13 rebounds.

“They were big, but I just tried to use my quickness,” said Spangler, who recorded a double-double in his second straight game. “Usually, I can get around guys if I just use my quickness.”

Spangler had 13 points and six rebounds in the first half. The effort helped give OU to a 13-point halftime lead. An 18-0 run to start the second half put the game away.

Buddy Hield, who matched Spangler’s 20 points, scored 10 in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half. Three of his five baskets came off an assist. The Sooners registered 17 on the night.

“It’s just better for the team when everyone is unselfish and we make plays for each other,” Hield said.

Point guard Jordan Woodard had a game-high six assists along with 13 points. Cameron Clark continued his hot shooting with 19 points and Isaiah Cousins added 10.

The Sooners led by as many as 31 points early in the second half, but Mercer whittled the deficit down at the end.

Brown led the Bears with 16 points. Phil Leonard added 12.

Mercer coach Bob Hoffman, an Oklahoma City native who spent two seasons as an OU assistant under Kelvin Sampson, and who spent nine seasons as Oklahoma Baptist coach, was hopping for a little better homecoming.

“That was a serious butt-whooping from the beginning against a really good team … They throw to each other, they share it with each other and they just jump up and shoot it,” he said. “They make shots. It’s not real complicated.”

OU was rewarded for not taking the Bears lightly.

“This group has been pretty consistent with their getting each other ready to play and their energy coming out of the blocks,” Kruger said. “They’d watched enough film to know (Mercer can) execute things pretty well and had a lot of size … Mercer was a good team and I think our guys recognized that.

“That’s kind of a credit to them.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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