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March 4, 2013

OU’s Sam Grooms on a mission

NORMAN — Oklahoma point guard Sam Grooms played like he was on a redemptive mission Saturday. It wasn’t the jump shots he made or even the 19 points he scored in the Sooners’ 86-69 victory over Iowa State Saturday that mattered most.

The senior wanted to prove he can still keep his team clear of trouble in the harshest of circumstances.

“I had a lot to prove. I’m pretty sure my teammates believe in me. But, by the same token I don’t want them to ever second-guess me, think that Sam will turn the ball under pressure. I don’t want them to ever feel that way,” Grooms said. “I wanted to come out here and play as hard as I could and show them that I could bounce back from it. This is the real way Sam plays.”

If the “real” Grooms keeps playing like he did Saturday, the Sooners (19-9, 10-6 Big 12) could be one of the best offensive teams in the Big 12 Conference.

Saturday’s victory was OU’s fifth straight game with at least 79 points, and fourth in a row with 80 or more on the scoreboard. There’s a lot of factors that have contributed to the scoring outburst. The NCAA record-tying 34-for-34 performance from the free-throw line had a major impact, but there were other factors like the 17 assists, with six coming from Grooms’ hands.

“Guys have done a good job of moving the ball and handling it. That starts with Sam, of course,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “He did a terrific job again today. We expect that to continue. It’s nice to see that happen for him.”

Grooms took the loss to Texas last Wednesday especially hard. It was a total team collapse that caused the Sooners to blow a 22-point lead with less than eight minutes to go. Grooms, however, saw it as failure in his ability to direct the Sooners. He was only credited with four of the Sooners’ 16 turnovers. Nonetheless, the Sooners went into a free-fall and he couldn’t pull them out of it once Texas unleashed a frenetic press.

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