NORMAN — A year ago when Cameron Clark caught the ball beyond the 3-point line, two things quickly crossed the Oklahoma forward’s mind: give it up or drive. Facing the basket and taking a shot rarely crossed his mind.
That has obviously changed. The senior forward scored 22 points with 12 coming from beyond the 3-point line Friday in the Sooners’ 101-81 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock at Lloyd Noble Center.
Expanding his range was the biggest goal Clark challenged himself with since last March. The senior had shot just 31.5 percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore and junior seasons. His confidence was down so much that he only attempted one 3-pointer (he did make it) last season.
Friday, Clark hoisted eight and he’s still shooting 50 percent (9 of 18) from 3-point range.
“I couldn’t even tell you. I think this is the first time,” Clark said when asked when was the last time he shot eight 3-pointers in a game. “I’ve just been working on my game, trying to perfect my game. I stretched it out to the 3-point line, and I did a good job of knocking them down today.”
It was a case of riding the hot hand. Clark’s scoring output topped 20 points for the third straight game and upped his average to 19.3 through six games. With the expanded range, points have not been a problem.
The Sooners were counting on that going into the season. OU coach Lon Kruger said as early as last March he was counting on Clark to grow into a top-end scorer this season.
“It’s great to see him get the results that he is because he’s worked so hard and invested so much time since last spring, summer, fall in preparation for his senior year,” Kruger said. “In the past Cam has kind of deferred to the older guys. To see him stretch out there and let it go and be more aggressive… We’ve talked about it for a while, but it wasn’t anything we did. It’s the result of Cam putting the time in to have the confidence to do it. He’s doing that.”