NORMAN — It was a 40-minute game, but it only took about three to layout how Oklahoma’s game against Tulsa was going to transpire on Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane couldn’t keep Sooner guard Jordan Woodard out of the paint and off the free-throw line. They turned in a methodical afternoon of watching Woodard penetrate and score, dish for an easy basket and force a foul.
It happened there were about 50 versions of that in the Sooners’ 101-91 victory over Tulsa at Lloyd Noble Center.
“I saw how they were defending me and really didn’t stop me too far in the front court,” Woodard said. “I took the chance to get into the paint. I found Spangler a couple times down low when they came up to defend me. Found Buddy one time. I figured if I could get into the paint, I could hit the shooters or get it to the shooters down low or get to the free-throw line.”
When it was all over, the Sooners’ freshman point guard had scored a career-high 24 points, largely on the strength of a 17-for-22 effort from the free-throw line, and dished out eight assists.
The Sooners (9-1) rode Woodard like a racehorse and Tulsa (3-7) didn’t really have an answer. The performance was no surprise to the Golden Hurricane.
The game was a battle of the Woodards. Jordan’s older brother, James, led Tulsa with 19 points.
The difference in the game was the free-throw discrepancy. The teams combined for 78 free-throw attempts. But Tulsa only took 30 of them. The Sooners were 34 of 48 and outscored the Golden Hurricane by 15 points there.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a game where somebody shot 22, NBA included,” Tulsa coach Danny Manning said.
The Sooners needed the free-throw attempts because the were playing shorthanded. They knew going into Saturday it would be there first game without backup point guard Je’lon Hornbeak. Then forward Ryan Spangler suffered a calf injury in the early going and only played 12 minutes.
His absence showed in the first half as OU only led 40-38 at the intermission.
Then, the Sooners heated up when the second-half began. Buddy Hield scored 10 of his 23 points in a 5 1/2 minute span that allowed them to sezine a 60-51 lead with 14:20 to go.
The lead got as big as 18 in the second half. Tulsa never really threatened again.
“My teammates got me the ball in good spots where I could make plays and I stayed aggressive,” Hield said.
Offensive aggression led to free throws that that became the goal Saturday. The Sooners shot 48.3 percent (29 of 60) from the field. Tulsa shot hit 30 of 63 attempts (47.6 percent).
With about three minutes to go, a fan in south end of the arena yelled out to the officials the teams had already combined to shoot 70.
It got a chuckle from what remained of the crowd, but the Sooners didn’t have a problem with it because it had Jordan Woodard on their side.
“Jordan was in control of a lot of the game with his attack and getting into the paint. With the new rules, it’s just hard to stay in front,” Kruger said. “Someone with Jordan’s combination of strength and quickness is hard to keep in front of you defensively. He has a great feel for making plays once he gets his head and shoulders by. He can draw the foul or make the play for someone else.”
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