No. 21 Oklahoma 83, Nebraska 60
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—After starting a game on the bench, the fire was back in Drew Lavender’s eyes.
The sophomore point guard scored 10 points in his first game out of the starting lineup and No. 21 Oklahoma ended a three-game losing streak with an 83-60 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday night.
Lavender had started all 53 games he played in at Oklahoma but had been criticized recently for poor play. In the Sooners’ 68-65 upset loss at Missouri on Saturday, the 5-foot-7 Lavender went without an assist for the first time in his career.
But after entering Wednesday’s game 7:39 in, he was able to get five steals before halftime as Nebraska was careless with the ball. He scored in double figures for only the third time in the Sooners’ last seven games.
“Drew played the way he’s capable of playing tonight,” Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. “God gives us all gifts. All we want our kids to do is play to the best of your ability. The worst thing that any person can say about another person is that he didn’t maximize his ability.
“Be the best you can be. If that’s not good enough, that’s OK, but be the best you can be.”
Terrell Everett had 18 points, Kevin Bookout scored 12 and Jaison Williams added 10 for the Sooners (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), who had lost four of their last five after a 10-game winning streak.
Sampson said he thought his team had lost some of its edge during the five-game slump, but got some of that back against Nebraska.
“When you lose your edge, these kids aren’t machines,” he said. “You can’t push buttons and they pop back.”
Sampson said he wanted the Sooners to pressure the Cornhuskers, and it resulted in a season-high 17 steals for Oklahoma and 26 turnovers for Nebraska — its worst total of the season.
“I think that’s how we like to play,” Sooners forward Johnnie Gilbert said. “That really gets us excited, putting pressure on the ball and getting turnovers.”
The Sooners built on a 20-point halftime lead with a 9-2 run and led 59-32 after Williams’ 3-pointer from the right corner. Nebraska (11-11, 4-7), which has lost seven in a row to Oklahoma, trailed by at least 20 points the entire second half until the Sooners put in reserves with less than 3 minutes to play.
Joe McCray had 21 points and Jake Muhleisen scored 11 for Nebraska, which suffered its most lopsided loss since a 76-51 defeat on its last visit to Oklahoma on March 8, 2003.
Guard Jason Dourisseau missed the game after reaggravating a sprained ankle. He missed two games earlier in Big 12 play with the same injury. Nebraska coach Barry Collier said he didn’t think the guard’s absence was a factor in the Cornhuskers’ turnovers.
“The turnover du jour spread around all over the court from player to player,” Collier said. “It wasn’t a situation where one guy would have corrected all of those.”
The Sooners scored 37 points off of the turnovers and ran away with the game after building a big lead early.
Taj Gray had two two-handed jams off alley-oop passes during a 10-0 run that put Oklahoma ahead 15-6. He started the spurt by taking a lob from David Godbold and dunking it with two hands and finished it with another slam after Everett passed it to him off the backboard.
Muhleisen’s 3-pointer from the right wing brought the Cornhuskers within 18-15, but Oklahoma responded with a 14-2 run to take a 32-17 lead on Lavender’s steal and fast-break layup.
The Sooners closed the first half with an 8-0 run—including six free throws—to lead 40-20.
Gray, Oklahoma’s leading scorer, had only eight points in 15 minutes before fouling out with 4:04 to play. He had been averaging 15.8 points.
“Taj had a game tonight where foul trouble just completely took him out,” Sampson said. “But we were rolling without him. That tells you about our team.”
Sampson said he hadn’t considered whether Lavender would continue in a reserve role or return to the starting lineup.
“It’s not important,” he said.