Freshman Blake Griffin shines as Oklahoma beats San Francisco 71-55
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Freshman Blake Griffin, lauded as Oklahoma’s best basketball recruit in more than two decades, had 18 points and 13 rebounds Thursday night in the Sooners’ 71-55 victory over San Francisco in the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
Oklahoma (1-0) advanced to face Denver, which held off Division II East Central 76-75 in overtime, in the second round on Friday. The winner of the Norman regional will play No. 3 Memphis on Nov. 15 in the tournament semifinals.
The debut of Griffin, a 6-foot-10 center from Oklahoma City, was arguably the most highly anticipated for an Oklahoma freshman since Wayman Tisdale arrived in Norman in 1982.
Griffin didn’t disappoint, scoring his first points 10 seconds into the game and teaming with older brother Taylor to give the Sooners a potent one-two offensive punch. Taylor Griffin, a junior forward, finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Oklahoma has won 21 of its last 23 season openers and 54 of its last 55 nonconference home games. The Sooners went 16-15 last season, ending what had been NCAA Division I basketball’s longest streak of postseason appearances at 25 years.
San Francisco (0-1), which went 13-18 last season, took its first lead at 18-16 and led by as many as five points in the first half. The Dons went up 27-23 with 8:22 left after a basket by Dior Lowhorn, but didn’t score for the next 7 minutes as Oklahoma went on a 17-0 run.
Blake Griffin scored six points during the spurt and capped it with a fast-break dunk off an alley-oop pass from Austin Johnson. The Sooners led 40-30 at halftime, by which time Blake Griffin already had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Less than a minute after halftime, he threw down the third of his four dunks, starting a 9-2 run.
Lowhorn, a 6-7 sophomore playing in his first game since transferring from Texas Tech, led the Dons with 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting. Manny Quezada added 13 points for San Francisco, which went 2-of-20 from 3-point range.
San Francisco played without forwards Vince Polakovic and Jay Watkins. Watkins, a sophomore, is academically ineligible, while the university is working with the NCAA to determine Polakovic’s eligibility.