Griffin helps Oklahoma pull away from gritty Gardner-Webb, 69-55
NEW YORK (AP)—Freshman Blake Griffin led a balanced Oklahoma offense with 17 points, and the Sooners overcame poor shooting and defensive lapses to beat Gardner-Webb 69-55 Friday night in the third-place game of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
Longar Longar had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Sooners (4-1), who led 24-22 at halftime and by four with 5:27 left before slowly pulling away. Tony Crocker added 11 points.
Oklahoma shot just 34.5 percent from the field in the first half before hitting 12-of-24 in the second half. The Sooners also turned around a startling rebound disadvantage at halftime by pounding the glass over the final 20 minutes.
The undersized Runnin’ Bulldogs (3-2), who shocked the nation by upsetting Kentucky just to reach Madison Square Garden, stayed close by consistently hitting 3-pointers. They were 6-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first half and just 2-of-17 from inside it.
Grayson Flittner hit six 3-pointers, three of them late in the game, and led Gardner-Webb with 18 points. Takayo Siddle and Nate Blank had 13 apiece.
Oklahoma built its lead to 10 early in the second half before Gardner-Webb coach Rick Scruggs made a line change, putting five fresh bodies in the game. Siddle ignited a run with a pair of 3s around a short jumper, and after Aaron Linn hit another 3 and a jumper the lead was clipped to 51-47.
But when Scruggs put most of his starters back in the game, Oklahoma again powered ahead. David Godbold buried a deep 3-pointer from the wing and Griffin added a basket in the lane to make it 57-47 with just over 4 minutes left.
Scrappy Gardner-Webb never gave in, pouncing on loose balls and a couple of times cutting the lead to single digits. But the tiny school from Boiling Springs, N.C., eventually went cold from beyond the arc—shooting 24 3-pointers in the second half alone—and couldn’t overcome the depth and size of the Sooners.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs don’t have much time to catch their breath, though. They head to Radford on Saturday for their fourth game in five days, before a rematch of a 78-66 semifinal loss to Connecticut on Tuesday in Storrs.
The Huskies played No. 3 Memphis later in the final of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.