Crocker leads No. 4 Oklahoma past Coppin St, 93-62
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Oklahoma was looking for a fast start on Saturday, and Tony Crocker was more than happy to provide it.
The junior guard scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the opening half, helping the fourth-ranked Sooners roll to a 93-62 win over Coppin State.
Four days earlier at Arkansas, the Sooners (13-1) lost for the first time when they fell behind 21-8 early and trailed by as many as 25 before mounting a frantic comeback.
Although Coppin State (2-11) did not figure to present a challenge for Oklahoma, coach Jeff Capel was adamant about his team opening the game with more energy.
“We definitely wanted to get off to a good start—play with a sense of urgency. I thought we did that today,” said Capel, whose team opened with an 11-2 run and never trailed.
Crocker, who hit six 3-pointers and scored 18 points in the loss to Arkansas, played a key role early by burying a 3 just 16 seconds in, and added three more 3-pointers before the half. Crocker’s fourth 3 of the half pushed OU’s lead to 31-11, and Willie Warren followed seconds later with another 3-point basket that kept the Lloyd Noble Center crowd on its feet.
“It was important for us to get going early. We knew that’s always important,” Crocker said. “When that first (3-pointer) goes down it’s always a good sign. After our last game, it felt good to help get us going a little bit quicker.”
In all, the Sooners connected on seven of 14 3-point attempts in the opening half and eventually settled for a 45-23 lead at the intermission.
While Crocker and company were shooting well from the perimeter, Blake Griffin dominated in the paint. The sophomore forward collected 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half and eventually recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Griffin credited Crocker’s outside shooting with opening up the middle.
“When (Tony) is shooting like he is, they’re forced to come out and guard. Like today, he just kept hitting and hitting,” Griffin said. “That opens up everything because guys start to shift their focus a little bit more to the (whole) team.”
Oklahoma, which shot 54 percent from the field, had five players score in double-digits, including Warren with 14, Omar Leary with 11 and Ray Willis with 10. The Sooners also outrebounded the Eagles 48-29, led by Griffin and his older brother Taylor, who combined for 22 boards.
The Eagles were led by Tywain McKee with 20 points. Despite also getting 16 points from Brian Chesnut and 13 from Michael Harper, Coppin State shot only 36 percent from the field.
The Eagles used a 10-4 run to cut their deficit to 38-23 with just over three minutes left in the first half, but that’s as close as it would get. The Sooners closed the half on a 7-0 run and dominated the rest of the way, leading by as many as 33 in the second half.
Capel played mostly reserves over the final nine minutes, as Oklahoma improved to 13-0 all-time against Coppin State, which is traditionally known for playing a rigorous non-conference schedule under longtime head coach Fang Mitchell.