Sooners rally back to win Kruger’s debut 78-74By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer Friday, Nov 11, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Calvin Newell scored a career-high 19 points, transfer Romero Osby had 17 points and 10 rebounds in his Oklahoma debut and the Sooners beat Idaho State 78-74 Friday night in Lon Kruger’s first game as the Sooners’ coach.
Barry Honore came up with blocks on consecutive possessions to spark the decisive 9-0 run for Oklahoma.
After floating in a jumper from the right baseline, Honore swatted away Abner Moreira’s shot and Carl Blair followed it with a 3-pointer from the right wing that gave the Sooners the lead for good at 56-54 with 9:44 remaining. Honore then blocked Chase Grabau’s layup attempt on the next Idaho State possession.
Kenny McGowen led the Bengals with 14 points, just two of them after halftime.
Oklahoma had to overcome a 10-point, first-half deficit to prevent Kruger from becoming only the second coach in school history to lose his first game. Instead, the Sooners won their ninth straight season opener and 17th consecutive home opener.
Idaho State has lost to a BCS conference opponent to start seven of the last eight seasons and is 0-24 against BCS schools under coach Joe O’Brien since 2006.
The Bengals didn’t go down without a fight, though.
Honore, who didn’t play at all in the first half, entered with a little over 12 minutes left and provided the key stops to help Oklahoma get ahead to stay.
After he sent Grabau’s layup attempt into the stands, Sam Grooms swiped the ball for a fast-break layup, and Tyler Neal’s putback of a missed Newell 3-pointer bumped the Sooners’ lead up to 60-54.
Oklahoma didn’t have a double-digit lead until Andrew Fitzgerald hit two foul shots with 88 seconds left to make it 73-63, then had to hang on after a series of missed free throws by Blair and Cameron Clark.
Grooms, a junior-college transfer, had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his Oklahoma debut. Blair scored 12 points.
The Sooners played without starting guard Steven Pledger, who served a one-game suspension for a secondary rules violation committed when he played in an impermissible pro-am game this summer
Dejan Kostur scored 12 points, Melvin Morgan finished with 11 and Grabau added 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Bengals stuck with Oklahoma early and then used a 13-3 run featuring a 3-pointer and a jumper from Sharrod Baldwin to build a 20-12 lead midway through the first quarter. The lead grew to 10 on a free throw by Jakub Kusmieruk, a 7-foot-4 transfer from Central Florida.
By that point, the Sooners had made only three of their 18 shots.
Osby had a two-handed jam that resulted in a three-point play in the middle of a 13-2 response as Idaho State went 4 1/2 minutes without a basket, and Casey Arent’s two free throws put Oklahoma back ahead 30-29.
Fitzgerald, Oklahoma’s top scorer a season ago, didn’t get his first points until hitting a jumper in the lane to put the Sooners back ahead after the Bengals had taken a 34-31 lead into halftime.
He finished with seven points.