EVREUX, France -- After winning each of its first four games of its European exhibition tour by at least 18 points, the University of Oklahoma men's basketball team fell in its finale at Evreux on Thursday night, 80-70. Evreux is a Group B member of France's professional National Basketball League.
The Sooners trailed most of the night but rallied in the fourth quarter with an 11-1 run for a 68-63 lead -- their largest of the game -- with 6:10 remaining. But things unraveled from there as they were outscored 17-2 the rest of the way.
OU outrebounded Evreux 40-30 but was outshot 52.6 percent to 43.8. Evreux also attempted more than twice as many free throws (28-12).
"A terrific experience for us," said OU head coach Lon Kruger. "A very good team and a very physical game. We really hadn't had a physical game through the first four. So a lot of lessons to learn from this one and guys will benefit greatly.
"We had a really good stretch there offensively in the second half. We made some shots that helped turned the deficit into a lead. Then we didn't have as good of ball movement late, they got a little tougher and did things down the stretch a little better than we did. But again, it was such a good experience for our guys. It was a big, physical team and our guys learned a lot."
Senior guard/forward Cameron Clark led OU in scoring for the fourth time in five games. He finished with 15 points and added eight rebounds. He finished the tour averaging 16.8 points (on .521 shooting) and 7.0 boards.
Joining Clark in double figures were sophomore Ryan Spangler (12) and sophomore Je'lon Hornbeak (11). Senior Tyler Neal and freshman Jordan Woodard netted nine points each, while sophomore Isaiah Cousins added eight and junior D.J. Bennett six.
Spangler pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and was followed by Clark, Cousins (6) and Hornbeak (5). Hornbeak and Woodard paced the team with three assists each, and Woodard logged three steals, giving him 12 over the last three outings.
The game was tightly contested throughout and featured physical play and frequent whistles, especially against OU. Intentional fouls were called against both teams, one of them against Evreux when Neal was blindsided into his team's bench while running down the sideline.
"It was definitely different than our first four games from a physicality standpoint," said Neal, who averaged 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over the final three games of the trip. "You never want to lose, but many times in a loss there are things you can learn as a team, such as taking a five-point lead late in the game to double digits instead letting the other team regain the lead. You can't simulate those situations and I think it's good that it happened because it didn't in the first four games. It was especially good for our young guys who will be contributing big minutes this year."
The Sooners, who led by no more than three points in the first half (12-9), trailed 25-18 after the first quarter and 45-39 at the half. They were down eight (60-52) late in the third quarter before making their move.
Evreux displayed a balanced scoring attack, with eight players tallying between seven and 11 points.
Despite Thursday's defeat, Kruger raved about OU's 10 days in Europe.
"A fantastic trip," he said. "On the court, terrific for our guys individually and as a group. A lot of guys from a confidence standpoint really grew. And this last ball game kind of got our attention again in a positive way.
"And off the court, just fantastic. People in Belgium and France were very hospitable and friendly, and the guys enjoyed all of that as well."
Added point guard Woodard, "It was a really great experience. We got to play against some good competition, especially in our last game, against professional players. We bonded as a team and I feel like that was the most important result of the trip. For me, it definitely helped a lot. I feel like it really prepared me for our season, so it was very beneficial."
The Sooners return to Oklahoma on Friday, flying 10 hours from Paris to Dallas and then bussing to Norman. OU classes begin Monday.