Blake Griffin and Longar Longar combine for 38 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocks.
Sept. 1, 2007
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The game didn't count toward the regular season, and his performance perhaps wasn't quite Sam Bradford-esque, but freshman forward Blake Griffin's first competition as a Sooner helped the Oklahoma men's basketball team to an 81-62 win over the University of British Columbia Saturday night inside War Memorial Gym on the UBC campus.
Griffin, the highly touted true freshman forward who was a high school All-American last year, finished with game highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds on 7-for-13 shooting. He added three blocked shots and a pair of steals on the defensive end in just 21 minutes of action.
"I thought Blake was terrific," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "To have as many points and rebounds as he did in that short of time speaks volumes. I thought he did some very good things offensively."
Griffin was one rebound shy of a double-double in the first half alone by registering 10 points and nine boards in 12 minutes.
"Blake's a big kid and loves to be physical," said Capel. "The great part about it is that he's going to continue to get better."
Senior center Longar Longar was also a major presence in the paint, providing 17 points (on 8-for-13 shooting) and five boards. His six rejections helped hold the Thunderbirds, who were 33-6 last year and advanced to the Canadian Intersport Final Eight, to .323 field goal shooting on the night.
Governed by international rules, the game was played with a trapezoid lane, a 24-second shot clock and a 3-point line measuring 20 feet, six inches.
The unfamiliar conditions didn't seem to faze the Sooners, as they never trailed. OU jumped out to a 4-0 lead on baskets by forward Taylor Griffin and point guard Omar Leary, and didn't look back. Capel's squad extended its margin to 22-10 after one quarter and to 38-25 at halftime.
The third quarter was OU's best offensively as it registered 25 points. Blake Griffin (10) and David Godbold (eight) combined for 18 of the 25, including the team's first 13 of the period. The duo's production was enough to give the Sooners a 63-39 lead with a quarter to go.
Behind the hot hand of UBC guard Chris Dyck, who made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the Thunderbirds rallied to cut their deficit from 24 to 12. But late 3-pointers by Cade Davis and Keith Clark pushed OU's lead back to 19 (78-59) with 1:24 to go.
Said Capel, "I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. We had good energy in the first half. We didn't shoot it well early from the outside, but we did a good job getting the ball inside and I thought our defense played well, especially in the first quarter.
"For most of the second half I thought we performed well," he added. "We started working on our zone a little bit later, and that's an area where we were not very good. We need to improve there. Overall, though, I'm really pleased with our effort. We saw some things we have to do better and that's what this trip is all about."
In addition to the combined 38 points from Blake Griffin and Longar, three other Sooners reached double figures in scoring. Clark, Godbold and Davis all finished with 11 points. Taylor Griffin added seven, Omar Leary two and Tony Neysmith one. Leary and Neysmith each ended with five assists and two turnovers.
Dyck paced the Thunderbirds with 15 points while Bryson Kool added 12.
"Overall, I felt like the game went pretty well and I was pretty happy with how we played," said Blake Griffin. "We found out a lot of things we need to work on, but it was just our first game."
When asked what he gleaned from OU's initial exhibition contest, Griffin added, "I want to sit back and let the next three games come to me more than I did tonight. I don't need to try to create as many things as I did in high school because we have so many good players here at OU."
The Sooners play a pair of games on Sunday, facing Simon Fraser at 2 p.m. CDT and Trinity Western at 9 p.m. OU finishes its exhibition tour of Canada on Monday at 11 a.m. CDT.
An audio webcast of Saturday's game against Simon Fraser will be available at http://lidc-dev.lidc.sfu.ca/athletics/broadcast/. Live stats can be found at http://cgi.sfu.ca/~athlwww/livestats/bball/xlive.htm.
BETTER LATER THAN NEVER
After struggling from 3-point range in the first half, both teams were markedly better after halftime. OU was 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes before rebounding for a 6-for-14 (.429) performance in the final 20. David Godbold (seven attempts) and Cade Davis (10 attempts) both made three treys on the night. Davis was 3-for-6 after the break. UBC was 0-for-6 before halftime and 5-for-9 after. Thunderbird Chris Dyck finished 4-for-8.
Albeit a quick one, sophomore forward Keith Clark endured a frightening moment late in the third quarter. Playing in his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee against SMU on Dec. 28 of last season, Clark was knocked awkwardly to the ground along the OU baseline late in the third quarter while retrieving a loose ball. Clark winced and slammed the ball to the floor in frustration as he rolled over. After rising, he gingerly ran to the other end of the court.
"I was going for the ball and my left ankle got kicked," recounted Clark. "Everybody thought it was my knee or something, but it was my ankle. It kind of scared me and I was like, 'No, not another injury...I'm just now back.' It really wasn't too bad, though. I knew it wasn't my knee and I knew I'd be okay because I didn't feel any sharp pains or anything serious."
On making his first game appearance in more than half a year, Clark said, "It felt good just to get out there to run around with my teammates, and to play someone other than ourselves."
IT'S IN THE GAME
Following its Saturday morning shootaround, the OU team eaglerly made its way to the EA Sports Canada campus for a 90-minute tour. EA Sports is the world's No. 1 developer and publisher of interactive entertainment. The company employs 7,800 people worldwide and 1,500 in Vancouver.
After visiting a portion of the 400,000-square-foot facility, the Sooners sat down and sampled a pair of video games -- "March Madness '08" and "NBA Live '08." The team was the first external party to view "March Madness '08," which will release later this year on Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2. "NBA Live '08" will hit stores Oct. 2.
The players saw the changes that are being made to this year's version of "March Madness" and were given a walk-through of how video games are made by lead game producer Sean O'Brien. O'Brien played basketball at Simon Fraser (one of Oklahoma's opponents on Sunday).
Four of the 10 Sooners who made the trip to Vancouver are sporting different jersey numbers than they will during the regular season. The practice jerseys of Keith Clark (will wear No. 00 during the season), Tony Neysmith (No. 2), Omar Leary (11) and Blake Griffin (23) were held up in customs in Mexico this week, according to team equipment manager Jon Denio. For OU's four games in Canada, Clark is wearing No. 1, Leary No. 20, Neysmith No. 5 and Griffin No. 21.