Sooners outscore Simon Fraser 52-32 after halftime behind point guard Leary.
Sept. 2, 2007
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Ahead by nine points at halftime, the Oklahoma men's basketball team shifted offensive and defensive gears after intermission and easily put away Simon Fraser, 86-57, Sunday afternoon.
Four Sooners scored in double figures and Blake Griffin recorded his second straight double-double as OU moved to 2-0 during its four-game exhibition tour of Canada.
Griffin, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes Saturday night at the University of British Columbia, tallied 16 points and 11 more boards against Simon Fraser in 23 minutes inside SFU's West Gym. The freshman was 5-for-8 from the field and also added a game-high four assists.
Junior college transfer Omar Leary started at point guard for the second consecutive game and registered a game-high 18 points, four rebounds (all offensive) and three steals. The lefty was 4-for-8 from 3-point range and made all four of his free throw attempts.
Keith Clark finished with 16 points and seven rebounds while Longar Longar scored 10 points.
Oklahoma started the game well, taking a 6-0 lead and not allowing the Clan to score until 4:37 had elapsed. Four of OU's first six points came on flashy Griffin dunks. The Sooners held Simon Fraser to 2-for-13 first quarter shooting and used a 9-0 run over the final 2:12 of the period to take an 18-7 lead.
SFU, which lost to Air Force 67-60 on Saturday, came alive in the second quarter and outscored Jeff Capel's Sooners by an 18-16 count to draw within 34-25 at the break.
That's when Leary, Longar and Clark decided to start taking over on the offensive end. The trio combined for 17 of OU's 22 third quarter points and helped catapult the team to a 56-39 advantage through three periods. Leary and Longar each scored six points in the quarter while Clark added five.
"We started sharing the ball offensively in the second half," said Capel. "We were selfish in the first half and I think that's out of character for this group so far. We could not get into a flow, we were taking some bad shots and just weren't in a good rhythm.
"I thought late in the third and early in the fourth we were able to get into a rhythm. We did a good job of running the floor and hitting some 3's. Anytime you can go on a run like that, you're also defending well. We were able to create some easy baskets from our defense."
A 20-0 OU run over the first 5:30 of the fourth quarter is what Capel was referring to. The spurt ended any Simon Fraser hopes of making it a close game. Leary scored seven straight points during one stretch while freshman guard Tony Neysmith scored the next five to put the Sooners ahead 76-39.
Four of the Clan's six 3-pointers on the day came in the final 3:30 to get the final margin back under 30 points.
"I wouldn't say I was overhyped for yesterday's game," began Leary in explaining the difference between his play against British Columbia and Simon Fraser, "but I was anxious and a little nervous because it was our first game. I just think I settled in a little more today, let shots come to me. I just took my time."
OU shot .433 from the field and was solid from the 3-point line, going 10-for-26 (.385). In addition to Leary's 4-for-8 effort from beyond the arc, Clark and freshman Cade Davis were both 2-for-5.
For a second straight game, free throw shooting was a weak spot for the Sooners. OU was 18-for-29 (.621). Blake Griffin went to the stripe for 14 attempts but made just six. The Sooners also struggled at times in the turnover department, racking up 19 miscues.
OU's defense was stout most of the contest, forcing Simon Fraser into 24 turnovers and holding it to .355 field goal shooting. The Clan was 6-for-17 from long range (.353) and only 7-for-14 (.500) from the foul line.
"It was good to see Omar make some shots today. I thought he was terrific," said Capel. "Keith Clark was really good for us all day and made plays. This was another great experience for us and we'll learn from it."
Oklahoma has enough to wash their uniforms and grab a bite to eat before hopping back on the bus for its 11 p.m. CDT Sunday game at Trinity Western.
DEGREE IN CHEMISTRY
Omar Leary, a first-team All-American last year at Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College, is impressed with the way the Sooners have developed chemistry over the summer and early part of the fall. Following Sunday's game against Simon Fraser, Leary was asked why the team played better in the second half than the first. His answer revolved around the "team" concept.
"At halftime we stressed playing together," he said. "With that motto and with everyone having each others' back, I think we're going to be a hard team to beat. I know it's early, but if we know all of our defensive assignments, our offensive assignments and we're talking and communicating, I really think we're a tough team to go up against. When you have everyone on the same page and playing together, that's a strong force."
LIKE FATHER, LIKE FAN
Leary's dad, Ray, made the six-hour drive to Vancouver from Portland, Ore., to watch the Sooners this weekend. The elder Leary said he likes the way his son has meshed with the OU team thus far.
"It appears to be a great fit," said Ray in regard to Omar and Oklahoma. "His skill sets as a leader and as a manager appear to be what the team may be looking for. I believe he brings a kind of stability and grittiness that will be important at the point. He's very pleased with being at Oklahoma, very happy with the chemistry of the team and I think he thinks they can have a 20-plus-win season.
"Today I thought he felt a little more comfortable (than he did Saturday) and let things come to him. I also thought he played very good defense -- I've never seen him play defense like this before. That's inspiring. He seems to have the respect of his teammates, and if you're going to be at the point you better have that."