, Muskogee, OK


December 22, 2013

Woodard sparks Oklahoma past A&M

HOUSTON — Oklahoma had relied on its offense so far this season.

The Sooners showed a new facet to their game Saturday night against Texas A&M, relying on its defense and switching to a 1-3-1 zone that gave the Aggies offensive issues.

Jordan Woodard had 20 points as the Oklahoma won its seventh straight with a 64-52 win over Texas A&M.

Frank Booker added nine points off the bench, and Tyler Neal chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Spangler grabbed 13 rebounds for the Sooners (11-1).

“We just wanted to rely on our defense,” Woodard said. “We had a couple breakdowns, but our defense came through in the end.”

Oklahoma finished shooting 39.6 percent from the field and connected on 16 of 20 from the free throw line.

The Sooners held a 50-39 edge in rebounding that led to a 19-6 advantage in second-chance points.

“I think quite a few guys rebounded well,” Neal said. “That’s been a big thing that coach (Lon Kruger) has talked about when we are in that 1-3-1 is rebounding, so we can get out and run.”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said they played the 1-3-1 zone a little in the Sooners’ 91-89 win over UT-Arlington Tuesday, but it would be a good change of pace for the Sooners.

“They weren’t shooting the ball with confidence,” Kruger said. “They were not shooting the ball like they can. We hadn’t planned on playing that much zone coming in, but it turns out we played more zone than man. We hadn’t done that on the year.”

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said the zone gave the Aggies some problems.

“You have to give Oklahoma credit, they played a 1-3-1 zone that they hadn’t played but maybe 10 possessions all year,” Kennedy said. “We weren’t prepared for it like we needed to be. I told the team that’s my fault.”

Jordan Green had 10 points to lead the Aggies (8-3), which saw its two-game winning streak snapped.

Fabyon Harris chipped in nine points, and Kourtney Roberson added seven points and 13 rebounds for Texas A&M, which struggled from the floor, shooting 26.9 percent and hitting just eight percent from behind the arc.

“You’re going to have nights like that offensively,” Kennedy said. “The way our guys played defensively with their effort. We have to play better on the offensive end and finish the effort on the defensive end.”

The Aggies hit their first 3-pointer — a Jamal Jones triple with 18 minutes left in the first half — and missed the next 20 attempts before Jones hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

“We have capable guys who are capable of shooting the ball well,” Kennedy said. “We just didn’t make shots.”

The Aggies failed to get within five points, with the last time coming with 12:46 remaining in the game on a Harris jumper that cut Oklahoma’s lead to 33-28.

The Sooners responded by outscoring Texas A&M 15-6 over the next 5  1/2 minutes to take a 48-34 lead on a Spangler putback with 7:15 remaining. Woodard had five points during the run.

Oklahoma’s lead grew more, reaching 19 at 54-35 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Neal and Booker with 5:45 remaining.

The Aggies got no closer than 12 the rest of the way.

The 52 points was a season-low for points allowed by the Sooners and marked the second time this season Oklahoma has allowed less than 60 points.

“It wasn’t good as we were doing,” Kruger said. “Things were not smooth offensively. Credit A&M for that. It’s good to win a ball game on a different way. When you’re not making shots that you normally do on the year, you have to do other things. You have to rebound the ball pretty well and defend.”

Both teams struggled from the floor in the first half, with Oklahoma shooting 39 percent and Texas A&M hitting just 5 of 34 shots for 14.7 percent, including 1 of 12 from behind the arc.

Oklahoma used a 7-0 run to open up a 23-14 lead on a Woodard jumper with 3:37 remaining in the first half. Neither team scored over the final 3:37, combining to miss the last eight shots of the half and four turnovers.

Green said the Oklahoma zone should not have played as big of a role in Texas A&M’s offense as it did.

“We had open shots,” Green said. “You are a Division I basketball player, so you have to knock it down. No matter what they are in, they are open shots.”

Texas A&M was playing without reserve guard J-Mychal Reese and assistant coach John Reese, who were dealing with an issue within their family, the men’s basketball program said Saturday. J-Mychal Reese was averaging seven points a game in 16 minutes a contest.

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