, Muskogee, OK

November 30, 2013

Senior sparks OU to victory over Arkansas-LR

By John Shinn
CNHI News Service

— NORMAN – A year ago when Cameron Clark caught the ball beyond the 3-point line two things quickly crossed the Oklahoma forward’s mind: give it up or drive. Facing the basket and taking a shot rarely crossed his mind.

That has obviously changed. The senior forward scored 22 points with 12 coming from beyond the arc Friday in the Sooners’ 101-81 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock at Lloyd Noble Center.

Expanding his range was the biggest goal Clark challenged himself with since last March. The senior had shot just 31.5 percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore and junior seasons. His confidence was down so much that he only attempted one 3-pointer (he did make it) last season.

Friday, Clark hoisted eight and he’s still shooting 50 percent (9 of 18) from 3-point range.

“I couldn’t even tell you. I think this is the first time,” Clark said when asked when was the last time he shot eight 3-pointers in a game. “I’ve just been working on my game, trying to perfect my game. I stretched it out to the 3-point line, and I did a good job of knocking them down today.”

It was a case of riding the hot hand. Clark’s scoring output topped 20 points for the third straight game and upped his average to 19.3 through six games. With the expanded range, points have not been a problem.

The Sooners were counting on that going into the season. OU coach Lon Kruger said as early as last March he was counting on Clark to grow into a top-end scorer this season.

“It’s great to see him get the results that he is because he’s worked so hard and invested so much time since last spring, summer, fall in preparation for his senior year,” Kruger said. “In the past Cam has kind of deferred to the older guys. To see him stretch out there and let it go and be more aggressive… We’ve talked about it for a while, but it wasn’t anything we did. It’s the result of Cam putting the time in to have the confidence to do it. He’s doing that.”

But Clark hasn’t had to carry the Sooners (5-1) on the offensive end. All five of their starters scored in double digits Friday. Buddy Hield scored 17 points, Jordan Woodard finished with 16, Isaiah Cousins contributed 14 and forward Ryan Spangler chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

OU shot 46.5 percent (33 for 71) and were 12 for 28 from 3-point range. The 101 points were the most since scoring 103 on Baylor in 2005 and the first time it reached the century mark since 2009.

Arkansas-Little Rock (2-4) was within striking distance the first eight minutes, but OU used a 19-9 run, which started with a 3-pointer from Clark with 10:31 left in the first half to seize control, by late in the first half.

It was an up-tempo game throughout. The Sooners led 59-44 at halftime and the lead never dipped under 11 in the second half.

Will Neighbour led the Trojans, who shot 40 percent (26 for 65), with 16 points. DeVonte Smith, who went to Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, added 12.

It was an offensive game. The Sooners had overwhelming firepower.

“Characteristic of this group is they’ve been very unselfish. They haven’t been concerned about the stat sheet. They keep moving the ball. They want to get the ball to people and get good results. A lot of people are doing that,” Kruger said. “It’s good to see a lot of plays being made for each other, and guys stepping up and knocking down shots.”