By John Shinn
NORMAN — The opening tip foreshadowed how the rest of the game played out. Referee John Higgins threw the ball up and promptly got smacked in the mouth.
Oklahoma’s 69-65 victory over Northwestern (La.) State Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center was a bruising affair. Anyone who got near the paint with the ball paid a price for it.
“It was really physical, but I guess most of our games have been like that,” said forward Romero Osby, who led the Sooners with 11 points and eight rebounds. “I guess that’s why it was such a low-scoring game because it was physical on both ends. We tried to make them pay if they got passed somebody, and they were doing the same with us.”
Osby was just 1-of-8 from the field. Nine of his points came from the free-throw line. OU escaped because it was able to get to the charity stripe 28 times and converted 20 of them. The Demons (3-3) were 15 for 18 from the free-throw line.
The game’s largest lead was just seven points, but Northwestern State was up by six after Shamir Davis, who scored 10 points hit a pair of free throws with 5:35 to go.
OU didn’t give up another point until Brinson White hit a layup with 28 seconds left.
Those baskets included Je’lon Horbeak’s 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining that gave the Sooners a 64-63 lead. With 54 seconds to go, Amath M’Baye completed an alley-oop from Steve Pledger to lift the lead up to 66-63.
Pledger and point guard Isaiah Cousins both had nine points. Andrew Fitzgerald and M’Baye finished with eight and Hornbeak tossed in seven.