Pledger Leads Comeback in Exhibition Opener

After trailing for most of the second half, the Sooners used a late surge in the final five minutes to move past the Northern State Wolves 75-64 in their exhibition opener.

"First of all, I'm proud to get a win, pleased with that," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "Northern State's a team that works really hard. They're well coached. They run their stuff. They defend you, and you have to give credit to those guys. They played a really good basketball game, led for a good part of the game."

In fact, the Sooners trailed from the 1:29 mark in the first half on until 8:46 was remaining in the game and Cade Davis hit a jumper from the right elbow.

The Wolves briefly retook the lead, but that's when guard Steven Pledger knocked down a shot from the right side to regain the lead for OU at 58-57, their first advantage since holding a 28-26 lead with just less than three minutes to go in the first half.

They never trailed again, surging on a 17-7 run from that point on to close the door.

"The main thing is at the end we fought through and pulled together and ended up with a win," Davis said.

The play of those two guys, Davis and Pledger, were one of the biggest reasons they were able to do so.

Although he didn't have a good shooting night--Davis was 4-for-13 from the field--he managed 14 points and a lot of those at key times.

Pledger had a game high 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting, firing from trey land just three times where he hit one and scoring the rest of his points inside the arc and from the free throw line.

"Yeah, it's a lot [of growth in his game]," Capel said. "I mean, you guys saw last year. You know, he didn't make threes. He didn't do anything. And, you know, I thought he did a nice job there. Steve's a guy that, you know, whether he comes off the bench or starts, he's going to play starter minutes. He's a starter for us and is one of our better players. I thought he did some really good things for us tonight."

And so did some of the youngsters, including freshman guard Calvin Newell and freshman forward Abdul Ahmed.

"Those guys gave great energy," Capel said. "And, you know, for a guy like Abdul, who hasn't played up to that point until the last seven minutes. We were in foul trouble. You know, we had Tyler Neal, who was hurt, who got hurt there in the first half, couldn't play anymore. And I thought Abdi did a great job of coming in and providing energy."

Along with Newell and Ahmed, another pair of freshmen saw action, including guards Carl Blair and Cameron Clark, both of which started.

Clark added nine points and Blair had three.

Sophomore forward Andrew Fitzgerald provided 13 points, and forward Tom Parks led the way for Northern State with 13.

NSU took advantage of a back-and-forth first half that featured three ties and eight lead changes, emerging with a 33-29 lead at intermission.

The Sooners led by as many as seven in the first half, sprinting out to an early 16-9 lead, but they could not extend it after struggling on the defensive end, had to battle back throughout the remainder of the game.

OU next takes the court at 7 p.m. CT Friday, Nov. 12, at Lloyd Noble Center.

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