"First of all, it's always good to get a win," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "I thought we did some good things out there today."
Not only did the Sooners get a boost, though, from playing on their own court, but they also got a spark from a young player that hadn't scored in their four previous outings.
Guard Calvin Newell came off the bench and led the way for the Sooners, managing career highs with 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting from behind the arc in 17 minutes playing time.
Originally, he wasn't necessarily coming in for his point production, but rather to shut down SSU game Sultan Toles-Bey, who started off strong and finished the evening with a game-high 21 points.
It just turned out that Newell became a scorer throughout the contest.
"Yeah, basically he had nine straight points and Coach wanted me to come in and get him off his hot streak," Newell said. "And once I did that, the defense turned into offense."
Newell was one of two Sooners in double figures.
The other was veteran guard Cade Davis, who finished with 15.
Besides those two's scoring output, though, the main storyline of the game was OU's defensive performance.
They held the Hornets to only 35.2 percent shooting, as the visitors managed to knock down only 19 of their 54 attempts from the field.
"Oh yeah, that's been our key focus the whole time, all year long," Davis said. "You know, we're not going to be a team that goes out and outscores, you know, people. We're going to have to play defense and play solid and keep the other team from scoring."
And that's basically what they did, aside from giving up 11 points in the first 4:13.
"I thought defensively, with the exception of a couple plays early, I thought we were pretty solid throughout," Capel said.
After trailing 11-10, OU used an 11-0 run to expand a double digit lead midway through the first half.
They led by as much as 12 in the first half and were eight points to the good at intermission.
As the game wore on in the second half, OU continued to mount a bigger advantage, thanks in large part to nearly 54 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.
"In the second half, I thought we found a better rhythm offensively," Capel said. "We had some opportunities in the first half, we just didn't finish plays strong. I thought we settled for some jump shots when we had opportunities to drive inside and finish some plays. I thought we did a better job in the second half."
That was the main reason OU extended its margin to as great as 17 with 6:31 left.
From that point, OU kicked it into cruise control on its way to getting back to .500.
The victory is the Sooners' 25th straight against non-conference foes at home, and they're 83-2 in their last 85 attempts.
OU now gets nine days off before taking on Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. CT on Dec. 30 at Lloyd Noble Center.
More postgame coverage and analysis: