Sooners Dominate Paint in 92-65 Win

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners dominated the boards by a resounding 61-27 margin and they rode that advantage to a 92-65 victory over Coppin State Friday night in front of 3,889 at Lloyd Noble Center.

"It is great to see that not only the big guys, but the guards stepping back in there and getting some rebounds as well," said head coach Lon Kruger. "We've got to do it as a group. It starts with the big guys, but the perimeter guys have to be conscious of getting back in there and picking up some long rebounds, too. Guys have done a good job of focusing on that in practice and they will continue to do that."

Forward Romero Osby, a transfer from Mississippi State, recorded his second straight double-double and anchored the rebounding attack with 10 boards to go along with his 11 points.

"Coach always preaches rebounding," Osby said. "You know, as we get into the Kansases and the Missouris, there are better teams. That's no knock on Coppin State; they did compete really hard. But we just wanted to go out and send a statement and rebound as hard as we can. We've been working on it for a couple of months. I'm glad it's finally starting to show off."

It really started to show off for fellow forward Andrew Fitzgerald.

He registered eight rebounds after mustering just one in the opening game.

"It was a big challenge for me," Fitzgerald said. "Some of the coaches came up to me and were telling me, ‘At least get five rebounds today.' I wanted to get more. I put more of an effort towards rebounding and trying to get it today to help my team win this game."

And it certainly looked like the Sooners collectively worked throughout the week on putting together a more complete rebounding performance as a whole.

Safe to say it paid off.

Center Casey Arent grabbed nine boards of his own, while forward C.J. Washington snagged eight, and as Kruger alluded to, the guards battled on the glass, with guards Sam Grooms and Cameron Clark bring down four each.

Not only that, but the Sooners outshot the Eagles 45.6 percent to 36.4 percent and won the paint battle 34-18.

So, it was an all around complete effort.

"It was a good opportunity to check about making some progress," Kruger said. "I thought our guys opened the ball game really sharp; we made some progress against zone. Good days in practice. Guys moved the ball well, rebounded the ball extremely well."

OU took the lead for good after briefly trailing 3-2 early.

The Sooners led by as much as 35 midway through the second half.

Guard Steven Pledger played his first game of the regular season and responded by leading the team in scoring with 20 points.

"It felt good," Pledger said. "To be honest, I was kind of nervous. I don't know why, but I think it was just because of the first game with the fellas, the first game back and it counted. So, I was a little nervous. But we came out with the win, and I liked it."

Guard Calvin Newell also finished in double figures with 14, as did Fitzgerald, who missed out on a near double-double with his 10 points.

The Sooners return to action in the 76 Classic at 10:30 p.m. CT Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.

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