Sooners Claim All-College Classic Crown

OKLAHOMA CITY — It was one of those nights where he just couldn't miss.

Guard Steven Pledger seemingly hit every shot he attempted, going 10-for-13 overall on the night and 4-of-5 from downtown on his way to 31 points, as he guided the Sooners to their first Ramada All-College Classic victory since 2008 with a 79-74 triumph over the Houston Cougars.

"It's just going through the offense," Pledger said. "I know I can score off our offense and give the credit to my teammates for getting me open."

And it was good he did.

The Sooners trailed by nine points early in the second half until Pledger scored six of the next 10 for OU to help erase that lead.

In a span of 4:30, OU fought back from down 53-44 to tied at 55.

"At that point, I really felt good about the responses of the guys," said OU head coach Lon Kruger. "And defensively, they turned it up a little bit, created some offense, strong defense."

Houston later regained a 5-point advantage at 62-57 with 8:42 remaining, but that's when OU really picked up the defensive intensity.

It took 3:05 before Houston converted another field goal, while OU hit a pair of shots and free throws to regain the lead for the first time since early in the second half.

The Cougars led just twice more before OU took over command in the final five minutes.

"I thought our possessions in the last three minutes, both defensively and offensively, were really good," Kruger said. "We got the shots we were looking for, got to the free throw line a few times, and kept them to one shot...I thought the quality of possessions there late--we hit a three there to put us up five--was a real critical part."

OU put the icing on the cake when forward Tyler Neal made two free throws with 13 seconds left to make it a three-possession game at 78-71.

Along with Pledger, guards Cameron Clark and Sam Grooms, as well as forward Andrew Fitzgerald, all finished in double figures at 14, 10 and 10, respectively, for the Sooners.

But the three combined to go just 13-of-35 from the field.

So, it was good that Pledger was an efficient as he was.

"Overall, it was a great night for him," Grooms said. "I think he was very much into it. He found open spots in the flow of our offense and allowed him to get to the sweet spots. He made shots tonight. He did a lot of things out of the ordinary."

Three Houston players finished in doubles, including guard Jonathon Simmons, who led the way with 20.

Guards Joseph Young and Darian Thibodeaux added 10.

The Cougars actually outshot OU 44.1 percent to 42.2 percent, but committed 13 turnovers to just nine for the Sooners.

OU, the nation's eighth best rebounding team, was nearly out-boarded on the glass, but barely won that battle 40-37.

"I still thought we could've rebounded better and kept them off the offensive boards, but still had some good stops at critical times," Kruger said.

The Sooners (8-1) now have a few days off before facing South Carolina State at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday inside Lloyd Noble Center, while Houston gets back onto the hardwood Tuesday against UTSA.

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