If not his weather, it was definitely Hield’s day.
As he was walking through the handshake line at the end of the Oklahoma’s 78-53 victory against Southeastern Louisiana, Hield was told that his seven 3-pointers without a miss was an Oklahoma record that also matched the Big 12 mark. Hield turned to see a Southeast Louisiana player shaking his head. He felt bad, but Hield’s game-high 25 points helped Oklahoma lead wire-to-wire.
“I can’t turn down a wide-open shot,” Hield said. “(My teammates) find me in good spots. It’s thanks to them. They find me in the right spots.”
After forward Ryan Spangler scored the first basket of the game in just 14 seconds, Hield knocked down his first 3-pointer of the game. Oklahoma scored on each of its first six possessions, 16 unanswered points to open the contest, to make easy work of the Lions (0-2).
Hield, who was 2-for-8 inside the 3-point arc and 0-for-2 in the paint, also had seven rebounds. He did it all in just 28 minutes – a little more than a half.
“The guys did a good job of getting him the ball in rhythm,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “He kind of got a couple in transition. He had a couple off the dribble. He had a couple from Isaiah and Jordan. So, he got it a lot of different ways actually.”
Hield hit five 3-pointers in the first half and would have had an eighth make had he not stepped just inside the 3-point line on one deep jumper in the second half.
Spangler (11 points and 11 rebounds) and Isaiah Cousins (14 points and 10 rebounds) each recorded a double-double for Oklahoma as the Sooners dominated the first half on offense and surprisingly on defense as well.
Oklahoma held Southeast Louisiana to just 24.2 percent shooting the first half, and the Lions missed 12 3-pointers. The Sooners led 42-19 at halftime. Showing a surprising care for the ball, the Sooners, who played 12 players, committed only one non-offensive foul turnover in the first 16 minutes of the game.
“It’s always good when you can start a ballgame like that,” Kruger said. “I thought on both ends, we really opened it sharp. We made shots and had good effort and awareness defensively. We sustained that margin the rest of the ballgame.”
Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas also saw action for the first time with Oklahoma, which never led by less than 21 points in the second half. Thomas found out Saturday night that he would be immediately eligible to play for the Sooners.
Kruger immediately inserted him into the starting lineup.
“In addition to his talent and ability his maturity level and his leadership, he’s a three-year starter and his experience is huge,” Kruger said of Thomas. “This adds a really good player to our squad and our guys are excited, of course.”
Thomas didn’t have the best day on the stat sheet (2-for-6 with three rebounds and four turnovers), but his teammates noticed his immediate impact.
“Tay’s a better all-around player,” Hield said. “He’s so mobile. He can drive it. He can kick it. He can shoot it. He can also post up. Him on the court helps us a lot sharing the ball and making plays for everybody.”