Just before tip-off, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger implored his team to make good plays for each other. With an 18-point lead, Sooners’ forward Ryan Spangler gave a ‘yeah, boy’ to guard Dinjiyl Walker after a hustle play to keep possession in the final four minutes.
From top to bottom and beginning to end, Oklahoma made an impact statement with a 78-55 victory against No. 9 and previously unbeaten Villanova.
It was Kruger’s first top-10 matchup at Oklahoma.
Oklahoma won’t always shoot 54 percent from behind the 3-point arc, like it did Monday afternoon at the Pearl Harbor Invitational. But it clearly can, and if the Sooners do, they can play with anybody.
The No. 7 Sooners (6-0), which has now beaten Memphis on the road, Wisconsin and home and Villanova on a neutral court in the first six games of the season, came into the game shooting 44.6 percent from behind the 3-point arc – fourth in the nation.
Led by four 3s made by Buddy Hield (18 points) and Isaiah Cousins (19 points and a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc), Oklahoma used two big runs in to start each half to lead the game wire-to-wire outside of a tie that lasted only one possession.
Cousins added a career-high 10 assists and six rebounds in a coming out game for the Sooners’ guard as well.
Playing elite defense helped, too. Oklahoma was ranked in the top-four in field goal defense and 3-point defense and held Villanova to just 4-for-32 from behind the 3-point arc.
Oklahoma returns to action Saturday at home against Oral Roberts.
Spangler added his fourth double-double of the season – 11 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Woodard added 10 points, and Walker had 11 points off the bench while shooting 3-for-5 from behind the arc.