Oklahoma Sooners forward Khadeem Lattin blocks eight shots in 91-67 victory

Complete performance on offense and defense leads to easy victory

NORMAN – Two steps back down toward the offensive end of the court and Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin raised his arms slightly and flexed his muscles.

He had another notch in his belt.

Weak-side help, on a lay-up, against a floater, stopping a put-back: Lattin had plenty of small gashes in his belt by the time Tuesday night’s game was finished. Lattin had a career-high eight blocks, and Oklahoma matched a program-best with 14 as the top-ranked Sooners sent Texas Tech back home after a 91-67 victory.

“You can get into a rhythm where you just time it well,” Lattin said. “I feel like I did that (Tuesday). The guards just kept wanting to come down there. I had to show them.”

Since the start of Big 12 play, Lattin has 34 blocks and just 39 attempted shots. He has a block in 10-straight games and at least two blocks in nine straight. After consistently into foul trouble in Big 12 play, Lattin had just two fouls Tuesday night, the lowest since Dec. 22.

He’s been watching more film, learning how he has fouled in the past and Tuesday night was his best block-to-foul ratio (4:1) of his career – twice any other single-game performance. Lattin is averaging 4.3 blocks per game in Big 12 play and was one block shy of the Big 12 record against Texas Tech.

“We don’t want to get beat, but we have a safety blanket there if for some reason he has to help,” Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said. “When you block shots it allows us to get out and go.”

The rest of Tuesday night’s pre-written script followed as expected.

The best 3-point shooting team in the country (Oklahoma) victimized the Big 12 Conference’s worst 3-point shooting defense. The Sooners went 8-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half before finishing at 52.2 percent from distance.

Buddy Hield set a program record with his seventh 30-point game of the season, and Oklahoma hit 10 3-pointers for the 13th time this year, tying a school record. And the lead kept growing until the final minute.

“What may go a little unnoticed is how well guys are passing the ball,” Oklahoma coachLon Kruger said. “They’re not just moving it to the next guy, but they’re giving it to them in a good spot accurately and in a good rhythm so guys are shooting shots in really good rhythm. That’s makes a big difference as a shooter. Guys are not only making the extra pass, but an accurate extra pass.”

Isaiah Cousins had 19 points, Jordan Woodard chipped in 15 and Spangler had 13, but offense has never been an issue for Oklahoma, which ranks seventh in the nation in points per game.

Lattin has given Oklahoma (17-2, 6-2), which held the Red Raiders to 32.4 percent from the field, right where it needed help – on the defensive end.

“It’s more than just the eight blocks,” Kruger said. “It’s a presence in general. It helps a lot.”

Watching film and figuring out how to block shots has helped with Lattin’s very natural, two-handed style. He can block shots with his right or left hand consistently and given Oklahoma a shot blocker it hasn’t had under Kruger.

In fact, Lattin might be Oklahoma’s best shot blocker in the last 20 years.

He is on pace for 79 blocks in the regular season alone. That would be the highest single-season total since the 1987-88 season.

“He’s got a pretty good feel for doing it without fouling,” Kruger said. “That’s hard to teach. I don’t know that you can teach that. It’s an instinct he’s got and he does it well.”


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories