Forward Khadeem Lattin has given Sooners that final push

Offensively and defensively, the sophomore forward has rounded out Oklahoma's title hopes

Isaiah Cousins crept dangerously close to the first triple-double of his career. Buddy Hield was efficient from the field, shooting better than 50 percent for the fourth straight game.

Ryan Spangler posted another double-double, the 26th of his career, and Jordan Woodard was a deadly 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

Oklahoma has its stars, but what has really helped push the Sooners over the top is what they didn’t have last year and weren’t sure if they’d have at the start of this season. Oklahoma needed a rim protector and an energetic finisher on the offensive end. Enter Khadeem Lattin, who continues to be a big reason for Oklahoma’s complete rise to the top of the college basketball world.

“He’s made big strides in the last month,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said three weeks ago. “Obviously, it started on the defensive end, blocking some shots. With that came confidence offensively. . . . Then on the offensive end, it started with guys getting him some lobs to the rim. That got him some confidence.”

And it hasn’t slowed from there.

Since Kruger made those statements, just before Oklahoma’s victory against Oklahoma State, Lattin has turned into a dominant rim protector. He has blocked at least two shots in every game and has gone 12 games with at least one block.

Lattin has four games this season with at least six blocks, including a program-record eight blocks against Texas Tech. But against TCU, he showed the type of offensive player he can be.

Far more recently, Lattin said that the toughest part of breaking in with the core group of starters was finding his role, “figuring out how I could be most effective on the court and finding out how I could maximize my time on the court.”

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With each passing game, he seems to figure it out more and more. For a team that shoots from the outside so well, Lattin has been the paint production that Oklahoma needed badly.

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