Sooners no match for top-ranked UConn

Oklahoma freshman point guard Drew Lavender takes the ball to the net over Connecticut's Taliek Brown, right, during the first half of the Huskies' 85-59 romp over the Sooners Sunday in Norman. Lavender led the Sooners with 22 points. (AP Photo/Steve Miller)

Oklahoma encountered their first major road test of the season on Sunday, and they failed miserably.

Connecticut center and All-American candidate Emeka Okafor looked like Shaquille O'Neal taking on a high school team as he dunked his way to 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked nine shots in the Huskies' 86-59 dismantling of the Sooners Sunday in Storrs, Conn.

The Huskies, who held Oklahoma to a season-low 27.4 percent shooting from the field, led by as many as 22 points in the first half and 40 points in the second half before the Sooners closed the game with a 14-2 run. The Sooners had been shooting 43.1 percent from the field through their first 10 games.

"We could talk for a half a day about the things we are not doing well right now, but they (UConn) are probably the best team we've played against since I've been here," said Oklahoma Coach Kelvin Sampson, whose Sooners fall to 10-1 on the season. "The talent level and the speed really got us. They have three lottery picks, and they are as good as it gets in college basketball."
Believe it or not, there was actually one point where the Sooners were in the game, but that didn't last much longer past the opening tip.

De'Angelo Alexander's three-pointer at the 17:18 mark gave Oklahoma their first lead at 7-5, but that would be as close as they would get as UConn then ripped off a 10-0 run to take the lead for good and a 13-0 run toward the end of the half to put the Sooners away.

"This might have been what this team needed," said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team falls to 10-1 on the season. "We got our butts kicked today, and we got what we deserved.

"We got a 30 point butt-kicking. This doesn't happen to us very often. This is an opportunity to learn something. I have seen how good teams this year have been whipped and have been able to bounce back, and we will do that."

Oklahoma's lone bright spot was freshmen point guard Drew Lavender. Lavender, who played a game-high 36 minutes, hit five three-pointers, dished seven assists, recorded three steals and led all scorers with 22 points.

But despite the fact that Oklahoma was handed one of the worst losses in the last 10 years, Sampson was upbeat about the teams' future.

"We can play better. I'm not going to overreact," Sampson said. "Players feel bad. The coaches feel bad, and it hurts because we have tremendous pride in our program. We will bounce back."

"This is a good learning experience for us. We will use this and turn it into a positive some way. It opens your kids eyes when they see a team like that, but we do know that we can be better."

Up next for the Sooners is their Big 12 Conference opener against in-state rival Oklahoma State Wednesday in Stillwater. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

OU-UConn Box Score

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