Foust leads Sooners to first round win over LSU

Oklahoma forward Brandon Foust goes up for a shot in front of Louisiana State forward Brandon Bass during the Sooners 70-61 NIT first round victory over the Tigers Wednesday in Norman. Foust scored a career-high 19 points in his first-ever start as a Sooner. OU will now travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a second round game against the Wolverines at 8 p.m. next Monday. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. — It was just like old times Wednesday night for Drew Lavender and Brandon Foust.

The freshmen duo, starting together for the first time since their high school days in Columbus, Ohio, combined for 34 points in the Sooners, 70-61, first round win over Louisiana State at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.

Foust, who led all scorers with a career-high 19 points in his first-ever start as a Sooner, scored eight points in a 10-2 run that helped OU break an 18-18 tie and give the Sooners take a 28-20 lead with 1:52 to go in the first half. LSU would never get any closer than six points from that point on.

"Coach told me before the game that he wanted me to get a double-double, and to go out and have a scoring mentality," said Foust, who fell three rebounds (7) short of a double-double. "That's what I did. I went out and tried to get to the bucket and ended up scoring some points."

"He just made shots and he has played well of late," said LSU head coach John Brady. "We knew we had to guard him. But he hit some jump shots that we had not seen on tape. He played well for them and he was the key. He was 2-for-2 from three and he was definitely the difference in the game."

Oklahoma led 30-22 at halftime and would later push the lead to 60-48 on a layup by Lavender with 4:54 to go, but the Tigers would make one last run.

LSU quickly went on an 8-2 run following Lavender's bucket over the next two minutes to cut OU's lead back six at 62-56 with three minutes to go. But that's when the Sooners took over the game from the free throw line making eight of their last nine attempts, including four by Lavender, over the final three minutes to seal the win.

Lavender finished with 15 points and five assists. Former OU recruit Antonio Hudson led the Tigers with 16.

In all, OU's freshmen quartet of Foust, Lavender, Lawrence McKenzie and Larry Turner scored 46 of the Sooners 70 points.

"I've never had four freshmen that I've had to depend on, " said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson, whose Sooners reached their seventh straight 20-win season. "If I were an OU fan I'd be excited about what we have to come. We're rebuilding here. We've won 20 games. To get 20 wins during a rebuilding year is incredible."

OU will now travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a second round game against the Wolverines at 8 p.m. next Monday.

"We obviously want to get to New York to play in the championship game," said Foust. "Obviously, we wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament, but now that we're in the NIT it's just fine with us."

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