Sooners bounce back with win over Minnesota

Minnesota's Spencer Tollackson drives around Oklahoma's Kevin Bookout during the first half of the Sooners' 67-54 win over the Gophers in the third-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout on Saturday. Bookout and guard Terrell Everett led the Sooners with 13 points. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

Oklahoma isn't leaving Alaska with a championship, but the trip was a successful one as far as Kelvin Sampson is concerned.

"Mission accomplished," said Sampson, whose Sooners locked up third place in the Great Alaska Shootout with a 67-54 win over Minnesota Saturday night. "We're leaving here a much better team than when we got here."

The Gophers jumped out to a 17-13 lead, but the Sooners closed the half with an 18-9 run to take a 31-26 halftime lead. Oklahoma then turned up the defense and started the second half with a 15-2 run to open up a 46-29 lead with 14:42 to go in the game.

Minnesota would later cut the lead to 50-35, but the Sooners then used a 13-4 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 63-39 with 6:37 left. Oklahoma then went on a five minute scoring drought, but the Gophers would never get any closer than 13 points.

"With about three minutes left in the first half we started playing great defense," said Sampson. "The last five minutes of the first half and the first 12-14 minutes of the second half, we were great on defense."

"Tonight was the first night I thought our defense looked good," Sampson continued. "Brandon Foust is just now learning how to play the three spot. Terrell Everett is still learning. We're not going to be a great defensive team right now, but we can be. We bounced back today and got a lot better."

In all, the Sooners held Minnesota to just 37 percent shooting from the field (20-53) and 16 percent from three-point range (2-12). Oklahoma shot 53 percent from the field and outrebounded the Gophers 34-27.

Kevin Bookout and Everett led the Sooners with 13 points apiece, while Drew Lavender also reached double figures with 12.

"The two keys today was what Brandon Foust did in the first half," Sampson said. "He gave us some defensive identity and toughness. Longar Longar was the MVP of this game. He came in and sparked us. We were flat. We didn't get out of team meetings until 1:30 (AM) last night and the game today started at 3:30 (PM). I said somebody's got to go in and give us a spark, and that was Longar."

Longar, who along with Foust started the second half, finished with two points, six rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes of action. Foust chipped in seven points four rebounds and one steal.

"This team has a high ceiling. We're only going to get better and better," said Sampson. "We played against a ranked team last night, beat a Big 10 team tonight and beat a team in High Point that was favored to win their conference. We're leaving here feeling good."

The Sooners will return to action this Wednesday at the Lloyd Noble Center against Coppin State.

OU-Minnesota Box Score

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