Northern Colorado no match for Gray, Sooners

Oklahoma forward Taj Gray dunks in the first half of the Sooners' 80-44 win against Northern Colorado Saturday in Norman. Gray led the Sooners with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

NORMAN — Junior forward Taj Gray scored a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds as Oklahoma improved to 6-1 with an 80-44 rout of Northern Colorado Saturday in Norman.

Gray, who threw down five dunks was 10-for-12 from the field, led a hot-shooting Sooner squad that shot 58.6 percent from the floor in the first half and finished over the 50 percent mark (51.7) for the sixth time this season.

"I think I'm learning by just being out on the floor and playing," said Gray on his performance. "I'm crashing the boards and playing very tough defense. Every time I go out there I want to play tougher than the opponent and out rebound him. The more I'm on the floor, the more I feel like I learn."

"I think Taj Gray is a great basketball player," Norther Colorado Head Coach Craig Rasmuson. "I have no doubt that he'll play at the next level. All he needs to improve on is his perimeter game. Hakim Warrick of Syracuse is not as aggressive as Gray is. He is the best power forward we have faced. It is amazing how well Gray and Bookout play together after only being teammates for a short time. Gray is a special player."

Northern Colorado led 7-4 early on, but a 9-0 run gave the Sooners the lead for good and a 19-4 run over the last three minutes and 48 seconds of the first half pushed the lead to 44-24 at halftime. Jaison Williams hit two threes to start the second half and the rout was on.

"I think OU is a very good team," Rasmuson said. "When they got after us and played with high energy, they were the best team we faced. Syracuse didn't get after us defensively like OU did today."

Joining Gray in double figures were Williams (14), Terrell Everett (13) and Kevin Bookout (11).

Williams was 4-of-9 from three-point range, while Everett led Oklahoma with a career-high seven assists. Lawrence McKenize added nine off the bench, all on 3-point shots.

One other positive note, the Sooners finished with a season-low 12 turnovers after averaging 16 through their first six games. Oklahoma's defense forced 22 turnovers, and their 44 points was a season-low.

"I saw a lot of good things tonight," said Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. We made a lot of shots tonight and I thought our kids did well. I just thought it was a dominant defensive performance. We played aggressively."

Next up for the Sooners is a matchup with 9th-ranked Duke next Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"Our first thing is to finish up strong academically during finals week this week," Sampson said. "We tend to forget that these kids are students and the reason they're here is to earn an education. We'll really start getting after it at practice on Tuesday to get ready for Duke in New York."

Tip-off for OU-Duke is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oklahoma time and will be broadcast by CBS.

OU-Northern Colorado Box Score

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