Oklahoma passed their first road test of the season Wednesday night in Tulsa, but it wasn't easy.
The Sooners, who led by as many as 19 points with 11:32 to go, were forced to hit free throws down the stretch to hold on for a 62-53 win to improve to 4-0.
"This experience was invaluable to us," said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "I'm glad we won, but also I'm looking forward to correcting some of these mistakes we made.
"This team is going to be fine. This experience is vital to us. We made a lot of mistakes that are correctable."
Terrell Everett led the way with a career-high 26 points, while junior guard Michael Neal came off the bench to add 14. Everett did most of his damage in the first half with 17 points as the Sooners built a 37-18 halftime lead. Neal also added 10 first half points.
Everett's layup at the 11:32 mark of the second half gave OU their largest lead at 47-28 lead, but the Golden Hurricane fought back with a 13-2 run to cut the Sooners' lead to 49-41 with 5:44 to go.
Transfer Nate Carter ended Tulsa's run hitting a 3-pointer and jumper to push the lead back to 12, but Tulsa cut the lead back to 56-48 with 48 seconds left.
However, from that point on the Sooners got three free throws by Everett and two more by Carter to seal the win. Carter finished with eight points and six boards.
Senior forward Taj Gray, who wasn't a factor in the second half due to foul trouble, finished with just four points and two rebounds. Gray played just 19 minutes.
"Your best player has to be on the court longer than 18 or 19 minutes," said Sampson on Gray's performance. "Sometimes it's not how good you play, but how smart you play. If you have fouls beware of it. If you have four fouls don't go clubbing guys. Don't ever try to avoid mistakes, learn from them. This could be the best thing that has happened to Taj."
It was also a tail of two halves for Oklahoma. The Sooners shot 53.8 percent (14-26) in the first half, but struggled in the final 20 minutes hitting only 26.7 percent (8-30).
Oklahoma also recorded a season-high 15 steals and out-rebounded Tulsa 40-24. Kevin Bookout led the way with 10 rebounds.
Next up for the Sooners is a trip to Philadelphia for a matchup with fourth-ranked Villanova. The game will tip-off at 4 p.m. and be televised nationally on ESPN.
OU-Tulsa Box Score
OU passes first road test with win over Tulsa
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
OU's recruiting role reversal?The role reversal in Norman in terms of a recruiting class that goes from Bob Stoops to Lincoln Riley.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 9:12 AM
Riley's contract highlights OU's raisesLincoln Riley is going to make $3.5 million in a five-year deal.
Sooners IllustratedTuesday at 4:43 PM
Tavion Thomas commits to OUOU's claim as RBU adds another with Scout 300 RB Tavion Thomas.
Sooners IllustratedTuesday at 2:13 PM
Skip Johnson named skipper for OU baseballOU stays in the family, promoting Skip Johnson as Sooners next baseball coach.
Sooners IllustratedMonday at 4:43 PM