Sooners impressive in Capel's Oklahoma debut

Sophomore Austin Johnson (pictured) scored a career-high 18 points in Oklahoma's 99-36 win.

Norman, Okla. — The Jeff Capel era got off to a fast and furious start Friday night with a 99-36 win over Norfolk State.

Playing without their returning leading scorer Michael Neal, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension, Oklahoma didn't miss a beat as they began the game with a quick 9-0 run that led to a 54-20 halftime lead.

Austin Johnson scored 18 first-half points and the Sooners' full-court and half-court pressure defense forced 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes to set the tone.

"We're really excited about the win tonight," said Capel, whose Sooners' 63-point win ties for the eighth-largest win in school history. "I thought we had a great start and I thought a big part of that was Austin Johnson. He really came out of the gates and got us going. He hit some shots but he really made some good passes in transition.

"Our defense was pretty terrific. We were really energetic and really excited to go at the beginning of the game. We need to have that same energy for every game. We may have some games when we don't make shots but we still need to have that same energy on the defensive end."

In all, every Sooner who saw the court scored and five reached double figures as OU shot a blistering 58.5 (38-65) percent from the field. Oklahoma held Norfolk State to just 24.6 percent shooting (15-61) from the field, and the Spartans' 36 points were the lowest scored in school history.

Joining Johnson, in double figures were true freshman Tony Crocker with (15), Longar Longar (14), David Godbold (13) and Nate Carter came off the bench to add 11. Even Kellen Sampson got into the act hitting back-to-back 3-pointers late in the game to finish with six points.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Amarillo Texas who hit his first five 3-point attempts in the first half, finished with career-highs in points (18) and assists (9).

Longar, Taylor Griffin and backup guard Chris Walker tied for the team-high with seven rebounds.

In addition to his seven boards, Griffin added eight points, one block and one steal. Six-foot-9 freshman big man Keith Clark also added eight points off the bench, as well as a game-high three blocks and two deep NBA range 3-pointers.

"I thought (this win) was what we needed," said Capel. "We talked about it as a staff. I said, ‘I really hope we can get off to a great start.' A.J. really had it going, (David) Godbold got a steal and easy basket for a dunk. I thought that gave our defense even more energy. We contested just about every shot.

"We did some good things but we still have a long way to go."

Up next for the Sooners is a matchup against Liberty next Thursday in Norman. Tip-off inside the Lloyd Noble Center is set for 7 p.m.

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