With 9:27 left in their first round game of the Sooner Invitational, OU found themselves in a tight game with the UC-Irvine Anteaters.
The Sooners led 58-51 and were in desperate need of an offensive spark against an Irvine team that trailed by 15 only a few minutes ago.
At this critical moment of the game, OU didn't turn to Hollis Price, Ebi Ere or Quannas White; they turned to Jabahri Brown.
Brown, who was limited to only six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, isolated his man just off the baseline and made a strong turn towards the paint with a baby-hook that fell as he was fouled. The ensuing free throw made the game 61-51 and the Sooners never looked back.
On the next possession, Brown made his presence felt once again as his steal led to a fast break that ended with an Ebi Ere 3-pointer that made it 64-51 and basically put the game away.
This game was a vindication for Brown. Some fans were skeptical of Jabahri's offensive game even after his 16-point performance against Athletes First in the Sooners' final exhibition game on Sunday. Jabahri's 11 points, six of which came on soft jumpers, might help to quiet some of the doubters as well as prove that a summer spent working on offensive moves will have been well worth the sweat.
The Sooners ended the game on a 29-14 run which could be attributed to two factors: OU athleticism and Irvine jet lag. The final nine minutes of the second half featured circus passes, alley-oops and three-pointers from all over by Oklahoma and a whole bunch of short-tugging by the Anteaters.
Another theme displayed by the Sooners tonight was balance. All five starters, Brown, Hollis Price, Quannas White, Ere and Kevin Bookout, were in double figures, with Ere leading the way by pouring in 14.
It was Ere who might have had the ultimate highlight of the night.
With five minutes left in the first half Price lofted a pass to Ere from outside the 3-point line and Ebi threw it down with more ferociousness than any Sooner since Andre Wiley roamed the baseline. It was one of many dunks on the night as both Brown and Larry Turner got in on the aerial show.
Leading the way for the Anteaters was their center, Adam Parada. Parada poured in 19 points before being relegated to the sidelines with a bloody lip late in the second half.
Irvine will face Western Michigan tomorrow at noon in the consolation game while OU will return to action against Princeton at 2:00.
Princeton, coached by John Thompson III, son of legendary former Georgetown coach John Thompson, advanced by beating Western Michigan 62-59.
BMart's Player of the Game
Jabahri Brown (11 points, four rebounds and one steal).
BMart's Play of the Game
Ebi Ere's alley-oop in the first half from Hollis Price.
OU-UC Irvine Box Score
Late OU Rally Buries Anteaters
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