"It's good to be home"

After a sluggish start, the Sooners eventually did what everyone expected them to do, as they pulled away from the Arkansas Razorbacks on their way to a 67-47 victory Wednesday night in front of 10,612 at the Lloyd Noble Center.

SI Game Coverage
* "It's good to be home" (Game Story)
* Report Card
* Sooners Find Their Stroke
* Box Score
* Game Thread

"Well, first of all it's good to be home," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "I thought this was—especially the second half—was the best defensive effort that we had [this season]."

The Sooners used that defensive effort to battle back from an early Razorback run.

The Razorbacks took the crowd out of the game as they surged out to a seven point lead in the first 10 minutes and led by seven with four minutes to go in the first half, in large part due to nifty play by guards, junior Jemal Farmer and sophomore Rotnei Clarke.

But the Sooners caught fire from that point on into the intermission as they hit a string of threes—capped off by a buzzer-beating trey by freshman guard Steven Pledger—that gave them a 34-27 halftime advantage.

"We hit a stretch there, maybe the last four minutes, where we started making some shots," Capel said. "We got some movement. We were able to get out in transition. We were able to get the lead, and we were able to get the crowd into it a little bit."

And OU continued that run coming out of the gates in the second half, as it opened by scoring the first five points of the second half.

The Razorbacks never got closer than eight again.

While Arkansas chopped the lead from 18 to nine with just more than eight minutes left and ultimately to eight with about five minutes left, the response was positive, considering what happened in Alaska last weekend against Houston.

"When we had that 18-point lead, again, I thought we relaxed a little bit and they cut it to nine, and we called a timeout," Capel said. "I was really proud of our guys for how we responded. You know, we were up 18 against Houston, and they made a run, and I thought we gave into it. Tonight I thought we showed a little bit of toughness."

When Arkansas snuck within eight, OU scored the next nine points, seven of which came from sophomore guard Willie Warren.

Senior Tony Crocker had a career-high night with 16 rebounds in the contest, and he was also the leading scorer at 16 for the Sooners.

"They have athletic guys and Coach [Capel] was saying we have to box these guys out and go purse every ball because they shoot a lot of threes and stuff," Crocker said. "So I was just trying to get as many rebounds as I could."

Freshman Marshawn Powell led the Razorbacks with 12, which was surprising considering their own leading scorer, sophomore Rotnei Clarke, was held to only 11.

OU junior guard Cade Davis locked him down in the contest, as Clarke hit shot only 1-for-6 from behind the arc in the contest, down from his season average of 5.8 three-pointers and 26.7 points per game.

"Coach gave me that opportunity tonight, and coming in we knew his stats," Davis said. "We knew he was shooting the ball really well. I think he's leading the country in three-point percentage, so I took it upon myself to try to limit his shots, and obviously we came out with the win."

With the win, OU moves to 4-3 on the season and awaits Arizona in the Pac 10/Big 12 Challenge at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories