Rice left in the dust at Oklahoma

January 5, 2008 4:03:47 PM PST
With his team holding a 30-27 lead over Rice at halftime, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel still was not happy. "Our defense hasn't been worth a crap," Capel said on his way to the locker room.

The Sooners pleased their coach a little more in the second half, pulling away for a 61-49 victory over the Owls in the first meeting between the two teams in more than 50 years.

Blake Griffin tied his career high with 18 points and added nine rebounds to lead Oklahoma (11-3) to their fourth straight win. Austin Johnson added a dozen points and a career-high six steals, while Keith Clark came off the bench to contribute 11 points.

Both teams struggled to score in the opening half, with Oklahoma missing its first 11 shots from three-point range and Rice managing to make just 9-of-25 shots. Capel anticipated the slow start from Oklahoma following a week layoff since their double overtime win at West Virginia.

"Coach has been talking about it all week," said point guard Johnson. "He wasn't worried about it when we played West Virginia or Gonzaga. It's kind of harder because some teams play down to the opponent and I think that is what happened to us today."

"I talked to them about that last night and again right before the game," Capel said. "I thought we had decent energy to start the game, but I thought we got very deflated when we couldn't hit a shot outside of a dunk or a layup."

The Sooners outscored the Owls 16-5 in the first six-and-one-half minutes of the second half to take a 46-33 lead and Rice (3-10) got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way, suffering their third road loss of the week. The game came less than 48 hours after a defeat at Vanderbilt on Thursday night.

"Basketball really shouldn't be played on a Saturday afternoon," said Owls coach Willis Wilson. "I am very disappointed in our guys. I thought we had an opportunity today. It's disappointing that we didn't take advantage of it."

Despite Capel's complaints about the Oklahoma defense, the Sooners limited the Owls to 29 percent shooting and they are holding opponents to just 37 percent from the field this season. Oklahoma heated up to 50 percent in the second half and connected on four of their last 10 three-point shots.

Rice got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Paulius Packevicius and 14 points from Rodney Foster.

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