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November 4, 2009

Sooners blow out UBC from long distance

Jeff Capel's Oklahoma basketball began the post-Griffin era inside Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday night by routing the University of British Columbia 93-53.

The Sooners were led, as expected, by super sophomore Willie Warren, who poured in a game-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field.

If Tuesday night's performance by Warren was any indication, those types of numbers will be duplicated quite often during the 2009-10 season. Warren didn't hit a single three-pointer on the night, and only attempted two shots from beyond the arc.

Most of his damage was done driving into wide open lanes. Lanes that were much clearer this season with the absence of Blake Griffin.

"That's one thing that I didn't do as much last year," said Warren following the exhibition win. "We had Blake down there drawing double teams so it was clogged up a lot. Without the big fella down there getting all the attention and double teams, it was easier for us to penetrate and kick."

Many onlookers were also interested to see how Warren would handle an increased load running the offense and he delivered in that aspect as well, as he didn't turn the ball over all night while doling out five assists.

But the most eye-popping number for this Sooner team in their first live-action this season came from beyond the three-point stripe. If one exhibition game can predict the future, this group of Sooners will be trouble for opponents from long range.

As a team, the Sooners hit 13-of-23 three-pointers, and ten of those shots came in the second half.

Freshmen Steven Pledger and Tommie Mason-Griffin both converted 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc, while Cade Davis was perfect on the night hitting 2-of-2.

"I think we have a good shooting team. The one thing we do is chart our shots in practice and just about every day in practice we've shot the ball very, very well. I think that can be a strength of this team," said Capel. "We're going to shoot threes this year man, that's going to be something that we do."

Freshmen Tiny Gallon carried the Sooners in the paint collecting nine rebounds and scoring 10 points in his debut. Gallon showed solid instincts under the basket, although the 300-pounder had a little trouble keeping gas in the tank according to his head coach.

"He has to have the mindset that every rebound needs to be mine. Our team needs that and if he can do that and learn how to do that consistently, that helps us become better," said Capel. ". I thought Tiny got off to a good start and I thought he got a little bit fatigued, which is normal for a freshman."

Ryan Wright started the game for Oklahoma on the interior, but another freshmen, Andrew Fitzgerald, ended up logging more minutes than any other big man on Tuesday evening.

Fitzgerald also scored in double figures in his debut putting up 10 points and logging five rebounds.

The Sooners led just 38-26 at halftime, but the three-point barrage during the second half put the game away early and the Sooners never stopped bombing from beyond the arc.

"It was good to play against someone else," said Capel. "This game tonight will give us a great opportunity to have a great film session tomorrow and to look at some things that we did well and some things that we didn't do well. I think we have a lot of both.

"I'm glad we won and we did do some really good things. We looked about how I expected us to look early in the season, being our first game with so many young guys."

The Sooners now look forward to their official season opener against Mt. Saint Marys, but they'll have plenty of time to prepare. The opener is set for Nov. 14th.

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