NORMAN- Oklahoma took another step toward earning a bid in the NCAA Tournament Saturday.
Fueled by Brady Manek’s 30 point performance, the Sooners beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 82-69 in the season’s first rendition of Bedlam.
Manek was excellent from the jump, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes of the game.
Sooners Coach Lon Kruger said Manek’s hot start to the game provided a boost to the entire team.
“It was huge,” he said.
Sooner forward Austin Reaves said entire team benefits when somebody starts off as fast as Manek did.
“It opens everything up when [Manek] is shooting the ball like that,” Reaves said.
“At that point we just want to keep getting it to him and he can get up as many [shots] as he wants.”
Manek credited his teammates for his fast start.
“We were just attacking the defense well,” he said.
“I happened to be the guy open on a lot of those, and they found me and I was knocking them down.”
Reaves and Alondes Williams provided a spark for the Sooners with back-to-back-to-back dunks to ignite the Lloyd Noble Center. Defense led to offense, allowing the Sooner duo a trio of uncontested dunks, pushing the lead to 12.
The early flurry by Manek, aided by the impromptu dunk contest, helped push the Sooner lead comfortably to double digits with six minutes left in the first half.
It would remain as such for the rest of the game.
“They got off to a really good start,” Kruger said.
“It was probably for 40 minutes, overall probably one of the better efforts on both ends of the floor that we’ve had.”
Bouncing back from a dreadful shooting night against Kansas State, the Sooners combined to shoot 50 percent from the floor, and 39 percent from behind the arc.
Spurred by the early success, Reaves especially was able to get back on track against the Cowboys.
After a rough month shooting, Reaves shot efficiently from the floor. Reaves scored 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
Reaves wasn’t concerned about getting himself going, it was just a by-product of doing whatever it took to help the team, he said.
“[I] just wanted to bring energy and do whatever it took to get us a win,” Reaves said.
Williams continued to be Oklahoma’s best offering off the bench.
Since the loss against the Bears, Williams has played well for Oklahoma, performing on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Finishing with 12 points against the Cowboys, Williams was Oklahoma’s third highest scorer.
“Really happy for Alondes,” Kruger said. “It’s kind of like a new person in the rotation when you have Alondes playing like that.”
“He gives us an extra punch for sure.”
Kristian Doolittle, the third member of Oklahoma’s “Big Three”, had a productive night despite only finishing with six points.
Tallying 10 rebounds and seven assists, Doolittle embraced the role of distributor, penetrating Oklahoma State’s zone and finding open teammates.
“[Doolittle] in the middle of the zone found some guys on the perimeter in good rhythm right off the bat and I thought that set the tone for the entire night,” Kruger said.
Doolittle’s first bucket against the Cowboys also pushed him over the 1,000 career points mark for the Sooners, just weeks after Manek reached the same milestone.
“It’s pretty cool,” Doolittle said. “I didn’t really focus about it, we still had a game to win.”
The Sooners will now hit the road again, as they travel to Texas Tech in their next outing on Tuesday night. Tip-off against the Red Raiders is slated for 8 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.