Oklahoma’s quality depth overwhelmed Creighton.
Brady Manek matched a season-high with 18 points, and the Sooners defeated the Bluejays 83-70 on Tuesday night.
It was a typical balanced effort for the Sooners. Christian James had his fourth straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, Kristian Doolittle and Rashard Odomes registered season highs with 13 points apiece and Miles Reynolds also scored 13 for the Sooners (10-1).
Five players scored in double figures, nine played at least 14 minutes and six had at least one assist. Oklahoma’s reserves scored 32 points in Lon Kruger’s 150th win as the school’s coach.
“This group is really starting to get a sense of what their individual roles are and kind of expecting each other to take care of what they do well,” Kruger said. “If everyone does that and expects the other guys to do that, it becomes a better team.”
Manek, a forward, made 7 of 10 shots and scored his 18 points in 17 minutes. He gave the guards credit for his numbers.
“I had guys finding me when I was open,” he said. “I was cutting to the hole and Aaron (Calixte) and Jamal (Bieniemy), they were just feeding me down there. Working as a team on the offensive end helped us win this game.”
Martin Krampelj had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Damien Jefferson added 16 points for the Bluejays (7-4). Ty-Shon Alexander, the team leader with 18.2 points per game, finished with nine. Mitch Ballock, Creighton’s No. 2 scorer with 12.8 points per contest, went scoreless.
Creighton, which entered the game leading the nation with 45 percent 3-point shooting, made just 7 of 30 (23.3) from distance.
“Creighton is a good ball club,” Kruger said. “They shoot it so well. Proud of our guys cutting into their percentages a little bit. Making them shoot a little tougher shot. They missed some open shots, but I think our guys pace defensively had a little effect on that.”
Ballock, a 50 percent 3-point shooter for the season before Tuesday night, missed all nine of his 3s. Oklahoma’s depth allowed the Sooners to maintain their defensive intensity throughout the game.
“Certainly, some of it’s them (the Sooners) — their length, their physicality,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “They’re tough defensively. Mitch Ballock had some good looks, six or seven probably,” he said. “If he throws in three or four of those, it’s a different game.”
Creighton led 10-4 early, but Oklahoma responded with a 20-2 run.
Manek hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to help the Sooners take a 47-33 halftime lead. Oklahoma shot 59 percent from the field in the first half and held the Bluejays to 1 for 13 shooting from 3-point range.
Oklahoma led 49-33 early in the second half when Jamuni McNeace was called for a flagrant foul. The Bluejays took advantage and grabbed momentum to close to 49-38 on a dunk by Krampelj.
Another dunk by Krampelj cut Creighton’s deficit to 61-54, but Oklahoma held on, thanks in part to a dunk by James in the final minute.
The Sooners left an impression on McDermott.
“We’ve played four teams we think are Top 25-level teams,” he said. “This team is certainly one of them.”