Sooners return to action, hoping to exercise Demons

Norman, OK ( – The 18th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will try to
ease some of the pain from their first loss of the season when they play host
to the Demons of Northwestern State on Sunday afternoon.

Northwestern State comes into the contest on the plus side of the ledger, as
it has won two of its first three games. The team dropped a 109-68 decision at
Texas A&M in the season opener, but has since bounced back to notch double-
digit wins over a pair of smaller programs in Lyon College (75-63) and LSU-
Alexandria (89-79).

Oklahoma began the season with a 78-53 triumph over visiting Southeastern
Louisiana, but then hit the road to battle Creighton in a game that wound up
going to the Bluejays in a 65-63 final. It’s imperative the Sooners get back
on track here, as they will tangle with some formidable foes in the coming
weeks, including UCLA next Wednesday in the Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis), and
then perhaps North Carolina on Thanksgiving Day, should the Tar Heels advance.

Oklahoma has won all four previous meetings between the two teams, although
the last was a close call as it prevailed, 69-65, on Nov. 30, 2011.

Despite some lackluster shooting (.408 overall, .220 3-point), Northwestern
State has done well enough at the offensive end this season, as the team
averages 77.3 ppg. Unfortunately, the team’s defensive effort has been
severely lacking as foes generate 84 ppg in hitting 47.4 percent of their
total shots, which includes a 36.2 percent showing from beyond the arc. The
Demons are also -5.3 in rebounding margin, but they are on the plus side of
the turnover battle (+3) despite coughing the ball up an average of 16.3 times

Zeek Woodley, who leads the team on the season with 19.0 ppg, shot 11-of-19
from the field to finish with 27 points, and Jalen West (16.7 ppg, 7.3 apg)
feasted at the foul line in going 13-of-14 to tally 22, as Northwestern State
outlasted LSU-Alexandria a few nights back. The Demons made good on 46.3
percent of their field goal attempts, while logging a 19-7 edge in points from
the charity stripe, and goading the opposition into a whopping 24 turnovers.

Buddy Hield has clearly been Oklahoma’s best player here in the early going,
as he is averaging 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Ryan
Spangler comes in averaging a double-double with 11.0 points and 11.0 caroms
per contest, while Isaiah Cousins rounds out the unit’s double-digit scorers
with 10.0 ppg to go with a solid rebounding figure of 7.5 rpg. As a team, the
Sooners are scoring 70.5 ppg, but shooting just 37.2 percent from the field.
They are actually converting their 3-pointers at a better rate (.378).

Hield hit for 21 points in the narrow loss to Creighton, but his 7-of-18
shooting effort helped drag down the team’s overall percentage to just .355.
Oklahoma did manage to knock down eight 3-pointers and go 11-of-14 at the foul
line, but the Bluejays were equally as effective from downtown, while scoring
just a few more at the stripe (15-of-21). TaShawn Thomas scored 14 points,
while Spangler finished with 11 points and 11 boards for the Sooners.