NORMAN, Okla. — It took eight minutes and one player to decide Saturday’s game between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma forward Brady Manek started the game by draining a baseline jumper. From there, the junior poured in 17 points — including five 3-pointers — in the first eight minutes of the game, fueling OU’s eventual 82-69 victory over their Bedlam rivals, Oklahoma State.
The Sooners (14-7, 4-4 in Big 12) needed only to build on that lead, which they did with a 43-30 edge at halftime. After that, it was all about maintenance, as the Cowboys (10-11, 0-8) walked away from their eighth straight Big 12 game without a win and searching for answers.
The importance of Manek’s streak — and his 22-point first-half — can be explained like this. The Cowboys and Sooners played to a 39-39 tie in the second half, so the halftime lead for the Sooners was of the utmost importance.
The Sooners were thrilled with the offensive output, one of their best of the season.
“I feel like, for 40 minutes, that was one of our better performances on both ends of the floor,” Sooners head coach Lon Kruger said.
Manek’s outburst was an example of the kind of offense OU’s leading scorer can provide when he gets off to a hot start. After the jumper, Manek hit from the baseline again, this time from behind the arc. After that the junior poured it on, connecting on another 3-pointer and another until he had collected five of them by the 12:11 mark of the first half. At that time, it was still a game, with the Cowboys only down six. But the Sooners quickly made it a double-digit lead.
What stuck out to Cowboys head coach Mike Boynton Jr. is the fact that Manek’s first three jumpers were uncontested. The defensive breakdowns were killers early for OSU, as Boynton said that he felt the team didn’t play with enough energy at key times to win the game.
“That doesn’t sound like a schematic thing,” Boynton said. “We know what to do. Can we be competitive enough to make sure it happens in the moment? That’s the disconnect for us right now.”
Manek tied his season high with seven 3-pointers and he was 11-of-18 from the floor. His 30 points was one point shy of his season high against TCU earlier this season. It also came one game after he scored just five points in a loss to Kansas State. Manek didn’t want a part of that sort of game again, and he said that was motivating.
Once Manek finally cooled off — thanks in part to the Cowboys putting guard Isaac Likekele on Manek more often — other Sooners pitched in. Austin Reaves had 21 points, Alondes Williams had 12 points and while Kristian Doolittle only had six points, he did have 10 rebounds as well.
By the end of the first half Manek’s hot shot had an unintended impact — opening up the floor for players like Reaves and Williams, both of which had at least two dunks in the game.
“When you get that hot it opens up the floor for driving the lane,” Oklahoma State guard Thomas Dziagwa said after the game. “When (Manek) got open he made shots and we have to do a better job of locating him defensively.”
Oklahoma State’s Cameron McGriff and Dziagwa each had 15 points to lead the Cowboys, while Likekele scored 10 points, but all of that came in the first half as the Cowboys were trying to keep the game from getting away from them. Lindy Waters III left the game late in the second half after taking a hit to the face while Reaves was driving to the basket. At one point Waters had gauze up his nose to stop bleeding. Waters only scored five points and Boynton said he didn’t want to get ahead of himself on Waters’ status for next week. He did say he had not heard the words “concussion protocol” from trainers when it came to Waters.
The Sooners are preparing for Texas Tech while the Cowboys will host TCU.
**We now have FREE Big 12 Forums here at Heartland College Sports. Go sign up here and join our conversation! **