Oklahoma City — Oklahoma was able to overcome a late-game comeback by Mississippi State with a 63-62 win on Saturday behind a career day from junior guard Alondes Williams.
The Sooners entered the half leading 38-30 and were shooting 46 percent from the field with just four turnovers. On top of that, sophomore forward Reggie Perry, the Bulldogs' top scorer and rebounder, was on the bench with three fouls after picking up a technical foul with 12:47 remaining in the first half.
Oklahoma seemed to be in a good position to win its fourth Big 12/SEC Challenge over the past six seasons. In the second half, Mississippi State limited the Sooners to 34 percent shooting from the floor and slowly began to make their way back into the game.
“They’re very good defensively,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought we had the upper hand in terms of getting downhill in the first half. I didn’t think we had that same advantage in the second.”
The Sooners were held scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half which allowed the Bulldogs to climb back into the game and eventually tie the game at 38. That was when Kruger chose to substitute freshman guard De’vion Harmon — who finished with eight points on 3-7 shooting and three assists — out for Williams.
Williams scored a 3-pointer to give Oklahoma back the lead and then on the ensuing possession stole a pass before finishing with a one-handed tomahawk on the other end.
“That was a game changer for us,” junior forward Brady Manek said.
Manek said the dunk helped bring life back to the team after their rough start to the half. Both teams went back and forth in the second half but the Sooners had either the lead or were tied for all but a single possession of the game.
Meanwhile, Williams continued to give the Sooners a boost with his shooting. The JUCO transfer scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Williams finished with a career-high 13 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor and 3-4 from deep. He also added two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
“It was really the energy from my team and my coaches that got me going,” Williams said.
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland wasn’t surprised at all to see Williams having a big impact on the offensive end. Howland said Williams' potential has been evident even during his time at Triton College before transferring to Oklahoma.
“He shot 37 percent one year and 40 (percent) the next year in junior college. He’s a good 3-point shooter,” Howland said. “He took a bunch of them before he got here, and he’s going right — and we got beat that way a couple times, he had a couple good looks.”
Williams' previous career highs came earlier this season when he scored 12 points in back-to-back games against Stanford and Missouri. Williams has started seven games for the Sooners this year, including six of the Sooners' last nine games.
The Sooners will take on Kansas State at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday in Manhattan.