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OU men's basketball: 3 takeaways from Oklahoma's win over William & Mary

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The Sooners celebrate during the game against William & Mary Tribe Nov. 18.

The Sooners survived a scare at home against William & Mary, winning by a score of 75-70 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

The Sooners didn’t take their first lead until 13:08 was left in the game. For the fourth game in a row, the Sooners have relied on a strong second half performance to avoid defeat.

Here’s three takeaways from the Sooners' win over William & Mary.

Another slow start

The Sooners finished the first half shooting 39 percent from the field and 0-9 from behind the 3-point line. Including Tuesday night’s game, the Sooners have shot 6-39 (15 percent) from deep. In the second half they’ve made 19-of-40 attempts (47 percent).

The Sooners finished the game only leading for two minutes and thirteen seconds of game time.

After the poor start shooting the ball, the Sooners made 3-of-9 attempts in the second half with two coming from junior forward Brady Manek and another coming from redshirt junior guard Austin Reaves.

“Austin, I thought was great,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. “Obviously he made some big buckets in critical times when we were trying to stay in reach.”

Reaves finished with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting and was 1-of-4 from behind the arc. The Wichita State transfer added nine rebounds and five assists.

Knight gives the Sooners all they can handle

The Sooners finished the first half with just two second-chance points but were able to turn five second-half offensive rebounds into six points. The Tribe were held without any second-chance points in the second half.

William & Mary’s Nathan Knight was about as good as advertised on Monday, leading all players with 30 points on an efficient 13-of-18 night from the floor. He matched Doolittle’s eight rebounds with eight of his own.

The 6-foot-10 forward was able to score points via a multitude of fashions, as he drilled a pair of three pointers, knocked down a few mid-range jumpers and could often beat his opponent —whether it be Manek or Doolittle— for quick buckets in the paint. Sometimes he careened toward the hoop with a quick spin move, other times he bodied up defenders and used his size and strength to get to the rim. Knight enters the season fresh off a year in which he averaged 21 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and was one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award this past spring, which is awarded to the nation’s top center.

Following the 2018-19 season, Knight worked out for a handful of NBA teams in preparation for the 2019 draft before ultimately withdrawing his name so he could return for his senior season.

“He’s a really good player,” Doolittle said. “He had it going, got in a rhythm early and was able to sustain that throughout the whole game, making some tough buckets every once in a while. We just didn’t key on him as much as we needed to. He was able to take advantage of our breakdowns on defense.”

Doolittle continues to do a lot

As the lone senior on the team and a pre-season All-Big 12 honorable mention, the Sooners have been looking to the 6-foot-7 forward as a leader.

Against William and Mary, Doolittle led the team in points with 19 on 7-of-21 shooting and eight rebounds.  The Edmond-native came into the game averaging 14.5 points and 13 rebounds per game but was given a tough challenge facing against the Tribe’s senior center Nathan Knight who came into the game averaging 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

“It challenges you for sure,” Kruger said, “Any time a big can step out on the floor and make threes it changes kind of the typical way of playing on the defensive end.”

Doolittle has continued to show he’s a threat to score both in the paint and from the outside. His ability to get to the free-throw line became key down the stretch.

“It just depends on who’s getting the call in that moment, at that point in time it was going through me,” Doolittle said. “But I was able to produce for my teammates and able to extend the lead and they had no choice but to foul and give us the bigger cushion.”

The Sooners were 16-of-20 from the free-throw line and Doolittle was a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Kruger’s squad entered the game leading the Big 12 in free throw shooting percentage at 79.7 percent.

The Sooners' next game will be against Maryland Eastern Shore on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT in the Lloyd Noble Center.

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