Inside-out approach works for OU men's basketball team

Relying less on 3-pointers, Sooners rally in second half to win exhibition game.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: November 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm •  Published: November 2, 2010

— The new-look Oklahoma men's basketball team doesn't have a lot of size. But coach Jeff Capel reminded players at halftime of the Sooners' exhibition game that to reach their potential, they can't rely on perimeter shots.

After being outscored in the paint in the first half by undersized Division II Northern State, the Sooners attacked the basket in the second half to rally to a 75-64 win Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

"We were so out of character from how we've been in practice," Capel said. "We've been very unselfish in practice. The ball was moving, being reversed. In the first half we took so many 3's, some off one pass or no pass. That's not the way we want to play.

"Certainly we're a team that's going to have to make perimeter shots. But when we got penetration, kicked it out and the ball got reversed, those are the 3's we made. ... We will make shots. I'm not worried about that. We're a good shooting team. But we have to be able to drive the ball, too."

A good example was sophomore guard Steven Pledger. Last season, Pledger's game was 3-pointers. Tuesday, Pledger scored a game-high 23 points and made only one 3-pointer.

"I've been working on that all spring, summer and fall," Pledger said. "When I'm at home, I work out with my father. We did a lot of going-to-the-rack moves, one dribble, two dribbles, get to the basket or pull up for jumpers."

In the first half, the Sooners were outscored 11-9 in the paint and shot 33.3 percent. Half their shots were 3-pointers.