WASHINGTON — Led by Cameron Clark and propelled by an overwhelming rebounding advantage, Oklahoma rolled to an 81-66 victory over George Mason in the BB&T Classic on Sunday.
Playing a half-hour from its Fairfax, Va. campus, George Mason figured to have a home-court advantage in the BB&T Classic. But on a dreary, cold, snowy, day in Washington, the game was played in front of a sparse, listless crowd.
The atmosphere did little, however, to dim the spirits of the Sooners in their first appearance in the event.
Clark scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping Oklahoma to a 51-29 rebounding edge. Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler scored 13 points and had a game-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Buddy Hield added 12 points and 10 boards.
In winning its fourth straight game, Oklahoma (8-1) made only 1 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc and committed 19 turnovers. But the Sooners compensated with 58.3 percent marksmanship from the field and huge advantages on points in the paint, 50-20, and on fast-break points, 12-0.
“One of our goals going into every game is to out-rebound the every team,” Spangler said. “If you do, you get easy points.”
It was another positive step for Oklahoma, which lost 68 percent of its scoring from last year's NCAA tournament team, but appears rebuilt in coach Lon Kruger's third season. Last year, Kruger did it largely with players he inherited. This year's team is made up mostly of players he brought to Norman.
Oklahoma led all the way, getting little resistance from George Mason (5-4), which was led by Bryon Allen, who had 15 points, but needed 17 shots to get there.
Guarded tightly by the 6-foot-7 Clark, George Mason guard Sherrod Wright hit only 2 of 9 shots, scoring seven points, 10 below his team-leading average. The Patriots shot just 30.2 percent.
“I thought our activity was pretty good defensively and pretty sound,” Kruger said.
Oklahoma was sharp from the start, scoring on its first four possessions - two mid-range jumpers by Clark and two layups by Spangler -- to take a lead that it never relinquished. Later in the first half, Oklahoma went on a 13-4 run with six of the points coming from sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins as the Sooners grabbed their biggest lead of the first half, 32-18.