Romero Osby brought his basketball skills and his experience to Orlando, Fla., for Oklahoma's opener in the Old Spice Classic.
Within the first minute and a half of Thursday's game against UTEP, the senior forward had an offensive rebound, a jumper, a steal and a dunk.
All of that came in the same amount of time it took the rest of the Sooners to produce two missed jumpers.
Osby was the ignition fluid to Oklahoma's getaway. The senior's play resulted in his ninth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as OU won 68-61.
“It was a great start,” OU coach Lon Kruger said of the Sooners' 15-0 opening run. “You'd like to start all ballgames like that, not only on the scoreboard, but the energy was good and the activity was very good. ... We needed every bit of it as UTEP kept battling.”
OU will play Gonzaga on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
By the time the Sooners and Miners had played eight minutes, seven different Oklahoma players had a bucket, while UTEP had only scored two baskets.
However the game ebbed and flowed from large leads to small margins. Oklahoma was up 29-12 in the first half after Osby put up a finesse layup. The Sooners spent the next two minutes watching the Miners make bucket after bucket, including one from beyond the arc, to bring them within five.
That's when Osby's skills and experience reignited. He hit back-to-back shots to give Oklahoma a 33-24 lead. Then four minutes later, after junior Amath M'Baye had made two free throws and freshman Buddy Hield drained a 3-pointer, Osby came up with a large shot block to keep the Miners from starting a run before halftime.
Osby opened up the second half by drawing a foul then making a basket a few minutes later. With 14:36 remaining in the game, Isaiah Cousins put up a 3 that bounced off the rim. Osby grabbed the rebound and kicked it back out to Cousins, who this time drained the 3 to give Oklahoma a 20-point lead.
Although they never lost their lead, the Sooners saw their advantage fall to within the single digits with just under four minutes remaining in the game after a UTEP 3-pointer. Back-to-back Oklahoma fouls, with a blocked shot in between by Osby, brought UTEP within four with a 1:40 left in the game.
With a minute remaining on the clock, senior Steven Pledger got the ball in the right corner of the court — a spot where he spent a majority of his night — and drained a 3.
“We gave them a chance to get back in there late and we went a long stretch there in the second half not getting in a shot, just a couple free throws,” Kruger said. “It was a good win for our guys and a good way to start a tournament.”