NORMAN — Senior Cade Davis knows what's in front of the Oklahoma men's basketball team. The Sooners have gained some momentum the past month. But now the challenge gets bigger.
Davis posted his first double-double this season to help the Sooners remain undefeated at home with a 73-49 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
But pulling away from a team with similar size from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is a vastly different challenge than No. 16 Texas A&M, which is one of the nation's top rebounding teams. The Aggies visits Norman on Saturday afternoon in a Big 12 opener.
“Not to discredit any of the teams we've played, but the post players from Maryland Eastern Shore and Central Arkansas versus the post players we'll see in Big 12 play, they're a lot bigger and a lot more physical,” Davis said of conference foes. “We know we have to step up our game even more.”
With OU coach Jeff Capel going with a four-guard lineup, everyone must chip in on the boards for the Sooners to be competitive in conference play. Playing more in the paint defensively the past three weeks, Davis grabbed a career high 12 rebounds against Eastern Shore.
“I had to change from being a post player to a guard when I came to college. Now I'm converting back,” Davis said. “But that's all right... Whatever they need me to do.”
The Sooners outrebounded Maryland Eastern Shore, but the Hawks grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, one factor why it attempted 18 more field goals.
OU led by 15 points in the first half but Maryland Eastern Shore battled back to tie it 39-39 midway through the second half. The Sooners responded with an 18-2 run to rebuild the lead to 57-41.
“I'm not pleased with how we played, but I'm glad to get a win,” Capel said. “We did some good things in spurts.”
The Sooners (8-6) have won five of their last six, but they had problems pulling away from the Hawks (3-10).
“After playing those five straight games away from home (all losses), I'm pleased with some of the things we've done,” Capel said. “But we have a lot of work to do to get ready for a good A&M team, really every team in the league. We look forward to the challenge.”
Four OU players scored in double figures. Steven Pledger scored a game-high 19 points. Cameron Clark scored 14, highlighted by four dunks. Andrew Fitzgerald and Davis had 11 each.
The Sooners shot 58.1 percent, the second straight game they've shot well but committed 17 turnovers, 13 in the first half.
“We have gotten better as a team,” Davis said. “Individually, everyone has more confidence. We've done some good things leading up to Big 12 play.”
OU is 8-0 at home, a streak that will be challenged by A&M.
“We have to protect our home, play with urgency,” Capel said.