HOUSTON — Blake Griffin knew he'd absorbed an elbow to the face but didn't know he was leaking blood until he was directed out of the game and to the bench.
The Rice Owls had pushed and grabbed and slapped the Oklahoma big man, continuing a trend of rough play against Griffin, yet drawing little response on a night when the No. 4-ranked Sooners seemed to be sleepwalking on the floor.
But drawing blood, that got Griffin's – and the Sooners' – attention.
“Once it starts getting a little dirty,” Griffin said, “I take it a little more personally.”
Patched up by trainer Alex Brown on the bench, Griffin returned with a vengeance, combining with Willie Warren to carry the Sooners to a 70-58 men’s basketball win before 3,345 at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Before Griffin took the shot to his right cheekbone, OU was stuck in an unexpected tussle with a Rice team that entered the game 4-6.
The Sooners committed 11 first-half turnovers and led just 29-28 at the break. It was still a sloppy game when Griffin was forced to the sideline, needing Brown to stop the bleeding.
And it was tied, 44-44, when he returned with 8:11 remaining.
Not for long.
Griffin and Warren combined to score 21 of OU's final 26 points, with Griffin powering inside, either scoring or getting to the foul line, and Warren slashing through the lane for driving layups and pull-up jumpers.
Warren finished with a career-high 31 points, striking for 14 in the final 7 1/2 minutes. Griffin, held to five shots and 10 points in the opening half, ended with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor.