NORMAN — Jeff Capel was worried. In the first half Tuesday night, his Oklahoma team validated his worries. Trailing for most of the first 20 minutes, Oklahoma retook the lead against Louisiana-Monroe with 1:39 left in the opening half, when freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin threaded a bounce pass to sophomore Willie Warren for a reverse layup.
The Sooners shook off their sluggish first half, took the lead for good on a pair of Ryan Wright free throws with 13:52 to play and beat Louisiana-Monroe 72-61 in the Lloyd Noble Center in front of a crowd of 6,152. "It’s a great lesson for our guys, because we played early in that game like we practiced yesterday,” Capel said. "I was nervous. Looking around college basketball, starting last night with this marathon, you’ve seen a lot of upsets, you’ve seen a lot of close games.” Warren said Monday’s practice was turnover-filled and sloppy. The first half was no different, and Capel felt fortunate to escape with what he called an "ugly” win. The Sooners shot just 17 percent from 3-point range in the first half, turning the ball over nine times. But 36 percent from the field in the first half turned into 59 percent in the second half, led by Warren, who scored 24 points. "The game was a little bit too close, and even though we pulled it out toward the end, I feel like we gave up too many points to that team,” Warren said.