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Hield’s perfect shooting carries Sooners

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NORMAN, Okla. — Buddy Hield flexed and broke out in one of his wide smiles after a steal and a dunk late in No. 18 Oklahoma’s 82-65 win over No. 24 Oklahoma State on Saturday night.

The junior guard was the strength of the Sooners, turning in a perfect night from the field to lead Oklahoma to its 11th consecutive home win over the archrival Cowboys in front of 10,014 at Lloyd Noble Center.

The dunk, which came just a second after he picked the pocket of Oklahoma State junior guard Phil Forte, capped one of the best nights of Hield’s career.

Hield finished 10 of 10 from the field, hitting four 3-pointers, and led the Sooners with 27 points.

It was a performance that Oklahoma (12-5, 3-2 Big 12) desperately needed after dropping back-to-back games to Kansas State and West Virginia the previous week.

“My teammates found me in good spots,” Hield said. “In transition, I got open and they found me when I was open. Ryan (Spangler) got me open. Jordan (Woodard) got it to me. They were just finding me in good spots and I made some shots.”

The Sooners led for all but a few moments in the first half but really took over with about six minutes to go before the break.

Hield scored eight consecutive points on three quick possessions, starting with a long outlet from Woodard over a Cowboys defender for an easy layup.

On Oklahoma’s next two possessions, Hield knocked down 3-pointers.

“One of the best players in America and he showed it,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said of Hield. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

“I would like to say that we didn’t do a good job, but he earned them.”

Oklahoma senior forward TaShawn Thomas laughed after the game when he saw Hield’s line.

He leaned over to Spangler, sitting next to him.

“Hey, did you see this?” Thomas asked, pointing to the stat sheet.

“He does that all the time and we expect that from him and how much work he puts in so every game he can go 10 for 10 if he can,” Spangler said.

The game featured the top three scorers in the Big 12 and while Hield, who entered the game third, the top two from Oklahoma State struggled.

Senior forward Le’Bryan Nash was one of two Cowboys (12-5, 2-3) to finish with 15 points but was just 6 of 15 from the floor. Junior guard Phil Forte was 3 of 11 for 11 points and finished without a 3-pointer for the first time in 22 games.

Oklahoma’s perimeter defense, which utilizes near-constant switching, kept Forte from getting many strong looks.

“Oklahoma State runs good stuff for him and it’s tough to guard him,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought it was a good team effort. They guys individually on him did a good job and the guys in help positions did a good job.”

Sophomore forward Leyton Hammonds came off the bench to also score 15 for the Cowboys. All of Hammonds’ points came in the final 11-plus minutes on five 3-pointers.

The Cowboys missed their first 15 3-pointers before Hammonds broke through.

But by that time, barring a complete collapse by the Sooners, the game was already well in hand.

Woodard, who had struggled controlling the point in the two losses, turned in one of his better games of the season, with 13 points and four assists.

Spangler added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Thomas scored 10, all in the second half.

While Ford might have been hesitant to criticize his team’s defensive effort against Hield, he made it clear that he wasn’t pleased with his team’s sluggish play — especially early.

Asked about his team’s effort after the game, Ford took a long pause and several deep breaths before responding.

“I’ve addressed it with my team,” Ford said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

The Cowboys have now dropped consecutive games for the first time this season.

Oklahoma shot 56 percent from the floor (29 of 52), topping 50 percent for the fifth time this season and first in conference play.

The Sooners were 60.9 percent from the

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