NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma always seems to find an unlikely hero for Bedlam home games.
So it was again Monday night, when reserve forward Tyler Neal pumped in a season-high 15 points, helping fuel the Sooners’ 88-76 win over rival Oklahoma State before a soldout crowd at Lloyd Noble Center.
Forward Ryan Spangler dominated inside for the No. 23-ranked Sooners, scoring 15 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, while freshman guard Jordan Woodard added 18 points to help OU improve to 17-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12.
The No. 8 Cowboys lost for the third time on the road in the conference, falling to 16-4 and 4-3.
Neal, a senior whose role has fluctuated during his career, scored 10 points in the first half as the Sooners were building a lead they would never relinquish. He finished 5-for-6 from the from the floor — including 3-of-3 from 3-point range — in surpassing his previous season high of 13 points set in the Big 12 opener against Texas.
OSU star guard Marcus Smart led the Cowboys with 22 points, after missing much of the first half in foul trouble. Guard Phil Forte added 20 points off the bench, firing in six 3-pointers, and Markel Brown added 18 points.
Smart fueled an OSU spurt midway through the second half, scoring seven points in a 14-4 run that pulled the Cowboys within seven at 64-57 with 10:01 remaining.
But Neal muscled inside for a bucket, to restore some order, and pretty soon the Sooners were pulling away again.
Smart started strong, scoring OSU’s first six points on a pair of 3-pointers. And the Cowboys led 10-7 early. But those six points are what Smart ended the half with, as foul trouble limited him to six minutes.
With Smart out, as well as Le’Bryan Nash with two fouls, the Sooners took advantage of a makeshift Cowboys lineup to go on an 11-0 run into the lead, 20-10. Neal fired in two 3-pointers and had a team-high 10 points in 10 minutes. Spangler had nine points, before also sitting with two fouls. And guard Buddy Hield added eight points for the Sooners, who led 46-38 at the half.
OSU shot 39.4 percent (13 of 33) in the first half, but guards Brown and Forte kept it competitive with 11 points each. Forte fired in three 3-pointers.
NOTES: Everything OU-OSU is referred to as “Bedlam.” The basketball series has seen its share of games fitting of the term, although Monday night’s clash was the first pairing of Top 25 teams since 2005. … The Sooners extended a streak of 10 straight Bedlam home wins with Monday night’s conquest, and have now won 12 of the last 13 in the series… Monday marked the 13th anniversary of a plane crash that killed 10 members associated with the OSU men’s basketball team who were returning from a game at Colorado. OU offered a moment of silence for those 10 before tipoff.
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