Reynolds, Oklahoma stifle USC in 81-70 win
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Miles Reynolds scored a season-high 20 points, Christian James added 16 points and 15 rebounds and Oklahoma maintained its stifling defense in an 81-70 victory over Southern California on Saturday night.
Oklahoma (9-1) held the Trojans to 34.8 percent shooting (23 of 66) and forced 18 turnovers.
Reynolds, a graduate transfer from Pacific, has scored 14 or more in four of the last five games after not exceeding 12 in the first five.
“Miles has a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “Sometimes I question where he’s going but he’s getting there fast. Every minute he’s out there he plays extremely hard.”
“I just credit my teammates finding me and getting me some good looks,” said Reynolds, who made 7 of 10 field goals. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but all my looks have been good looks at the goal. I forced a couple tonight in the first half. I’m just taking what the defense is giving me.”
Nick Rakocevic led the Trojans (5-5) with 17 points and 15 rebounds. USC trailed 40-28 at halftime, but closed to within 51-47 on a rebound basket by Rakocevic with 13:49 to play. The Sooners responded with a 12-1 run capped by a 3-pointer by James and were never pressured again.
“Oklahoma is a very good team, but we beat ourselves in this one,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “We missed too many easy shots, particularly in the post. The biggest play of the game was after we cut it to 51-47 in the second half, we had a wide open 3 to pull within one, we miss it and they go down and hit a layup. You have to make critical shots to beat a team like Oklahoma.”
Brady Manek added 15 points and five rebounds for the Sooners.
The Sooners jumped out to a 10-2 lead, fell behind 14-12, then went on an 11-0 run to take control. Reynolds made a 3-pointer, followed by a steal and layup to push the advantage to 37-22 before the Sooners settled for a 40-28 lead at the half.
USC’s Bennie Boatwright made his first basket with 8:38 remaining and finished with nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, well below his 15.0 average. The Trojans played their fourth game without Kevin Porter Jr. (11.7 ppg), out with a thigh contusion.
Oklahoma has thrived on defense all year, but particularly of late, holding Wichita State to 24 percent shooting in an 80-48 victory Dec. 8. The Sooners are allowing just 36.3 percent shooting for the season, seventh best in the nation. The Sooners welcomed back center Jamuni McNeace, who had missed two games with an ankle sprain. He had six points and two rebounds in 21 minutes.
Four of USC’s losses have come against 11-0 Nevada, 10-0 Texas Tech, 9-1 Oklahoma and 7-1 TCU for a combined record of 37-2.
I’m really proud of how hard we played and the way we stuck together,” Enfield said. “We have to eliminate mistakes and our point guards have to stop making so many turnovers. When you look at the records of the three Big 12 teams we’ve lost to and Nevada, those teams are 37-2, so it’s not been easy. We just need to keep improving.
It was Oklahoma’s third consecutive game on a neutral site, although the Wichita State game was in Oklahoma City and this one was before 7,170 Sooner fans in Tulsa.
USC travels to Santa Clara Tuesday and plays host to Southern Utah Friday.
After playing games in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma returns to Norman to host Creighton Tuesday and travels to Northwestern Friday for its second Big Ten opponent, having lost to Wisconsin 78-58 on Nov. 22.