HONOLULU (AP) — The 50th state is becoming familiar territory for the third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Just 15 days after defeating then-No. 9 Villanova on Oahu, Oklahoma returned to the islands this week to make its first appearance in the Diamond Head Classic.
The Sooners made it a triumphant return trip Tuesday night, cruising to an 88-60 win over Washington State in a quarterfinal-round game of the eight-team tournament Tuesday night.
Buddy Hield led the way for Oklahoma with 25 points. He made 8 of 13 shots from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and was a perfect 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in just 26 minutes played.
Hield had 15 points by halftime.
“We’ve got to adjust as basketball players,” Hield said when asked of the travel demands. “We’ve got to adjust because this is the life we choose and part of it is traveling on the road so we’re used to this and we’ve just got to be ready for whatever the task at hand is and come out and play.”
Isaiah Cousins had 13 points, Dante Buford added 11 and Jordan Woodard 10 for the Sooners (9-0), who led by as many as 30 points late in the contest.
Oklahoma shot 56.7 percent (17 of 30) from the field in the second half and 50 percent (31 of 62) for the game. It was 10 of 23 on 3-pointers and outrebounded the Cougars (7-3), 42 to 32.
Ike Iroegbu and Josh Hawkinson scored 16 points apiece for Washington State. Iroegbu had 14 points and Hawkinson eight rebounds by the intermission.
Oklahoma held a 38-31 lead at halftime.
The Sooners put the game out of reach early in the second half. Woodward made a 3-pointers from the left wing at the 15:10 mark to ignite a 17-0 run that stretched his team’s lead to 67-41.
“Defensively, we created some activity and had some deflections that we turned into transition opportunities and I thought we had some pretty good looks defensively in the first half, but we didn’t come up with the loose balls and didn’t guard through late in the shot clock,” Oklahoma fifth-year coach Lon Kruger said. “In the second half we played much better defensively and moved the ball offensively.”
Buford was the lone Sooner to score in double figures off the bench. He shot 4 of 7 from the field and grabbed five rebounds in 16 minutes. Ryan Spangler grabbed seven of his eight rebounds in the first half.
Woodward recorded six assists and Cousins five.
Washington State was 24 of 69 (34.8 percent) from the field, including 5 of 21 on 3-pointers. It led for just nine seconds of game time and did not make a shot from the field in the final 3:09.
It was just the second meeting between the schools. Oklahoma beat Washington State, 74-59, on Nov. 23, 2011 in Anaheim, Calif.
After handing Villanova a 78-55 defeat —its first of the season — back on Dec. 7, Oklahoma played a pair of home games before heading back west.
Oklahoma: Hield eclipsed the 30-point mark in his previous two games, including a career-high 33 points in an 87-74 win over Creighton Saturday.
Washington State: The Cougars, who were coming off a 78-73 overtime win against Texas State Friday, saw their two-game win streak snapped.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Oklahoma emptied its bench for much of the latter portion of the second half. All 15 players suited up got in the game. Hield exited the game with about 11 minutes left on the clock and did not return, despite lobbying hard with his coach.
“Buddy is always lobbying to get in, which is good,” Kruger laughed. “He loves to play and he knows that it’s good to get those other guys in there and conserve his legs, too.”
Oklahoma will play the winner of Northern Iowa-Hawaii in a semifinal Wednesday.
Washington State faces the Northern Iowa-Hawaii loser in a consolation game Wednesday.
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