NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Buddy Hield scored. Just like he usually does.
His defensive energy was just as critical – the senior had a career-high five steals to go with 30 points as No. 7 Oklahoma beat Oral Roberts 96-73 on Saturday.
“Buddy, especially in the second half, was active throughout, for sure,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “That’s great. Any time we can create that activity defensively – and steals often times convert to transition points – that’s great to see.”
Hield, a preseason All-America who had been in a bit of a shooting slump, was 9 of 15 from the field to fall one point short of his career high.
Jordan Woodard scored 19 points, Isaiah Cousins had 15 and Ryan Spangler added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners (7-0), who won by at least 17 points for the sixth straight game. Oklahoma shot 62 percent in the second half to beat Oral Roberts for the 15th consecutive time.
Oklahoma, which entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage defense, held the Golden Eagles to 35 percent shooting in the second half.
“That’s our go-to,” Spangler said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on, and that’s what we’re going to keep working on. I think if we play defense and make people take tough shots, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
The Sooners were strong again after rolling past No. 9 Villanova 78-55 on Monday at Pearl Harbor. Kruger expected his team to be focused, even after such a big-time game.
“We had three good days of practice,” he said. “We got back Tuesday and didn’t practice, then went Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. With the leadership of this group, that shouldn’t be a concern. These guys know what human nature’s about and how you’ve got to bounce back and play the next game and get better every day.”
Obi Emegano scored 29 points, Kris Martin had a season-high 15 points and Brandon Conley added 10 points and 11 rebounds for Oral Roberts (8-3).
The Golden Eagles tied the score at 32 on a jumper by Emegano. The Sooners responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Cousins. Oral Roberts closed the gap again, but Hield’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in the first half gave the Sooners a 43-38 lead.
Oral Roberts shot 53 percent in the first half, but committed eight turnovers. Martin scored 12 points in the first half, while Emegano had 11 despite picking up two early fouls.
The Sooners opened things up early in the second half. A 3 by Woodard, then a putback by Hield pushed Oklahoma’s lead to 63-48.
Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said he thought his team played well against a Top Ten team.
“I didn’t want to get embarrassed, and I don’t think we did,” he said.
ON THE RISE
Woodard had never made more than three 3-pointers in a game heading into this season. He made six against Central Arkansas on Dec. 3 and four against Oral Roberts.
Woodard, on his switch from point guard to shooting guard: “I like whatever Coach has got me on the floor to do.”
Oklahoma backup center Akolda Manyang had four blocks. The 7-foot center has 14 blocks in 67 minutes this season.
Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles beat intra-city rival Tulsa 70-68 last Saturday for the Mayor’s Cup. … They entered the day with just three wins all-time against Top Ten teams.
Oklahoma: Assistant coach Chris Crutchfield was an assistant at Oral Roberts from 2007 to 2011. … The Sooners had eight offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance points in the first half. … The Sooners, who led the nation in rebounds heading into Saturday, outrebounded Oral Roberts 36-35.
Oral Roberts visits Missouri State on Wednesday.
Oklahoma hosts Creighton on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP.