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Sooners Start European Trip With Win In Belgium

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GHENT, Belgium -

Two newcomers and fourth-year player keyed Oklahoma's 101-81 men's basketball exhibition win over Division II semi-pro team the Ghent Hawks in Ghent, Belgium, Thursday night. Contested at Tolhuis Arena, the game was the first of five the Sooners are playing on their European tour.

Senior Cameron Clark scored 20 points -- 15 in the second half -- on 9-for-13 shooting while freshman point guard Jordan Woodard (20) and sophomore forward Ryan Spangler (14), a transfer from Gonzaga, combined for 34 points in the 20-point win. The trio combined to shoot 64.7 percent from the floor (22-for-34), while Spangler added a game-high 11 rebounds and Woodard a game-high eight assists against two turnovers. OU shot 51.3 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers on the night.

OU's 101 points were more than head coach Lon Kruger's teams scored in any game his first two seasons. Per FIBA rules, the teams played with a 24-second shot clock Thursday night.

"It was really good for us," said Kruger of the game. "We need a lot of reps. We have got a lot of young guys playing, a lot of guys who didn't play last year and sat out. I thought everyone benefitted from the ball game. We were much better in the second half than the first, which is what you like to see."

Kruger said he was pleased by the play of OU's many newcomers.

"I thought a lot of our new guys did a really nice job. Jordan did a good job pushing the ball out of the backcourt, finding open people. Ryan was very active like we expect him to be. He was on the boards, knocked down a couple 3's. I thought D.J. Bennett did a lot of good things. We also did a lot of things that indicate we haven't played for a while. But that's why you do this and we'll benefit from it."

The Sooners fell behind early as a result of torrid Ghent 3-point shooting. The Hawks scored on each of their first five possessions and hit four treys on those five trips to open a 14-7 lead. A 12-0 Sooners run put OU up 38-31, but Kruger's crew had to settle for a 45-44 halftime edge.

Clark helped spur a third-quarter surge that put OU up 74-66 heading into the final period. The guard/forward from Sherman, Texas, netted 13 points in the quarter. OU actually trailed 64-62 with 2:30 left in the stanza before closing on a 12-2 run.

The Sooners' most potent offensive quarter was the fourth, when it outscored the Hawks 27-15. OU converted on nearly every possession down the stretch, outscoring the Hawks 21-8 over the final seven minutes. Woodard, who finished 3-for-4 from 3-point range, drained a pair of triples in the last 6:36. Spangler, a 6-8, 230-pounder, added two treys on three attempts on the night.

"I think we played all right," said Spangler. "There are definitely a lot of things we need to work on. But we have a long way until the season starts and that's why we're here -- to get better."

Said Woodard, "They told me I only had two turnovers, so that's a good starting point. I could do better and I'm going to cut (that number) down. But Coach was pleased with how I pushed the ball. I was really happy with the way I shot the ball. My teammates got me a lot of open looks, so that was good."

Also scoring for the Sooners were Isaiah Cousins (12 points), Je'lon Hornbeak (11), Bennett (8), Frank Booker (8), C.J. Cole (4) and Tyler Neal (4). Bennett pulled down nine rebounds while Hornbeak recorded a game-high four steals, all in the second half.

Gregory De Pooter led Ghent with 20 points, while Robin Spaens netted 16 and Sebastien Bellin 15. The Hawks shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range (12-for-29) and outscored OU by 12 from behind the arc.

The Sooners will play again Friday night versus Waragem at 8:30 local time (1:30 p.m. CT).

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