BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Oklahoma senior Buddy Hield has taken plenty of shots in crunch time and could not have looked more comfortable letting it fly again while his team roared back from a double-digit deficit in front of a packed, hostile and fully wound-up crowd.
Hield made seven of his eight 3-pointers in the second half on his way to a 32-point performance, Isaiah Cousins hit a go-ahead jumper with 4 seconds left and No. 1 Oklahoma overcame a 14-point deficit to escape with a 77-75 victory over LSU on Saturday.
“That’s all confidence,” Hield said of his flourish down the stretch, which came after he’d made one of his first five 3s. “My teammates keep lifting me up, even when I start off missing the first two of the second half. They find me in good spots and I was able to knock down good, rhythm shots.”
LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons - like Hield a top candidate for college player of the year - had his share of highlights in a 14-point performance, including a memorable driving reverse dunk. But he had trouble even getting his hands on the ball in the last 10 minutes.
LSU coach Johnny Jones emphasized the experience factor when explaining why the Tigers struggled to stop Hield, who scored at least 30 for the eighth time this season.
“He just made some huge plays out there tonight that were needed to put his team in position to win - and that’s what veteran guys do,” Jones said. “So for a guy like that to come back for his senior year and continue to improve as a player, you could see the fruits of his labor out there today.”
Cousins finished with 18 points, and Ryan Spangler had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Sooners (18-2).
LSU (13-8) didn’t go quietly. Antonio Blakeney hit a pair of late 3s, and the second tied it at 75 with 24 seconds left.
The Tigers weren’t finished until Khadeem Lattin blocked Tim Quarterman’s driving shot as time ran out.
Many fans seemed to think Quarterman was fouled. Some even hurled garbage toward the court, showering those below them with bits of ice. There was contact on the play, but it could have been tough to tell in real time who initiated it as the Sooners collapsed defensively into the paint.
“I went to the hole pretty hard and got hit, but they didn’t call the foul,” said Quarterman, who scored a team-leading 18 points. “We can’t hang our heads on that.”
Simmons finished 6 of 7 from the field, arguably too few shots for LSU’s top player. He only attempted one shot, which he missed from close range, in the final 10 minutes.
Jones said Oklahoma made defensive adjustments to deny LSU from getting the ball inside, but added, “Ben did a great job of getting where he needed to.”
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting it to him,” Jones added. “We can’t get it in there late to him where they can maybe get deflections. … As we continue to play, we’ll continue to get better at it.”
LSU players said they expected Hield to get the ball on Oklahoma’s final possession, which was part of the reason Cousins was able to rise for an open shot from just inside the foul line.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said Cousins made the right play.
“I liked the idea of Isaiah getting to his spot and getting off a good shot,” Kruger said.
Simmons’ reverse, two-handed dunk whipped the crowd into an arena-shaking frenzy and put LSU ahead 50-38. Soon after, the Tigers took their largest lead when Keith Hornsby’s jumper made it 52-38.
Oklahoma’s comeback started with a jumper by Cousins, which made it 57-46. That began a 22-8 run that included four 3s by Hield, the fourth calmly drained from the left corner to put Oklahoma up 66-65 with 4:05 remaining.
Hield hit another clutch 3 moments after snagging an offensive rebound of Cousins’ miss. Cousins got the ball back on that possession and kicked it out to Hield for a shot from the right wing that put Oklahoma up 73-72.
Oklahoma: Kruger, in his fifth season with the Sooners, reached his 100th victory with the program. … Oklahoma has hit at least 10 3s in 14 games this season, the most in one season in program history.
LSU: Craig Victor scored 15 for LSU and Blakeney finished with 11. … Simmons scored at least 10 points for the 19th time, and with nine rebounds narrowly missed what would have been his 16th 10-rebound game and 16th double-double. … Simmons had five assists, giving him 102 so far in his freshman season. … This marked the 10th visit by a No. 1 team to LSU, which has gone 2-8 in such games.
Oklahoma: Hosts TCU on Tuesday night.
LSU: Visits Auburn on Tuesday night.
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