Norman, OK – The Oklahoma Sooners hosted the Vanderbilt Commodores this afternoon in a battle in the Big 12 – SEC Challenge. Vanderbilt, coming off six straight losses since the beginning of SEC play, needed a win desperately, but the 14-5 Sooners proved too much to handle, easily running away with an 86-55 win.
Jamal Bieniemy and the Sooner defense came out ready to play, forcing 14 turnovers in the first half. Three Commodores had three or more turnovers in the half alone, including four from 6’10 freshman Simisola Shittu. Shittu came to Nashville as the No. 11 overall recruit according to 247Sports, and physically he looked every bit the part. At a lean 240 pounds, he’s got high potential as an NBA prospect, but today there were some struggles.
After 20 minutes, Oklahoma led 11-0 in second chance points and three starters were in double-digit points. They continued to pour it on after the break, expanding their lead to 69-43 by the under 8:00 timeout. After 22 turnovers and surrendering a 52-30 split in points in the paint, Vanderbilt didn’t have anything left in the tank.
Although he didn’t score a single point today, Bieniemy had himself a great game. He logged five rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in 29 minutes, and really anchored the Sooner defense. He was constantly causing trouble for the ball handlers and fought really hard over screens to deny the passing lanes. He has been shining bright the last few games and has really earned himself the increase in minutes. He averages 20.4 minutes on the year but over his last three contests he’s playing 33.3 minutes.
One bright spot for the visitors was sophomore PG Saben Lee. Lee scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, and added eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. At 6’2 with decent length, he showed high level athleticism, especially when rebounding. He’s got good lateral quickness, straight-line speed, and is really bouncy around the rim. Lee was ranked 105th nationally in the 247Sports recruiting class of 2017, so it’s nice to see the development physically. He needs to bring down his turnover numbers as he had six today, but he shows promise due to his athleticism and ability to put the ball on the floor.
Up next: Vanderbilt travels to Lexington, KY to play the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats. Oklahoma hosts Baylor.