Ryan Spangler, the senior from Bridgecreek, Oklahoma, by way of Gonzaga, left his mark on Oklahoma basketball history last night. With only one more home game remaining in his career, the Oklahoma State game on February 24, 2016 might be his best performance as a Sooner.
Bedlam became the collision of two opposing graphs. OSU started hot and ended poorly, and OU started poorly but ended strong. For a home game that started dreadfully wrong for the Sooners, the end result was quite pleasing for OU fans who began drifting out of the Lloyd Noble Center after the second half 7:49 media timeout.
OU opened the game with three missed field goals and two turnovers. OSU was leading 10-1 when Spangler hit a three-pointer at 15:34 in the first half. The next two OSU possessions were disrupted by Spangler’s blocks. Both teams missed every shot until the 11:07 mark, following a flurry of turnovers and steals.
With 7:55 to go in the first half, OU was trailing 18-10. This is when Spangler went off: a jumper, a three-pointer, a layup, a rebound, another three-pointer, turnover, layup, rebound, rebound, and as time expired in the first half, Spangler hit another three-pointer. During this sequence, everybody else on the floor from both teams seemed to be missing shots, fouling and losing turnovers.
“You always want to see the ball go in the hoop… Felt more in rhythm today than I have the last five or six games. It was hard to miss,” Spangler said after the win.
At halftime, OU had taken the lead 27-24, with 19 points coming from Spangler along with 7 boards.
OU kind of ran away with the game in the second half. The crossing of opposing graphs was complete (see graphic).
The remarkable performance by Spangler on this night can easily be compared to what a typical game looks like for him in the stat sheet. In his career at OU, he has become more of a goal protector, agile defender and offensive pick setter. His stats tend to look something like: 3 points, 4 fouls and 9 rebounds. He has a role and usually plays within those parameters. His stats tend to be unremarkable, yet his presence on the court is constantly valuable.
On this night, Spangler led his team to victory shooting 10-13 field goals with 4-6 three-pointers and 2-4 free throws… totaling 26 points and 14 rebounds in only 29 minutes as the Sooners cruised to a 71-49 dismantling of the Cowboys.
In a game where the referees found their whistles in the second half and calling fouls at every touch… Spangler concluded the game with only one foul which came early in the second half during this spree of whistles.
OU surpassed OSU in every single statistical team category, with the exception of OU’s glaring and reoccurring failure… free throw percentage. This has, unfortunately, been OU’s only worst category for the entire season, so this statistic is not surprising.
Spangler was a rock star in a game where OU suffered long scoring droughts in the first half, one drought in particular kept OU’s total score at seven points from the 14:55 mark until the 9:38 mark.
Scoring droughts have become a common feature of OU basketball, a plague that started twenty years ago when Billy “Billy-Ball” Tubbs left the helm. Kelvin Sampson, Jeff Capel and Lon Kruger have all had their hands in this trend.
Buddy Hield was the only other starter to score in the first half recording only five points. This is five points between OU’s top three scorers that normally account for a combined 51.6 points per game: Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard. Starters Cousins, Woodard and Khadeem Lattin were outscored by the bench 3-0 in the first half.
How many articles about OU men’s basketball this season have not mentioned Hield’s name until the final paragraph? Rock on, Spangler!