Corey DeMoss, News9.com
NORMAN, Oklahoma – The OU men's basketball team fell behind by 10 points in the first half, but came back to beat Idaho State 78-74 Friday in its first game under new head coach Lon Kruger.
The teams started the game in seesaw fashion, combining for six lead changes in the first six minutes. But Idaho State followed with two small scoring spurts to take a 27-17 lead midway through the first half.
The Sooners responded with a 14-3 run to eliminate the deficit, which began another stretch of the teams trading the lead. The Bengals went into halftime with a three-point lead, which would match their largest advantage for the rest of the night.
The teams continued to play close to start the second half, with neither team holding a lead of larger than three for the first 10 minutes of the half. But the Sooners went on a 14-4 run to widen the gap and led by 10 with just 90 seconds left in the game. But Idaho State would not go quietly.
The Bengals scored eight points in less than 30 seconds to suddenly cut the lead to four in the final minute. But Carl Blair – who missed two straight free throws to allow Idaho State to pull so close – hit three of his final four attempts to hold off the comeback attempt.
Sophomore Calvin Newell led all scorers with 19 points off the bench for OU, while Romero Osby recorded the game's only double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Blair and Sam Grooms also scored in double figures, but combined to shoot just 5-of-17 from the field.
The victory was Lon Kruger's first as the Sooners' head coach. He joined OU after the firing of Jeff Capel last season, and entered this season with a career record of 479-304.
The Sooners will get a week off before their next game on Nov. 18 against Coppin State at Lloyd Noble Center.