Crocker continues strong shooting as Oklahoma beats Tulsa 81-55

Thursday, December 6th 2007, 12:26 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

NORMAN -- A little patience has paid off for Tony Crocker.

By breaking his habit to rush immediately into his dribble, Crocker has turned in the two most productive performances of his college career in back-to-back games and become a real threat in Oklahoma's offense.

Coming off a career-high in scoring, Crocker scored 22 points and continued a hot shooting streak Wednesday night to lead the Sooners to an 81-55 victory against Tulsa.

"Tony's doing a better job of picking spots to drive and picking spots to shoot, and it's because he's slowed down a lot," Sooners coach Jeff Capel said.

Upon reviewing film of Oklahoma's loss to Memphis earlier this season, Capel noticed Crocker's tendency to begin dribbling immediately after receiving a pass.

"It was like he was trying to make something happen, so the first thing he did was dribble. He was getting himself in trouble," Capel said. "He was having high turnovers, not scoring, not really shooting the ball well. It was like he was trying to force it."

After some film study, things clicked for the sophomore guard with a career-best 24-point performance against TCU. He followed that with a 7-for-10 shooting performance against Tulsa, including making three of his four 3-point tries.

Through nine games, he's improved his 3-point shooting percentage to 57 percent this season from 36 percent last season as a freshman. He's 9-for-11 in Oklahoma's last two games.

"Coach has been talking to me like, `Don't rush, let things come,"' Crocker said.

Longar Longar added 16 points and Blake Griffin scored 13 to provide Oklahoma's usual inside force, but Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik was impressed with Crocker's ability to provide the Sooners some perimeter scoring.

"It makes a big difference," Wojcik said.

Ben Uzoh ended up with 11 points to lead the Golden Hurricane (2-4). Uzoh, Tulsa's leading scorer with a 16-point average, was held scoreless for the first 29 minutes before he and Glenn Andrews combined to hit three straight 3-pointers in an 11-0 flurry that got Tulsa within 61-38 midway through the second half after trailing by as much as 34 at one point.

Wojcik attributed Uzoh's slow start to a decision to try him at the point guard instead of on the wing after Tulsa's lackluster offensive performance in a 62-51 loss at Arkansas-Little Rock last time out.

"That probably took a little bit away from him but I'm just trying to find a combination," Wojcik said.

The Sooners limited the Golden Hurricane to 23 percent shooting and forced 10 turnovers while opening a 46-16 halftime lead in what seemed to be headed toward the most lopsided rout in a 92-year series that's never seen a game decided by 30 points or more.

Oklahoma had won 10 of the teams' 11 previous meetings, but most of them were competitive contests. The Sooners controlled this one from the start.

Tulsa took eight of its first 12 shots from 3-point range and only made one of those, but Wojcik said he didn't think his team was settling for those shots.

"I thought we had good shots the first 5 minutes of the game, and that's what we want. ... "It's just where we are. We kind of stumbled in here to Norman, and when that happened the last 15 minutes of the first half were about three hours of my life," Wojcik said.

Oklahoma built an 18-5 lead in the first 8 minutes, then pulled away even further with a 15-2 run that Crocker topped off with a 3-pointer to make it 37-12. He capped his night with a run of seven straight points after Tulsa had closed to within 68-44 in the second half.

Capel then pulled him out to a nice ovation from the crowd.

"Crock's been blessed with some talent but in order for him to make a jump, he has to work and he's done that," Capel said. "The work may not be just in a gym. The work may be up in an office watching tape with a coach or by himself.

"Tony's doing a good job of making that leap and trying to become a better basketball player."