Oklahoma 68, UTEP 61
Oklahoma (3-0), the other Big 12 team in the tourney, got 16 points from Romero Osby despite a myriad of defenses thrown at him by UTEP (1-2) and OU coach Lon Kruger said he thought his team handled the Miners' defense fairly well. Osby managed 16 points and OU's ball movement was key to getting good looks for him. Osby hit 6-of-10 floor shots.
"It's a good experience for ourselves because it's one of those things that's hard to practice against," Kruger said of UTEP's defensive schemes for Osby. The Miners used a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two for potions of the game. "UTEP does a lot of it so they do it pretty well. So to see that in an early-season game gives us some experience that we'll benefit from later."
The Sooners looked like they were going to have an easy time of it in jumping out to the early 16-point lead, but Clemson did not go away. The Tigers were within 64-60 with 1:44 left. OU, however, got a 3-pointer from Steven Pledger and that was enough to seal it.
"We just couldn't get a shot down there for awhile," Kruger said. "They're a tough ball club and they hung in there until the end, but we'll learn from it."
Gonzaga 57, Clemson 49
The way Clemson (2-1) started things off against Gonzaga, the only ranked team in the tourney, let the Zags know the Tigers meant business. Gonzaga 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, who was suspended for the first three games by the university after violating the student code of conduct, had two straight shots swatted back in his face by Clemson's K.J. McDaniel to start the game and the momentum carried through to halftime.
The Tigers trailed only once in the first half, leading 24-23 at the break and were ahead by as much as six at one point.
"Disappointing loss because of how hard we played and our guys did a really good job of getting the tempo we wanted," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "Our guys were ready to play and we got off to a good start to give us some confidence."
Olynyk, a redshirt last year seeing his first action since 2011, certainly noticed.
"It was a little different," Olynyk said. "It clicked to me they're actually real athletes. ... good, high-level athletes, and the coaches drilled it but sometimes film doesn't do it justice. It was kind of an awakening, but it was good for me and I tried to just pick it up from there."
Olynyk and Elias Harris led the Zags with 13 points each.
Clemson was causing havoc on defense and hitting its shots on the other end in the first half. But, as Brownell pointed out, his squad shot worse in the second half despite better looks at the basket as shots just stopped falling. Clemson hit 28 percent from the field in the second half.
"The funny thing is we shot worse in the second [half], when I thought our shots were better," Brownell said. "It's mind-boggling ... but that's basketball."
Once Gonzaga got rolling, back-up point guard David Stockton, the son of Hall of Famer John Stockton, started finding open players. Stockton had a career-high seven assists and the junior hit a stretch during an 18-6 second-half run where he had five dishes and Gonzaga pulled away.
"The real key to the game was Stockton in the second half," Brownell said.
"He's a phenomenal pocket passer ... the little pockets that come open on ball-screen-and-rolls or he'll come off something and maybe there's a window there and there aren't many people who can hit those things, and he can really, really hit them," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Stockton. "He's very adept and he's not afraid. His play probably won us the game tonight."