CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Jordan Goldwire and Umoja Gibson each scored 13 points and Oklahoma (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) beat East Carolina (3-1, 0-0 American) 79-74 on Thursday night in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
Tristen Newton’s 3-pointer pulled the Pirates to 77-74 with 13 seconds left, their closest margin since the opening minute of the second half. Goldwire sealed it with two free throws.
Tanner Groves and Jalen Hill added 12 points apiece for Oklahoma (3-0). Elijah Harkless had 10 points. They combined for 17 of the Sooners’ 31 rebounds.
Gibson made three 3-pointers while five others made one apiece for the Sooners, who shot 52% (25 of 48) overall.
Groves opened the second half with a three-point play, sparking a 22-6 run that stretched the Sooners’ one-point halftime lead to 61-49, their largest advantage of the game. Harkless added seven points during the stretch.
Newton scored 18 points to lead East Carolina (3-1). Brandon Suggs added 14 points and Tremont Robinson-White had 12.
It was the first meeting between the teams, and Oklahoma’s first in the invitational.
From OU head coach Porter Moser ...
“We were fortunate to find a way to win. We haven’t been in a close game yet. This was good for us to grow. I’ve got to give East Carolina credit. Their length bothered us in a lot of areas, they were resilient making shots down at the end. We had to find a way to make some plays and we did just enough to win.” (On shooting 65 percent in the first half but holding only a one-point lead) “It is an easy explanation – 10 turnovers. We gave away possessions. It was a combination of turnovers being forced by their length and athleticism and then us sometimes not being as tough as we need to be. We just wanted to be physical with them trying to wall up and everything. Sometimes when you have a lead, and we did mention it to them, we’ve got to stay the aggressor. We’ve got to be aggressive on offense, aggressive on defense. Sometimes you play not to lose, especially early in the year when you haven’t had a close game yet. I thought (guard) Elijah Harkless made some toughness plays. (Forward) Jalen Hill made some toughness plays. Not only is their coach new, but they’re all new to each other. That’s the biggest thing about trying to come together.”
Oklahoma will play either Indiana State or Old Dominon in the semifinal round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational Friday, Nov. 19.
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