That loss to Sam Houston State feels like forever ago for the Oklahoma Sooners, who are now 6-1 after beating Ole Miss in the championship game of the ESPN Events Invitational.
Oklahoma trailed by three with just under five minutes to play before Bijan Cortes provided a spark on the defensive end with a steal and finished at the other end to make it a one-point game. After a Rebels miss, Cortes corralled the defensive rebound and scored again, to give the Sooners the lead for good.
The Sooners continued their hot shooting in Orlando by hitting 4 of 7 from three and shooting 52% from the field. Ole Miss shot for 45.1% from the field and just 33.3% from three.
It was a team win, with four players scoring in double-figures. Grant Sherfield led the Sooners yet again with 12 points. Tanner Groves had 10 points, while Jacob Groves and Jalen Hill provided seven a piece for the starting lineup.
Sam Godwin provided a spark off the bench for the second game in a row. He finished with 11 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds. Bijan Cortes was 4 of 4 from the field for 10 points in the game. Cortes also had four steals, three rebounds, and two assists in 23 minutes of work off the bench.
Oklahoma won the rebounding battle over the Rebels and were even in turnovers.
It was an important win for the Sooners, who will next take on Villanova on the road. They’ll finish their nonconference slate with games against Kansas City, No. 9 Arkansas, Central Arkansas, and at home against Florida before taking on No. 4 Texas in the Big 12 opener.
Those games against Arkansas and Florida will prove pivotal to their tournament chances come March. Wins against those future SEC foes would provide strong bullet points on their resume come tournament time. With as tough as the Big 12 is, the Sooners need to finish their nonconference slate on a high note. Wins will be tougher to come by once they enter conference play.