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Griffin, Oklahoma top Utah, continue unbeaten start

Dec 14, 2008 - 1:53 AM NORMAN, Oklahoma (Ticker) -- Not even some early foul trouble and a nasty fall could trip up fifth-ranked Oklahoma and Blake Griffin.

Griffin had a season-low 11 points as one of five double-figure scorers for the Sooners, who posted a 70-52 victory over Utah on Saturday.

Austin Johnson scored 14 points and freshman Willie Warren added 12 for Oklahoma (10-0), which matched the school's best start from the 2003-04 season.

Although Griffin was forced to the bench early with two fouls, the Sooners raced out to a 16-4 lead over the first 11-plus minutes. The stellar sophomore had just four points - missing his only shot from the field - at the break, when Oklahoma held a 30-21 advantage.

"It hurt that I had to sit for so long in the first half, but other guys did a good job of coming in and keeping it going," Griffin said.

Even though he finished up in double figures for the 10th straight game this season, Griffin did fail to record a field goal, going 0-of-3 from the floor. Facing numerous double- and triple-teams, he managed his lowest point total since scoring eight in the loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament earlier this year.

"I am really proud of our guys, really proud of this win," Oklahoma Jeff Capel said. "A night when our best player played in foul trouble and didn't have a field goal for the game, we found a way to win.

"Even when Blake went out after the first three minutes I thought we still controlled the game. I thought we managed the game well, especially down the stretch."

The Sooners extended the cushion at the start of the second half, scoring 11 of the first 17 points to pull ahead 41-27 on a layup by Warren with 15:21 to play.

Griffin got tangled up with Luka Drca on the play before the Ute intentionally tripped Griffin as he was making his way down the court. Drca was given a personal foul while Warren was charged with a technical after coming to his teammate's defense.

"I just made a mistake," Drca said. "I tripped a guy, but I didn't mean to. I just wanted to win the game."

Despite the ugly incident, Utah (5-4) hung in, cutting its deficit to 55-48 on a jumper by Luke Nevill with 6:29 to play. Cade Davis then sandwiched a 3-pointer and a layup around another Utes' basket as Oklahoma went on to close the game with a 15-4 run.

"Cade stepped up and made two huge baskets for us in the second half for us," Capel said. "I thought (Tony) Crocker hit a big three and Willie (Warren) made a spectacular drive and finish and Austin (Johnson) managed the game for us. We attacked and got there and thought we did a good job once we got there."

"The game plan was to contain him and make it difficult for him to score," Nevill said of Utah's approach against Griffin. "I thought we did a really good job of that. I think in this game it was the other guys on OU's team that really hurt us. We contained Griffin pretty well."

Griffin did get free enough to pull down 11 rebounds, notching his eighth double-double of the season, as the Sooners finished with a 37-29 advantage on the boards.

Taylor Griffin and Crocker also scored 11 points for Oklahoma, which had all five of its starters reach at least 10 points. On the other hand, the reserves were outscored by Utah's 24-11.

While Blake Griffin struggled from the field, he did the majority of his damage at the free-throw line, going 11-of-14. Overall, the Sooners went 26-of-30, while the Utes attempted only 17 foul shots.

"If a team beats you from the line, I think you have to live with that," Utah coach Jim Boylen said.

Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha scored 12 points each for Utah, which shot 34 percent (17-of-50) from the field, including 5-of-21 on 3-pointers.