for this game

Oklahoma outlasts pesky Rice

Dec 23, 2008 - 4:22 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Blake Griffin was bloodied. Freshman Willie Warren made sure fourth-ranked Oklahoma remained unbowed.

Warren scored a season-high 31 points to lead Oklahoma to its 12th straight win, a 70-58 victory over Rice on Monday.

With the win, the Sooners equaled their best start since 1989-90, when they also opened 12-0.

"Very hard game," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "I thought Rice played really well. I give those guys a lot of credit."

Griffin, the Sooners' star player, was forced to the sidelines with 9:04 left in the second half after suffering a cut underneath his right eye. The trainer bandaged the wound, which left blood streaming down the 6-10 sophomore's face.

He was back less than a minute later and was needed as the Owls gave the Sooners everything they could handle and more in the 5,200-seat arena that seemed filled with more fans from crimson-and-cream than the home team.

Adding to the Sooners' frustrations were faulty clocks; at one point all three clocks showed different times left in the game in the second half.

Griffin wound up with another double-double - 27 points and 11 rebounds - as Oklahoma edged away late. With the score at 52-46, Griffin made a power move to the hoop, hit the basket and was fouled. He sank the foul shot to build the advantage to nine with 5:45 left as part of a 10-0 run that broke a 46-46 tie.

The Sooners (12-0) relied on Griffin and Warren for almost their entire offense, as the pair scored 58 of Oklahoma's 70 points, equaling Rice's total output.

"We got two great performances by Blake and Willie," Capel said.

Warren, a 6-4 freshman, was 11-of-17 from the floor, including 4-of-9 on 3-pointers. A native of Fort Worth, he drilled a 23-footer to make it 66-53.

"Every game he's getting better," Capel said of Warren. "For a freshman to score 31 in his first road game speaks volumes."

The Owls ran off five straight points, but Griffin grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss by Warren and sank the putback to make it 68-58.

Rice (4-7) also had a two-pronged attack. Cory Pflieger had 17 points and Lawrence Gorham added 16.

"We let them get going," Capel said. "Two things hurt us - turnovers and free-throw shooting. If we do a better job of making free throws, the lead becomes more."