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Blake Griffin lifts Sooners in conference opener

Jan 11, 2009 - 3:24 AM MANHATTAN, Kansas (Ticker) -- Blake Griffin collected 29 points and 15 rebounds as sixth-ranked Oklahoma pulled away for a 61-53 victory over Kansas State on Saturday.

Playing their Big 12 Conference opener, the Sooners (15-1, 1-0) were sluggish in the first half before taking control over the final 20 minutes.

"I can't speak for Kansas State, but I thought it was a pretty ugly game offensively, but fortunately for us we were able to finish some plays and Blake (Griffin) was tremendous," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said.

"It feels really good to get this win, it is the first time for an Oklahoma men's basketball team to win on the road in the Big 12 in the North in while."

One Sooner who had no trouble was Griffin, who continued to state his case as one of the nation's best players. The 6-10 sophomore dominated the interior, making 13-of-24 shots from the floor en route to his 13th double-double of the season.

"He's very good," Wildcats forward Darren Kent said of Griffin. "He reminds you of Mike (Beasley) with his versatility, his ability to go inside and outside. He's pretty big, and it's tough to get a body on him and move him out of the lane."

Freshman Willie Warren added 10 points for the Sooners, who have won three straight since their only loss of the season.

Denis Clemente scored 18 points and Fred Brown 12 for Kansas State (11-4, 0-1), which had a six-game winning streak stopped.

With the game tied at 31-31 early in the second half, the Sooners scored nine straight points to take the lead for good. Austin Johnson drilled a 3-pointer and converted a nifty reverse layup as part of the surge.

The Sooners were in control thereafter, leading by as many as seven points. Griffin's reverse with under four minutes left provided the biggest lead at 57-41.

"We just started to take care of the ball offensively and defensively we switched it up a little bit and gave them a different look," Griffin said. "I felt like that rattled them a little bit. That led to us getting some easy fast break points."

Tony Crocker collected four steals for the Sooners, who forced 20 turnovers and held the Wildcats to 33 percent (18-of-55) shooting.

"This is a good team that we beat," Capel said. "I thought we did a tremendous job defensively. They have been averaging over 80 points a game and we held them to 53. We switched our defense up a little bit; we did some different things and were able to force some turnovers."

"We didn't play good; it happens," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "They went to that 1-3-1 zone late in the first half, and we made poor decisions that led to breakaway layups for them."

Oklahoma also was able to cruise much of the way despite getting just one point from its bench.