Writer: Lars Anderson
Game: Oklahoma vs. Saint Joseph's
Post time: 11:25 PM
BIRMINGHAM -- As Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel walked off the court for the halftime break of the Sooners' game against Saint Joseph's, he yelled out to the player who absolutely has the best surname in this year's tournament. "Hey Godbold," Capel said to his senior shooting guard David Godbold, who had scored seven first-half points. "Keep it going, baby."
Godbold did, ripping off 11 points in the first three minutes of the second half to give the Sooners a 17-point lead and put them on their way to a 72-64 win. Godbold, who averaged 6.2 points per game during the season, finished with 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field. If the Sooners are going to have any chance of knocking off third-seeded Louisville on Sunday afternoon (as I write this, the Cardinals are steamrolling over Boise State), they'll need a repeat performance from Godbold, because he's the closest thing Oklahoma has to a legit three-point threat.
A 29-percent shooter from beyond the arc this season, Godbold hit 5-of-8 treys against the Hawks; he had missed seven of his last eight heading into Friday's game, but spent the previous four days of practice focusing on two things: exaggerating his follow-through on his shot and getting as much lift as possible on every jumper.
"It just goes back to how I've been practicing," said Godbold. "[Our lowpost players] always get double-teamed. They have to get respect down there so I have to be able to knock down the shot when they kick it out and that's what I did a good job of doing today."
If Godbold has his stroke again on Sunday, it should in fact open up space inside for Oklahoma super-freshman Blake Griffin, a 6-foot-10 all Big-12 forward who led the Sooners in points (15.0 per game) and rebounds (9.4) this season. Getting Griffin as many touches as possible -- along with getting another stellar shooting night from Godbold -- will be the keys in OU's bid to upset Louisville.
Along with Godbold's performance, here are two other things I liked on Friday night in Birmingham: St. Joseph's mascot, a Hawk who didn't stop waving his wings up and down the ENTIRE game; and the collective memory of the Oklahoma fans, who showered the Boise State team with boos when they ran onto the court for the final game of the evening -- a little payback the '07 Fiesta Bowl when Boise upset the Sooners.