By Denis P. Gorman, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Christian James scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Oklahoma to an 85-80 win over Notre Dame in the first game of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Oklahoma improved to 7-1 with its third straight win. Brady Manek chipped in with 17. Aaron Calixte finished with 12, and Matt Freeman had 11.
Despite an 18-point performance from TJ Gibbs, Notre Dame dropped to 6-2 with its first loss since Nov. 14. Juwan Durham and John Mooney had 15 each, and DJ Harvey finished with 11.
The first ever meeting between the programs was a back and forth affair throughout.
Leading by seven at the start of the second half, Oklahoma extended its lead to 47-36 after Calixte knocked down a jumper.
The Irish replied with a 21-9 run, capped by a Juwan Durham dunk to close within 57-56.
Seconds after Durham’s jam, a James layup allowed Oklahoma to push its lead to three, and the Sooners would lead by as much as seven following a Freeman 3. But the Irish would not go away, cutting the deficit to 78-77 after Prentiss Hubb’s layup with 2:26 left.
That was as close as Notre Dame would come.
James’ jumper pushed the lead back to three, and he drilled a 3 to give the Sooners an 83-78 lead.
Oklahoma outscored Notre Dame 12-6 in the final 4:26 of the first half and led 43-36 at halftime.
NOTRE DAME: The NCAA ranked the Irish as the third best 3-point shooting team in men’s college basketball since the turn of the century, trailing only Duke and Belmont. Notre Dame’s marksmanship behind the arc did not carry over to Madison Square Garden, as the Irish shot 28.0 (7 for 25) percent from 3.
OKLAHOMA: Coaches value having a go-to scorer and scoring depth. In his ninth year at Oklahoma, Lon Kruger appears to have both. Entering Tuesday night’s nationally televised game, senior guard Christian James led the team with 19.1 points per game, while Jamuni McNeace (9.9 PPG), Miles Reynolds (9.1 PPG), Aaron Calixte (9.0 PPG) and Brady Manek (8.9 PPG) have also contributed offensively.
NOTRE DAME: Travels to UCLA Saturday night.
OKLAHOMA: Hosts Wichita State Saturday.
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