Christian James scored Oklahoma’s final nine points, finishing with a game-high 25 points to lift the Sooners to an 85-80 win over Notre Dame on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Oklahoma (7-1) led for all but 4:44 of the game but never was able to get very comfortable, as the Fighting Irish (6-2) kept it close throughout.
With Notre Dame nipping at the Sooners’ heels in the final minutes, James hit two critical shots to keep Oklahoma in front.
First, after Prentiss Hubb cut the Sooners’ lead to one with 2:26 remaining, James responded with a jumper to extend the lead to three. Then James hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining to extend the lead to five.
James’ shot was the final of 15 Oklahoma 3-pointers in the game, including eight in the second half.
James, who scored 16 of his points after halftime, added 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Brady Manek had 17 points and sank five 3-pointers. Aaron Calixte scored 12 while Matt Freeman added 11 off the bench for the Sooners.
The Fighting Irish were just 7 of 25 from behind the 3-point line.
Notre Dame was led by T.J. Gibbs’ 18 points. John Mooney and Juwan Durham scored 15 each for the Irish, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
The Sooners were without starting big man Jamuni McNeace, who suffered an ankle injury in practice.
Without McNeace available, coach Lon Kruger used a smaller, quicker lineup for much of the game, starting guard Miles Reynolds in McNeace’s place.
The lineup helped the Sooners spread the floor and create good looks from the outside, though Notre Dame took advantage of McNeace’s absence with 12 offensive rebounds, helping lead to 14 second-chance points and outscoring Oklahoma 46-26 in the paint.
The Fighting Irish also stayed in the game by taking advantage of Oklahoma’s turnovers, scoring 15 points off 12 Sooners giveaways.
Oklahoma built an eight-point lead late in the first half with a 15-4 run, fueled by eight points by Calixte.
—Field Level Media