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March 21, 2008
Godbold a surprise star for Sooners
» MORE: Rivals.com NCAA Tourney Central
He scored a career-high 25 points as the sixth-seeded Sooners knocked off 11th-seeded Saint Joseph's 72-64 in a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament East Regional. Godbold was 7-for-13 from the floor, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range. Four of his 3-pointers came in the second half.
"I think it just goes back to how I've been practicing and the coaches," said Godbold. "They stayed on me the last four days about just going hard. They also worked with me in shooting drills and made sure I kept following through on my shot. And that's what I did."
Teammate Austin Johnson said Godbold had come on in practice this week. "The coaches – when we have been doing shooting, guard shooting – they have been telling Dave to hold his follow-through up every time he shoots and trust that it's going in," Johnson said. "And I think he's been working hard on that. When I see Dave open out there, I have faith in Dave, and I know that he can knock down the open shot.
"Being a senior, Dave knows that it could have been his last game, and I think that he came out and played his heart out. He didn't want it to be his last game."
Godbold had scored only 23 total points in the Sooners' previous five games and went into the game averaging 6.9 points. He also had been dropped out of the starting lineup. After working his way into the lineup and starting the first eight games of the Big 12 season, Godbold hit the pine after a loss at Colorado. At the end of the game in Boulder on Feb. 9, he had squatted near midcourt and dribbled out the final 15 seconds.
OU coach Jeff Capel said Friday that he hadn't benched Godbold, that "what I really wanted was more experience coming off the bench for us." Godbold had started only two of the past 10 games until the NCAA Tournament, when Capel decided his previous tournament experience was worth putting Godbold back in the lineup.
"It's really exciting just to be able to start and in the NCAAs," Godbold said. "Coming off the bench, I knew Coach wanted me to bring some leadership, some energy off the bench, and I had no problem doing that. I took pride in doing that.
"Today I just wanted to come out with a lot of energy. I knew the other four always bring energy and I wanted to make sure I played up to their level, and I think I did a good job."
A large reason for many of Godbold's open looks was St. Joe's decision to double-down when Oklahoma post players Blake Griffin and Longar Longar touched the ball. The Sooners, in turn, made a concerted effort to get the ball out of the double teams more quickly. The result was uncontested shots from the perimeter.
Griffin, a former Rivals.com five-star prospect, had four assists. It was just his fourth game this season with at least four.
"It (Griffin getting doubled) helped us out," Godbold said. "Blake does a great job down there of getting the ball to the guards."
Griffin's play also drew praise from Capel. The freshman power forward added 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
"I feel bad for Blake and Longar, more so Blake because he never gets to play against single coverage," Capel said. "He gets doubled so much. But I think his experience of having to deal with that basically all year long has really helped him. For him to have four assists and one turnover, I think that opened a lot of things for our guys."
St. Joe's was caught off guard by the big night from Godbold.
"The guy that we had as the wild card, to be honest with you, was (Tony) Crocker," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "If you study their numbers, and their wins, their third scorer has always been Crocker. We studied it enough to know that it was Crocker, and we actually started the game with our post double team being off of Godbold. We didn't know that Godbold would start until 20 minutes before the game."
Twenty-five points later, the Hawks knew he had started. And because of Godbold, they're finished.
» MORE: Rivals.com NCAA Tourney Central
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.