With the Sooners (5-1) protecting a slim 53-49 lead, James hit a spinning, one-handed floater off the glass that propelled Oklahoma on a 12-5 run to close the game. As he headed back down the court, James briefly flexed his arms in a show of shooting strength.
James finished with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting (4-of-8 from 3-point range), and also had five rebounds and four assists.
“No question, he’s been a consistently good scorer for us,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “He’s shooting with confidence, making good plays. He made some really strong plays taking the ball to the basket. So I like what he’s doing a lot.”
James said the key to his game so far this season has been “confidence.” That self-assurance was particularly noticeable late in the game after Jordan Davis sank a 3-pointer to pull Dayton (4-2) to within a single basket at 52-50. It took only 20 seconds for James to answer with a 3-pointer of his own that extended the lead back to five.
“I’ve put the time in at the gym, and my teammates tell me they need me to score,” James said. “So that takes a load off of me, just knowing that I can relax, play my game and just let it flow.”
OU center Jamuni McNeace powered his way to 16 points and eight rebounds. And guard Miles Reynolds frustrated the Flyers into fouling him so many times that he went 13-of-14 from the free-throw line – including 6-for-6 in the final 34 seconds – and scored 17 points.
After trailing 34-28 at halftime, Dayton opened the second half by scoring 13 consecutive points in barely three minutes to take a 41-34 lead. Four different players scored during that stretch, including Trey Landers, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
But the Sooners answered moments later with an 8-0 run of their own, and they pulled away down the stretch.
“We came out with great energy, but we just weren’t able to sustain it for the entire second half,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Three games in three days, we had guys with some heavy minutes that probably caught up to us a little bit.
“But give Oklahoma credit. They battled. They had the same situation in terms of the number of games in a short period of time, and they were able to overcome those things.”