BROKEN BOW — The McAlester Buffaloes played flat enough in the first half to get coach Chris Zike shouting in frustration.
Whatever Zike told the Buffs at halftime, it worked.
Four Buffs scored at least 10 points, and McAlester used a 26-point third quarter to beat the Idabel Warriors, 64-48, Saturday at the Savage Classic in Broken Bow.
It was McAlester’s most lopsided win of the season, and the team’s best defensive performance since allowing 40 points against Hugo in its season-opener Dec. 3.
“I told them it was on them,” Zike said. “If they ever decide to figure it out and wanted to compete and play hard for the entire game, they have a chance to be pretty good. But if not, if they’re going to go out like they did in the first half and play the exact same way, it’s going to be a tight ballgame.”
Starting with Jalen Erving’s jump shot that tied the game 27-27, the Buffs opened the third quarter with a 22-4 run. Idabel couldn’t score on its next possession, then Erving got it to Todd Dawkins for another jumper and a 29-27 lead.
McAlester’s defense also improved in the second half, with a steal leading to Eli Boyle passing to Erving for a fastbreak layup. Erving scored 13 for the Buffs, including 6 in the third quarter.
“Our momentum, intensity, defense and communication, we picked them up,” Erving said.
“Second half, we come out and we competed as one team. We all had the same mindset, same intensity. Everyone was communicating.”
Idabel guard Demetrius Faulks’ jumper pulled the game to within 2, but on the Buffs’ next possession Dawkins found Keaton Slater under the basket for a layup.
Despite the strength of McAlester’s outside shooters, the Buffs took few 3-point shots during the game, with all four 3-pointers coming in the first half. Instead, the Buffs successfully used Slater, the tallest player on the court, to run an interior offense in which all of McAlester’s scorers repeatedly attacked the paint for layups or short-range jump shots.