McALESTER — The McAlester Buffaloes couldn’t keep MacArthur’s Jariun Nolan out of the paint. Nor could they get their offense going against the faster, stronger, more athletic Highlanders.
The Buffs quickly fell behind, and without offense or defense, they stayed behind the rest of the game.
Nolan scored 31 points, leading the Highlanders past the Buffs, 80-58, Saturday at Bob Brumley Gymnasium in McAlester.
“Their athleticism forced us into making difficult shots and making difficult passes,” Buffs coach Chris Zike said.
“To beat a team like that, we have to shoot the ball better, and we didn’t shoot it very well tonight.”
Already up 18-10 after the first quarter, the Highlanders took a 10-point lead off a pass from Aaron Allen to Barry Williams for a layup early in the second. Todd Dawkins went coast-to-coast for a Buffs layup and Jalen Erving took a defensive rebound the length of the court for another, but Nolan’s jump shot made it 22-14 MacArthur.
Nolan struck again later in the second, and though Erving got one point back with a free throw, Nolan drained a layup right after to push MacArthur’s lead to 26-15. Nolan had no trouble slashing his way past McAlester defenders, attacking the shooting lanes over and over again.
“They were playing me to my off-side, so I’m going to go the other way,” Nolan said.
Trent Meisel hit a 3-pointer for MacArthur, then. Keaton Slater sank a free throw. But Trace Cook hit a 3-pointer for MacArthur, then David Burns’ steal turned into another layup by Cook that pushed MacArthur’s lead to 34-16.
“We go through (Nolan) because he’s such a talent,” MacArthur coach Kevin Harrington said. “But we’re also (a team where) you have to pick your poison, because we do have some spot-up shooters. Cook, he’s scored over 1,000 points for us. ... Usually, we get a couple guys going and we’re in pretty good shape.”