OU basketball runs out of gas, drops second straight

On3 imageby:Bob Przybylo02/17/24

BPrzybylo

You can talk about this guy playing for OU basketball or this guy not being suited up, but if you hit four shots in a half, you’re making life incredibly difficult.

After an inspiring first half, the Sooners hit the wall in the second half and Kansas took advantage en route to a 67-57 victory at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday afternoon.

Yes, OU was playing without John Hugley and Rivaldo Soares. But that felt like it was expected. And yes, KU got star Kevin McCullar back into the lineup. Those were the breaks.

But OU played inspired, earning a 34-23 lead with two minutes left in the first half before slowly falling apart. KU ended the first half on a 6-0 run, and then went to town with a 38-23 advantage in the second half.

“The offense. We were 1-for-11 from three (in the second half),” head coach Porter Moser said. “Missed a bunch of shots. I think you still can find ways to win when you’re shooting that poorly. It was just night and day. We hit seven threes in the first half.

“My thing, the story was the rebounding and the turnovers. It’s hard to defend out front turnovers that turn into layups. And it’s hard to defend offensive rebounds for layups. Points off turnovers and the offensive rebounds. Those are hard to defend. I thought we did a lot of good things defensively that we wanted to do. But points off turnovers and offensive rebounds are very hard to defend.”

After jumping back into the top 25, it was an 0-2 week for OU with double-digit losses at Baylor and vs. KU. The Sooners, finally, get the mid-week bye this week.

Jalon Moore was at his best again, with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Game 25 Takeaways

*For 30 minutes, this was a back and forth battle. And OU simply didn’t have the scoring to keep it up down the stretch. Who knows what would have happened with a healthy Soares and Hugley?

But a real problem is the continued off nights from guys like Otega Oweh and Sam Godwin. You can’t get nine points and seven rebounds combined from those two starters.

“It hurt,” said Moser about no Soares, Hugley. “I’m not gonna say it’s an excuse for the game. Those two guys are two of our better at defensive rebounding. We didn’t have a defensive rebound from our two fives that played. We had one defensive rebound. So it hurt with that.

“But we had opportunities to win. If we take care of the ball, we rebound, we shoot a little better, we have opportunities to win. I’ve gotta give them credit.”

*Soares absolutely tried to will himself into the lineup. He warmed up with the team an hour before the game before Moser told him, hey, put the street clothes on. 

“This shows you with Rivaldo. Said he never missed a game at any level in his life. Gets his uniform on and he’s down there warming up and I’m like, Waldo. So an hour before the game he was down there, fully suited up. And he was trying to go. He had the trainer down there and he was trying to go and playing and I’m like, ‘go get your street clothes on.’

“He really wanted to go and he just was bout 50-60 percent and I was just not going to do that to him. It’s just not worth it to me. I would never put him in jeopardy. So his progress has been great these three days. Now he’s got a week off. So I think check with us throughout the week and I’m hoping his progress continues. But that kid was in his uniform warming up an hour before the game and I had to pull him out. I had to get him in his street clothes.”

*If Lawrence was the best of Luke Northweather, this battle vs. KU is one he’d like to forget. Northweather scored his only two points in the final minute and missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

Back to the drawing board, but Moser said it’s up to him as well.

“We gotta help him,” Moser said. “I gotta help him as a coach. With his confidence. He’s a good passer but he was getting kind of caught there with one dribble picking it up. But I gotta help. I gotta be a better head coach for him. He’s young. We gotta get through this.

“And when he gets through this, he’s gonna help us a lot. He’s gonna help us a lot. And the guys see it in practice every day, doing some of the things and it’s going to translate and I need to help him get that to translate onto the floor from practice.”

*Scary moment in the final minute with Javian McCollum flying into videographers. It took him a while to get back to his feet, but it sounds like he’ll be OK.

“He’s fine. He’s getting looked at right now,” Moser said. “I’ll check more on him after this. From the last time I checked he was fine.”

McCollum had 15 points and made three 3-pointers.

Up next

OU (18-8, 6-7) finally gets that rest. Finally. Might be a week too late. But the Sooners can take a deep breath, reevaluate things and get back to work. But now? Bedlam next Saturday at Oklahoma State becomes a must-win type of outing. OU has not won in Stillwater under Moser.

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