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OU men's basketball: Sooners look for answers to slow starts

NORMAN — After the Sooners’ 66-61 win over Kansas State on Saturday, Kristian Doolittle was asked what he wanted the first few minutes of Oklahoma’s games to look like.

Before he had the chance to start his answer, his teammate Austin Reaves chimed in. “Like the last 10 minutes,” Reaves said almost under his breath.

Through the first 10 minutes against the Wildcats, Oklahoma scored 13 points and gave up 18 points. Over the last 10 minutes, it scored 19 and held Kansas State to just 10 points.

As OU prepares for its first two Big 12 road games — Texas on Wednesday and Iowa State on Saturday — it is important for the Sooners to figure out how to have better starts.

Starting slow is not a new problem for OU. It has been one of the Sooners' consistent issues this season.

The Sooners (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) have trailed at halftime in seven of their 13 games so far this season. They found ways to win in five of those games.

Getting off to a fast start is hard to simulate in practice, OU coach Lon Kruger said. So it is something the team has to figure out what helps each player have a better start.

Doolittle was the only Sooner to finish the first half of the game against Kansas State scoring in double digits. He had 13 points, but even his scoring run didn’t start until there was less than 7 1/2 minutes left on the clock.

Doolittle said he was being aggressive, and that is what helped him play well in the first half. Sophomore Jamal Bieniemy said the Sooners need more focus early in the game. Thinking about the game hours in advance can get the team in the right mindset when it starts.

Reaves has a simple answer for the Sooners’ problem — just take the game one possession at a time and treat every possession like it is the last one.

“We just can’t take possessions off early and think we’re going to get it back late in the game,” Reaves said. “So just taking every possession as serious as we can from the get go.”

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Oklahoma at Texas

When: 8 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Frank Erwin Center; Austin, Texas

TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28)

Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, right, talks with Kristian Doolittle during a timeout on Saturday in Norman. The Sooners beat Kansas State 66-61 to start Big 12 play. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, right, talks with Kristian Doolittle during a timeout on Saturday in Norman. The Sooners beat Kansas State 66-61 to start Big 12 play. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f3c01d510fbcde9795b5976fc7d8c277.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, right, talks with Kristian Doolittle during a timeout on Saturday in Norman. The Sooners beat Kansas State 66-61 to start Big 12 play. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, right, talks with Kristian Doolittle during a timeout on Saturday in Norman. The Sooners beat Kansas State 66-61 to start Big 12 play. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, right, talks with Kristian Doolittle during a timeout on Saturday in Norman. The Sooners beat Kansas State 66-61 to start Big 12 play. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Abby Bitterman

Abby Bitterman covers OU athletics for The Oklahoman. She joined The Oklahoman in September 2019 to cover high school sports. A Chicago native, Abby graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May of 2019 with degrees in journalism and political... Read more ›

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