OU basketball: 3 takeaways from Sooners' 99-77 loss at Xavier
OU’s men’s basketball team ran into a buzzsaw.
Xavier rarely misfired and the Sooners had little answer in a road matchup in the annual Big 12/Big East series.
OU fell 99-77 on Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
The loss drops the Sooners to 2-1 on the season, while Xavier is the first team in the country to seven victories.
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Here are three takeaways from the game:
It’s easy to put a lot of blame on the Sooners’ defense.
It struggled — particularly defending the 3-pointer — but Xavier’s offense was also scorching hot.
Xavier made 19 of 32 3-pointers, setting a school record for 3-pointers made in a game. The previous record was 16.
Xavier also shot 57% overall and wasted little opportunities that it received from OU.
A big 14-4 run to close the first half created separation. Then, Xavier remained hot to open the second half, building a 19-point lead just 4 minutes into the half.
Forward Zach Freemantle was the biggest problem. He made his first seven shots — including two 3s — and finished with 16 points in the opening half. He ultimately scored 28 points.
Guards Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson were also red hot. Scruggs scored 20 points, making 4 of 5 from deep.
And Johnson caught fire after the Sooners looked primed to cut into their deficit and make things interesting in the final 8 minutes.
He hit one 3-pointer on a catch-and-shoot. After a turnover by Austin Reaves, Johnson again hit another 3 for a 20-point lead with 7:04 remaining.
Johnson finished with 25 points, making 7 of 9 3s.
Sooners’ offense doesn’t slack
As much as the Sooners’ defense struggled, their offense was again potent.
It just wasn’t enough to shoot 48.3% and score 36 points in the paint.
Senior Brady Manek scored 17 points and four rebounds, while Reaves pitched in 13 points, four assists and three rebounds. And the return of Victor Iwuakor was a nice boost as he scored 10 points in the second half.
But OU was still outrebounded 33-28.
And the Sooners committed 11 turnovers, including six from Reaves in his third game as the primary point guard. He had entered with just one turnover in each of the first two games.
Xavier took advantage of the turnovers, scoring 19 points.
OU coach Lon Kruger opted to change his starting five from the first two games, inserting De’Vion Harmon instead of North Texas transfer Umoja Gibson.
It had mixed results.
Harmon entered red hot as the sixth man, but he got into foul trouble early and ultimately scored just 11 points.
Gibson, who had not played less than 18 minutes in the first two games, played just 14 minutes and missed each of his three shot attempts.