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OU basketball: How Umoja Gibson went from feeling like 'chicken with his head cut off' to joining Sooners' scoring punch

OU guard Umoja Gibson (2) scored 14 points in only 16 minutes Wednesday night in the Sooners' 79-65 win over Oral Roberts in Norman. [Ty Russell/OU Athletics]
OU guard Umoja Gibson (2) scored 14 points in only 16 minutes Wednesday night in the Sooners' 79-65 win over Oral Roberts in Norman. [Ty Russell/OU Athletics]

NORMAN — Austin Reaves couldn’t have looked more comfortable.

Leading the Sooners in transition, Reaves saw Brady Manek running the floor.

Despite a defender waiting underneath the basket, Reaves lobbed a pass to the star Oklahoma forward, who threw it down for a power finish that brought the Sooner bench to its feet.

Reaves, who transitioned to the point guard position this season, turned in one of his best games as the commander of the offense.

His double-double helped Oklahoma to a 79-65 win over Oral Roberts (3-4) on Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center. The victory extended its win streak over ORU to 17.

“ORU’s a good club, they’ve battled everyone real well,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “To limit them to just a few field goals in the first half and develop a little bit of a margin, I thought was a good way to open the game.”

Oklahoma started off with a 7-0 run as Reeves assisted on the first three baskets. Using a high pick-and-roll, Reeves first found Manek for an open 3-pointer and then forward Kur Kuath for a pair of scores.

Reeves found such a rhythm passing that he didn’t hit his first shot until a few minutes remained in the first half. He stayed productive throughout the night until his scoring came alive and he finished the game as the leading scorer.

Reeves turned in 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in his fifth start as the OU point guard.

“He’s got great security as a player,” Kruger said. “He’s not worried about scoring, he’s worried about getting a good shot every time down and moving the ball. He’s very secure as a player and when he needs to go score he’s obviously capable of doing that.”

While Reeves was making plays in the first half, the Sooners found a scoring spark in Umoja Gibson, who continues to look comfortable in the Sooner offense.

Throughout the game, Gibson found creases in the Golden Eagle defense and he made them pay. The North Texas transfer finished 4 for 7 from behind the arc. He scored 14 of OU’s 40 first-half points.

Gibson, who felt like a “chicken with his head cut off” learning the new offense, said he’s close to finding his rhythm. His comfort on the floor has shown in the past two games. After hitting three 3-pointers on Saturday against Florida A&M, Gibson has a combined seven threes in the past two games.

“I’m learning a whole new terminology, learning where to be at on the floor, just picking my spots out to where to be at on the floor and being more comfortable,” Gibson said. “I’m starting to feel the flow and feel the rhythm, knowing where I need to be at and everything is flowing the right way.”

The Sooners improve to 4-1 on the season and will host Houston Baptist on Saturday.

“Overall, a good opportunity to play a good club, to learn from this and bounce back with practice in the next couple of days and preparation for another one on Saturday,” Kruger said.

James Jackson

James D. Jackson joined The Oklahoman in January 2020 to cover high school sports. He a University of Central Oklahoma graduate. During his time at UCO, James served as a sports reporter and Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, The Vista.... Read more ›