Sooners stunned in opener
You could sense it. Slowly but surely, the narrative for Oklahoma basketball’s season opener started to change.
It began as win with some style. That wasn’t going to happen. Then just win and know you have a lot to work on. Nope. Survive? Unbelievably, not so.
Sam Houston’s Lamar Wilkerson drained a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to shockingly upset the Sooners 52-51 in the season opener for both teams Monday evening at Lloyd Noble Center.
OU was up 46-34 with 5:14 left when everything fell apart. The Sooners were tentative offensively. Sam Houston hit a few shots to breathe new life into the game. Grant Sherfield started to cramp, and OU had no answers on this night.
“I don't think we were downhill enough and aggressive enough offensively in the last five minutes,” head coach Porter Moser said. “I think we were tentative to be honest with you. I thought we were really tentative and it flipped. They make some shots and all of a sudden they become the aggressor and you start playing not to lose. Offensively I thought we played a little not to lose down the stretch.”
And defensively, it fell apart. OU was locked in for the first 33 minutes of the game, but Sam Houston scored on seven of the final eight possessions.
OU had the ball with 30 seconds left and nursing a 51-49 lead and got a really good play that resulted in Tanner Groves missing a layup, and Sam Houston pushing toward the other end.
The Sooners didn’t respond well to the scramble drill, allowing the Bearkats to push it up the floor and for Wilkerson to provide the heroics.
“My job is to get us better and to lead through this,” Moser said. “It’s a long basketball season. This is not going to define us. How we react to this is going to define us. That’s going to define us, how we react to this.
“And I only know one way, that’s to look in the mirror, find out where we’re going to get better, and have all of them do the same and be closer than we’ve ever been. Not the time to get splintered. Super disappointed. Really, really disappointed, and we’ve got work to do. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Sam Houston’s defense had OU’s offense searching for answers most of the night. The Sooners had zero field goals converted by Jalen Hill, C.J. Noland, two starters who combined shooting 0-for-12 from the field. The Sooners also had 21 turnovers against just six assists.
“I think they just took us out of a lot of our stuff, and we didn't get to a lot of the action,” Tanner Groves said. “They were pushing out on a lot of our catches, and it just made it a lot easier to guard us. What you guys all saw tonight, that's not what we've seen every day going into practice. We're going to look back at the end of the year and we're going to look at this loss at just a major learning lesson along the way. I think it's going to help us.”
Sherfield led the way with 14 points but limited in the final minutes from a cramping issue because of how hard he had to work. Tanner and Jacob Groves each pitched in with 11 points. Tanner had nine rebounds and three blocks.
Joe Bamisile, expected to a pretty big contributor, only played 13 minutes and had six points.
“We went with some veterans,” Moser said. “We’ve got to learn to trust defensively some guys. We had a lead and it wasn’t as much as scoring, we’ve got to have good defensive possessions. We ran a nice little inbounds play for him, full court, we got Joe a layup on that coming out of a little timeout.
“I’ve got to keep moving Joe in more because Joe can score, Joe can go downhill. And the more Joe learns the defense, the better we’re going to be.
OU will look to bounce back vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Friday evening at LNC. Pine-Bluff nearly upset TCU in Fort Worth on Monday.