Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
All there is to know from a bad night of Sooner basketball
Porter Moser told the truth, that his team didn't bring it Wednesday night in Austin
I despise the list column
You know … “Four takeaways from Oklahoma’s 76-0 victory over Western Carolina” or “Three things to watch as the Sooners prepare to meet Iowa State” or “Four things Saturday afternoon told us about Cowboy football.”
I despise them because all I see is “a bunch of words even though I’m out of ideas.”
Yet, horror of horrors, people seem to like them and, maybe, in good hands, they’re useful.
So you know what’s coming.
The Oklahoma men played what all Sooner fans must hope to be their worst game of the season Wednesday night at Texas’ Frank Erwin Center, the Longhorns’ arena for this season and no more.
So modern when built.
Not remotely intimate.
Remind you of another arena?
Anyway, OU fell 66-52, dropped to 12-4 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12 , while Texas improved to 13-3 and 3-1 and there’s no perfect thread to capture the Sooners’ relentlessly inadequate performance, and only three days after a seeming breakthrough victory over Iowa State, leaving us to hit it with a five-things list full of humor and insight, the only two qualities, together, capable of saving a lazy format.
1. Porter Moser calls it like he sees it and that’s great:
Have you noticed?
Think about this.
How often have you heard football coaches talk lack of execution as though the problem wasn’t effort, focus, poor practice habits, arriving mentally unprepared, lack of urgency or lack of discipline. Instead, the only problem was, sometimes, the players made mistakes.
I’ve heard it a million times and not one time believed it, because when the issue is self-inflicted snafus, 100 percent of the time the problem is one of the above, some of the above or all of them.
Moser, gloriously, doesn’t do that.
On this night, Tanner Groves, the Sooner center who entered averaging a team-high 14.3 points and 6 rebounds did the impossible, fractionally improving his best-in-conference 59.1 shooting percentage even as he finished scored all of two points.
He did it by making his only shot, a dunk, over 16 minutes of court time, limited by early foul trouble and poor play.
“He got a foul in the first 10 seconds and he played like it,” Moser said.
The problem wasn’t execution.
Just bad basketball
2. OU’s going nowhere turning the ball over like it’s turning the ball over:
The numbers were 17 and 7, turnovers and assists, marking the Sooners’ lowest helper total of the season and the third time they’d turn it over so much (though they also turned it over 20 times against Alcorn State and 19 against Central Florida).
Entering, OU’s 14.3 turnovers per game had the Sooners in a tie for 263rd (alongside LSU, Moorehead State and Sacred Heart) — among 350 Division I programs, which might be all right for a team averaging 85 points per outing, but the Sooners entered averaging 74.3, good for 117th, and exited averaging 73.3, which may knock them out of the top 150.
Moser mentions it all the time, but it’s not improving. The last six times OU’s taken the floor, the giveaway average is 16.
If it doesn’t get better, the season will end sooner than it should, because it will lead to a loss that shouldn’t be lost.
3. The good news is OU couldn’t make anything beyond the arc:
Perhaps an odd way of putting it, but maybe you get it. Against the ’Horns, the Sooners made 1 of 13 3-point attempts and if you’re going to lay down and die on your Red River rival’s court, you might as well do it the same night you can’t hit water from a boat.
Of course, the shooting problem wasn’t a shooting problem, as in sometimes the ball just doesn’t go down — sometimes it doesn’t, but not nearly as often you hear it said — the problem was what Mo Gibson mentioned in a locker room interview afterward.
“We didn’t come out mentally ready,” he said, and when you do that all kinds of things become suspect and all kinds of things can go wrong and one of them is an inability to hit wide open 3-pointers, which the Sooners missed over and over again.
4. Moore good news (probably), the ’Horns aren’t that good, really:
The guys calling the game on The Longhorn Network — available at no cost if you’re willing to look for a stream and watch it on your computer — Lowell Galindo and Lance Blanks, went on and on about how Texas was disrupting OU in a way it hadn’t disrupted a quality opponent all season.
“You are seeing Texas at its best right now,” Galindo said, even though the ’Horns entered ranked 14th and No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing 53.1 points per game.
“Let’s be honest,” Galindo said at one point, explaining Texas had forged that number against less-than-good competition, which is true.
Texas has held Houston Baptist to 48, Northern Colorado to 49, San Jose State to 45, Cal Baptist to 44, Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 31, Alcorn State to 48 and Incarnate Word to 33.
We should probably mention Texas also held Stanford to 53, beating the Cardinal 60-53, who Wednesday handed fifth-ranked Southern Cal its first loss.
We should probably mention, too, that Stanford is just 9-4 and Gonzaga, on the other hand, is 12-2, ranked No. 2, and beat Texas 86-74 on Nov. 13.
5. Harkless, Gibson can’t suck:
As mentioned in a previous column, the crux of which was Bijan Cortes’ performance put a bigger season on OU’s table, the two players on the roster who to watch them is to anticipate one or both breaking out a big game are Elijah Harkless and Gibson and both were terrible against the ’Horns.
The pair combined to make 6 of 21 shots, Harkless the lesser of the two, hitting 3 of 12, and went 1 of 8 from 3-point land, Gibson making 1 of 3. They also combined on a single assist against six turnovers, Gibson offering the lone helper.
They can’t do that.
They have to be better for their team to go anywhere.
That’s you go. End of the list.
Better Wednesday happen away from home against a rival in a game that was never supposed to be easy. Still, best that it not happen at all, because nobody benefits from rotten basketball and that’s what OU played.
“We’ve got to play a lot tougher than we did tonight,” Moser said.
It ain’t about execution.
Hope you enjoyed the list.
Next: OU at TCU, 3 p.m., Saturday