Oklahoma Takes Care Of UTSA In 97-85 Win, Moves Focus To No. 25 USC
The first major cold front came through, and it found its way inside the Lloyd Noble Center on Monday night. Oklahoma and UTSA began the game shooting a combined 8/32 from the floor. Neither team shot near or above 50% when the clock struck 0:00 at the end of the first half. For a team averaging over 90 points a game, it is unusual to see the ball not go through the hoop at an alarming rate.
So, what was the main cause for this? For Lon Kruger, it was just Oklahoma getting away from how they have been playing.
“We had shots, but they weren’t quite as good as shots as we’ve been getting,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said after the 97-85 win on Monday. “I thought UTSA did a good job. We didn’t move the ball quite as well as we’ve been moving it.”
The second half was a different story. Oklahoma’s shot selection did not improve as one would think, but their ball movement did. After shooting 40.5% in the first half, the Sooners shot 50% with the help of establishing an inside presence.
“When you’re not making them, you’ve got to go inside,” Kruger said. “I thought we did that early in the second half and made some plays from there.”
“We’re getting a lot of open shots, and we’re going to be in games where it’s going to feel like we’re not missing.” Trae Young said following the game. “We’re not hitting our shots right now, but that’s fine. We’re getting good shots, good open looks, and eventually they’re going to start falling.”
Former assistant coach Steve Henson made his return back to the Lloyd Noble Center for the first time as an opposing head coach. He accepted the head coaching job at UTSA following the 2015-2016 season that saw Oklahoma make a run to the Final Four. According to Lon Kruger, Henson and himself had been tied together since 1986.
The pregame storyline with Henson’s return home quickly returned back to freshman Trae Young. It wasn’t a typical night shooting for the freshman, but he scored eight straight points in a minute of action late in the first half to spark him for the rest of the game. Young showed why he is the current leader in scoring in the Big 12 and NCAA as he tallied 28 points on 9/22 shooting and eight assists. He was two points away from becoming the first Oklahoma player to exceed thirty points in four straight games since Wayman Tisdale.
The last two games with North Texas and UTSA were buffers from the PK 80 Invitational to the next two games. Oklahoma faced two potential tournament teams in Portland, and now they will to do it again. First, it will be the Sooners first ranked matchup of the season against No. 25 USC.
Although Lon Kruger hasn’t had a chance to scout the Trojans, he has been able to catch them on television in his spare time.
“(I) know they are very skilled, very talented,” Kruger said. “Their inside guys are very, very talented. McLaughlin at the point is terrific. Boatwright, I mean they got a ton of guys who are very very good.”
The opportunity to play at a place like the Staples’ Center does not come around often. The history and tradition of the Lakers’ and Clippers’ home can not be understated when talking about the history of basketball.
Trae Young has gotten the chance to play at the Madhouse on Madison in Chicago and the home of the Brooklyn Nets’ in Chicago. However, playing at the Staples Center would mark it off his list.
“I mean, yeah it definitely is,” Young said if that is a place he has wanted to play at. “I’ve been blessed enough to be able to play in the Bulls’ arena, the Brooklyn Nets’ arena, obviously Portland, and now LA. It’s going to be fun. That is a legendary place to play.”
With the win against UTSA, Lon Kruger and Company moved to 6-1 on the year. They take on No. 25 USC in the bright lights of Los Angeles on Friday at 9:30 PM.