CINCINNATI- A three-point barrage from the Xavier Musketeers dealt the Oklahoma Sooners their first loss of the young 2020-21 basketball season.
Setting a new school record with 19 made threes, the Musketeers dismantled the Sooners 99-77.
“[We] didn’t do much defensively to keep them out of their rhythm,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said after the game. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Despite Xavier’s hot shooting night, the Sooners hung around for a majority of the first half.
Oklahoma survived sophomore guard De’Vion Harmon picking two fouls early after his reintroduction to the starting lineup, but with five minutes left in the first half Xavier began to assert their dominance.
Led by Paul Scruggs, Nate Johnson and Zach Freemantle, the Musketeers outscored Oklahoma 14-4 in the final five minutes of the first half, heading to the intermission with a 48-39 lead.
“Xavier was much more physical, much tougher to the ball. All things we’ve got to work a lot on,” Kruger said. “I think this game will drive that home to us even more.”
“We’ve talked about rebounding the ball stronger, being more physical, being more aggressive and this reinforces our need to do all that,” he said.
The Sooners were out rebounded 33-28 throughout the course of the game, and were ultimately unable to take advantage of their size advantage on the glass with Kur Kuath.
Senior duo Brady Manek and Austin Reaves were held in check by the Musketeers, finishing 17 points and 13 points respectively.
Reaves also surrendered a season high six turnovers against Xavier.
Kruger said he felt the uptick in turnovers could probably be attributed to Reaves just trying to make plays to get the Sooners back in the ballgame.
“Austin’s competitive, he’s just trying to make plays and probably got a little impatient there a couple of times,” Kruger said. “It’ll be an opportunity to learn from that.”
“Not too many concerns about Austin, he’ll bounce back and be just fine,” he said.
A bright spot on an otherwise dismal night for the Sooners was the return of Victor Iwuakor to the lineup.
In 10 minutes of action, Iwuakor continued to be the spark plug he was last season finishing with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, as well as adding four rebounds and a steal.
Iwuakor missed the first week of the season in quarantine, but returned to practice on Monday.
“He hadn’t done anything for two weeks, I thought he did a really good job,” Kruger said. “Obviously got a little tired, but his athletic ability and aggressiveness… we need a lot more of that from Victor.”
The Sooners will return home Saturday and play host to Florida A&M, but Kruger said the focus will be in improving on the defensive end of the floor before their next outing.
“We’ve got to be a lot more disruptive, more aggressive in getting to their shooters,” Kruger said. “This tape of the game will reinforce a lot of that.”
Tip off on Saturday between the Sooners and the Rattlers will be at 4 p.m. from the Lloyd Noble Center.