The number one ranked War Eagles have been winning battle after battle and currently has the longest win streak in D1 college basketball with 16 wins.
After scoring 11 quick points, Auburn went on a four minute scoring drought missing six straight field goals and committed three turnovers during this time.
Yet that was nothing compared to Oklahoma’s scoring drought. The Sooners were incapable of scoring anything outside of free throws for nine whole minutes. Missing nine shots in a row, Oklahoma could not buy a bucket.
Jabari Smith put an abrupt end to Auburn’s scoring drought and flipped the script. He made 3 consecutive shots becoming the War Eagles only contributor to their seven-zero run.
Extending their run the War Eagles built an 11 point lead, resulting in a 22-10 score.
“They make high degree difficult shots. You can’t give them the easy ones on unacceptable against the press,” Porter Moser said.
Umoja Gibson became the Sooners saving grace, ending their drought by finishing a very long jumpshot.
Jordan Goldwire was the biggest reason Oklahoma stayed close to Auburn in the first half. In consecutive possessions, he finished a driving layup and made a shot from behind the arc for five quick points. Scoring 12 points on the first half alone on 4-7 shooting, Goldwire kept the Sooners in the game.
Moser said,” I thought Jordan Goldwire did as much as he could do to help us win.”
The Sooners made ten-of-twelve free throws in the first half, along with Goldwire’s 12 this accounted for 22 of Oklahoma’s 27 points. Auburn led Oklahoma at the half 39-27.
Jacob Groves made the first points of the second half by sinking three pointer cutting the deficit to single digits.
After going on another 2:30 scoring drought, the Sooners began chipping away at the War Eagle’s lead once again. Gibson makes a shot from behind the arc, then moments later Ethan Chargois forces a steal and Gibson finishes an open layup in transition.
Coming in clutch for the Sooners again, Gibson sinks a corner three and is fouled. He capitalized at the free throw line and makes the four point play. This decreased Auburn’s lead to only six points.
“I like that we kept on fighting back,” Moser said.
Only being down by two possessions gave Oklahoma a jolt of energy and the team went on to make their next five of seven shots.
It was evident that the Sooners had prepared to face Smith, but Walker Kessler proved be a bigger challenge than anticipated. He finished with nine rebounds, four blocks and 21 points from nine-of-11 shooting.
Yet Gibson put the skates on Kessler leaving him motionless in the paint. Gibson finessed a driving layup and diminished Auburn’s lead to just one possession. Gibson scored 14 points on five-of-11 shooting.
“Mo’s always a huge weapon for us,” Moser said,”he’s key to what we do there’s no question about it.”
The Sooners were back in the game, it was looking like the team could come back and quench the War Eagles 16 game winning streak.
“Through all the ebbs and flows, through everything, it’s (only three),” Moser said.
With Oklahoma only down by three, Jaylin Williams chucked up a perimeter shot attempting to extend Auburn’s lead to six.
Williams missed, but Auburn snatched the defensive rebound and Dylan Cardwell grabbed the offensive rebound. Preparing to shoot a putback Cardwell jumped but was fouled by Tanner Groves on his way up.
Making both his free throw attempts, Cardwell gave the War Eagles a five point cushion.
Oklahoma was given the opportunity to cut down the lead keep the game close. Once the ball was inbounded to Bijan Cortes, the moment seemed too big. Cortes served a poor pass which Kessler collected. Auburn converted another second chance opportunity, building their lead to seven in a mere 52 seconds.
“We had a couple of turnovers you know that were pretty big,” Goldwire said.
Although Oklahoma was getting bolstered by the boards, Auburn out rebounded the Sooners 41 to 29. This awarded the War Eagles 17 second chance points.
“We got to rebound better. I thought they really started the game and hurt us bad on the glass,” Moser said,”but then we didn’t settle in the last eight minutes.”
This stretch truly deflated the Sooners as they did not make a field goal for the next four minutes. Goldwire finally forged through the paint to score a much needed layup for Oklahoma. He led the Sooners with 19 points, six-of-ten shooting and four assists.
“It felt good to have a good game in that environment,” Goldwire said.
The Sooners were down 67-54 under seven minutes left.
Yet all the fight and fire from this tough Oklahoma team was depleted. The deficit was glaringly too big, and it never broke into single digits again.
Moser said,”We had five unacceptable turnovers away from the bench against the press. Unacceptable.”
Once Zep Jasper aggressively attacked the paint, finished a layup and was fouled by Elijah Harkless. This play caused the arena to erupt in a frenzy. Jasper completed the traditional three-point play giving Auburn a 15 point lead, this was the final dagger in the Sooner wagon.
The War Eagles won another battle to continue their winning streak to 17, beating Oklahoma 86-68.
Moser said,” We just (weren’t) smart. Not smart losses all the time against a really good team.”
Graced with the opportunity for short-term memory, the Sooners face the Horned Frogs on Monday back in Norman.
“We all got a job to do here the next 24 hours and your job is come with a an edge, a burn in your belly that we lost this game. We lost the game of TCU there,” Moser said. “We all got to come together and do our job.”