Twice in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament opener against North Dakota State, Oklahoma’s offense went dormant.
The Sooners went scoreless in the final 3:37 of the first half, and then went nearly nine minutes without a field goal in the second half. OU still forced overtime before eventually falling 80-75 to the Bison.
“We were impatient a bit,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “That’s kind of been our M.O. all year. We’ve got to grow and we’ve got to mature, and we’ve got to play better basketball.”
The first-half drought especially hurt Oklahoma because of lapses on the defensive end at the same time.
North Dakota State scored the final 11 points of the half to take an eight-point lead into halftime.
“Too many offensive possessions where we didn’t get shots that we wanted to get,” Kruger said. “And obviously too many straight-line drives on the other end.”
HORNBEAK PRAISES SENIORS
Oklahoma loses just two seniors off this year’s team, but both were hugely valuable.
Cam Clark was the Sooners’ leading scorer against North Dakota State. He was the anchor of the offense early in the season as Oklahoma’s younger players adjusted to their roles.
Tyler Neal came off the bench to give the Sooners a versatile option at several spots and was one of the best 3-point shooters on the team.
“They worked their tails off this whole year,” sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak said. “They can easily get most-improved in the conference, MVP, Sixth-Man of the Year. I give it to both of them.