STILLWATER — One possession early in the second half represented Oklahoma's frustration. The Sooners grabbed three offensive rebounds. They attempted four shots. And still came up empty.
Continuing a trend that's plagued them their first three conference games, the Sooners shot poorly in a 72-65 loss to Oklahoma State on Monday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Bedlam was no different from losses to No. 9 Missouri or No. 10 Kansas.
It's difficult to win when a team shoots 32.4 percent like the Sooners did against OSU.
“We haven't shot the ball well in any game in conference play,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “We have to get better movement. We have to work harder to get better shots. We have to compete harder against better defenses, do all the little things.”
OU's offensive struggles were so glaring the Cowboys, leading by as many as 17 points, milked the clock, attempting only two field goals the final seven minutes.
“We can get teams frustrated,” said OSU freshman Le'Bryan Nash. “We really identify with our half-court defense. They couldn't get anything going on offense. They were taking bad shots, and we were capitalizing. When we see they're frustrated it makes us happy.”
OU (10-5 overall, 0-3 in league play) is shooting 33.9 percent in league play.
The Sooners are averaging only 58.3 points after averaging close to 80 points much of non-conference play.
“We do get frustrated, but we have to look at ourselves as individuals and a team,” said forward Romero Osby, who recorded his fifth double-double. “We need to go back to the drawing board and just put in more time in the gym.”
The Sooners received a season-high 20 points from Clark Blair and a season-high 18 points from Osby. Neither one was lighting it up, but their teammates shot a combined 29.2 percent.
No player has struggled as much as junior shooting guard Steven Pledger, the Sooners' leading scorer who entered conference play as the Big 12's second-leading scorer.
Against OSU, Pledger was 3-of-13 from the field. He scored a season-low nine points.
In three Big 12 games, Pledger is shooting 28.5 percent after shooting better than 60 percent in OU's first 10 games.
“We've got to work to get him better shots. He has to work a little harder to get some separation,” Kruger said. “It's a combination of executing things better. Good players, good shooters naturally are going to get the attention of defenders. As teams start pointing to him he has to prepare for that.”
Another lengthy drought, similar to a loss Saturday against Kansas, put the Sooners in a hole.
In Monday's Bedlam loss, the Sooners clawed to within 21-20 but the Cowboys answered with a 14-2 run to lead 35-22 at halftime.
“Late in the first half, when they popped a little bit of a margin, we played from behind the rest of the way,” Kruger said. “We just could never get quite over the hump. We have to play harder. We have to get on the floor after loose balls... especially when you're not shooting well.”