NORMAN — Some say numbers never lie.
But in the case of Oklahoma guard Gioya Carter's performance in Sunday's 66-35 win over Samford, they certainly do.
The freshman from Carl Albert had eight points, one assist, and nine turnovers in 33 minutes before fouling out against the Bulldogs.
The ugly stat line doesn't show how Carter continually broke down the defense, had some unlucky missed layups at the rim, or that a handful of her turnovers came from passes that were so good teammates weren't expecting them.
While OU coach Sherri Coale admits nine turnovers won't be acceptable when the Sooners open conference play at Texas Tech at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, she had high praise for Carter's play.
“I love the things that Gioya Carter is doing with the basketball,” Coale said. “I can live with that one assist and nine turnovers. I think her playing 33 minutes was significant. I made her play through (foul trouble). She handled herself pretty well.
“I told her when she came out, I would 10 times rather you end up with nine turnovers than stand around on the perimeter and negate all the gifts that you have.”
After coming off the bench to start the season, Carter's maturation process has been accelerated. She's started eight of the last nine games for the No. 25-ranked Sooners.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now,” Carter said. “Coming in, I didn't know how to handle the speed. It was totally different. I was faster than everyone in high school and I really didn't have to work as hard in games. But now I understand I have to run all the time, and I didn't really understand that when I first came in.”
As the game continues to slow down for Carter, her production is likely to increase.
“She is risk or reward right now,” Coale said. “Part of her problem when she puts the ball on the floor is that she's just so good and so fast that she can't keep up with herself sometimes. The other part of it is the people around her can't always keep up with it either. That's a two-way growing street. We all have to get better with that.”
If Carter can continue to develop as another offensive weapon alongside senior guards Aaryn Ellenberg, Morgan Hook, and Sharane Campbell this season — the Sooners backcourt could emerge as one of the best in the country.
“I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing,” Carter said. “If it's working, it's working. If it's not, I'll adjust and do whatever I can to help the team.”