Anatomy of a W

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This bunch of Sooners has been impossible to figure out during the season. One minute they’re on top of the world — running up and down the court like gazelles, raining 3’s on everyone — and the next minute they’re banging more iron than a steel mill. Two months ago they’re #4 in the country and being pegged as a #1 or #2 seed and here we sit with the tournament about to really begin and they’re the most controversial selection to the field. What the hell happened?

I wanted to compare the numbers from the victories to the losses to see just what the differences are. What do the Sooners do when they win and what don’t they do when they lose (or vice-versa)? I think we all know they’re not shooting the ball as well now as they did early in the season and their defense, not very good to begin with, has gotten progressively worse. Is that what the numbers tell us?

To make this comparison, I wanted to use only the numbers against top-100 teams and Big 12 opponents. How the team played against Omaha and North Texas isn’t very useful. So below there’s a table of lots of (hopefully) relevant data from the wins and from the losses with the hope that it can shine some light on what the hell’s gone wrong this season.

First, for the numbers in Sooner wins:

Opp Poss FG% 3 pt % FT’s OR DR Asts Blks TO’s Opp FG% Opp 3 pt % OR TO’s
Oregon 81 43 26 44 11 24 13 5 16 42 31 12 17
USC 74 45 48 16 11 20 15 8 10 45 37 11 17
Wich St 81 40 33 26 8 30 15 8 10 43 25 8 10
NW’ern 74 61 61 27 6 24 22 2 13 45 29 12 13
TCU 77 47 48 31 11 28 19 10 12 41 42 16 8
Ok St 86 55 56 34 4 34 24 2 12 44 32 13 11
Tech 77 41 32 21 4 30 13 10 10 37 24 10 13
TCU 84 49 58 22 12 25 14 7 16 49 36 11 13
Kansas 74 49 39 25 8 28 14 1 16 45 31 14 11
Baylor 79 54 55 32 5 27 11 7 13 47 52 8 6
KS St 73 53 50 25 6 26 13 4 13 45 19 10 9
Iowa St 78 40 24 20 10 32 11 4 5 32 13 13 14
mean 78 48 44 27 8 27 15 6 12 43 31 12 12

And now for the Sooner losses:

Opp Poss FG% 3 pt % FT’s OR DR Asts Blks TO’s Opp FG% Opp 3 pt % OR TO’s
Ark 87 46 28 20 5 26 15 4 19 43 50 9 16
WVU 78 43 35 28 9 25 9 1 17 46 27 10 11
KSU 72 42 28 13 16 20 13 3 20 57 53 6 10
Ok St 80 34 29 17 22 30 11 8 14 40 30 17 11
Bama 73 41 30 9 13 23 12 3 12 56 42 7 17
Texas 76 52 14 11 8 27 16 1 17 46 36 5 13
WVU 71 45 38 19 7 24 8 7 15 42 36 14 9
Iowa St 76 43 22 22 9 27 15 4 16 46 41 13 10
Tech 74 46 32 25 7 23 9 4 14 48 52 9 9
Texas 74 31 27 22 8 23 10 1 7 55 38 4 14
Kansas 71 46 26 13 8 14 12 2 11 61 55 10 10
Baylor 78 37 23 21 10 16 13 2 17 51 28 11 15
Ok St 69 38 33 12 5 21 10 4 12 39 42 14 16
mean 74 42 28 18 10 23 12 3 14 49 40 10 12

Ok, now, some takeaways…

  1. The Sooners play better when they play faster. Notice that they have 4 more possessions per game in their wins than in their losses.
  2. The Sooners do better when they get to the free throw line more often. Ok, this is probably true for nearly every team but the Sooners averaged about 4.5 more free throws taken in their wins than in their losses. They can’t just stand at the 3 point line and jack 3’s. They must get the ball to the rim.
  3. The Sooners must take care of the ball. Again, it’s not a surprise that their offense works more efficiently and they’re more likely to win when they have fewer turnovers. Remember, though, that they averaged 2 fewer turnovers in 4 MORE possessions per game in their wins than their losses. That means an additional 6 opportunities to score per game.
  4. The Sooners are more likely to win when they shoot better. Duh!
  5. The Sooners are more likely to lose when their opponent shoots better. Again, duh! They need to make shots and do what they can to prevent their opponent from making shots. Some of this is about luck, of course. They can play good defense but sometimes the other teams’ shots are just going to fall and sometimes players’ shots won’t fall even if they’re wide open.

I’m not sure there’s a lot that can be gained from the data on rebounds and assists. We’re going to have more assists when our shots are falling, obviously, and fewer offensive boards when they’re going in. It’s clear though that OU — in order to win some games in the tournament and finish out their schedule successfully — needs to push the tempo, get to the free throw line, take care of the ball, defend as well as possible and make shots. Some of that is about tactics and some is just luck. Hopefully both will be on OUr side tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

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