The Sooners played hard and played pretty well overall but lost 83-78 in overtime to Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This isn’t going to be a season-in-review post but I do just want to look back on yesterday’s loss and see to what degree the Sooners were able to do the things they needed to do in order to win.
The first thing we said here that the Sooners needed to do to win was to push the tempo. They were more successful all season long when they played more possessions, averaging 78 possessions in their victories and 74 in their losses. Against the Rams yesterday, they played 77 possessions but that was in a 45-minute, overtime game. The Sooners had success when pushing the tempo, getting several baskets in transition by beating the Rams down the court, but they weren’t able to do that for extended lengths. The 77-possession pace for 45 minutes equates to about 68 in a 40 minute game, which is considerably slower than the Sooners needed. As an example, the Sooners played 84 possession in their OT win against TCU earlier in the season. Grade: C+
The Rams are very good at turning teams over and we said it was important that OU take care of the ball as the Sooners tend to be turnover-prone. The Sooners only had 14 turnovers for the game — pretty good considering we played the extra 5 minutes. Grade: B.
We said the Sooners needed to get to the free throw line more often and the Sooners were able to shoot 24 free throws. Young did this especially well which is important since he was the team’s best free throw shooter but the Sooners were also hurt a little by the fact that the team’s 2 worst free throw shooting regulars (Odomes and McNeace) shot nearly half of the team’s 24 free throws (making just 4). In wins, the team had averaged 27 free throws and, for a 45 minute game, 24 isn’t quite enough but it’s better than the 17 the team averaged in losses. Grade: C+.
We needed to shoot the ball well and we just didn’t, shooting 42% overall and 20% from three. The fact that the team made just 4 of 20 3 point attempts is really the biggest reason the team lost. James, McGusty, Manek, and Odomes combined to shoot 1 for 11 from behind the arc and that’s just not going to get it done. Based on how they’d performed throughout the season, they should have made about 4 of those attempts. Trae Young shot it best but even he just made 3 of his 9 attempts. If the team makes 6 or 7 of those 20 3-pointers, the team probably wins in regulation. Grade: D.
Finally, the team needed to defend well enough to prevent the Rams from shooting well. In that regard, the team did ok. The Sooners defended better than they did for much of the season, holding the Rams to 39% shooting overall and 39% from behind the arc. The fact that the Rams knocked down nearly 40% of their 3’s isn’t great but it’s better than the Sooners did in many of their games. Grade: B-.
The Sooners did a lot of the things they needed to do in order to win the game but, ultimately, the game is about putting the ball in the basket and the Sooners just didn’t do it often enough. The game boiled down to the fact that the Rams shot 11-28 (39%) from 3 point land and the Sooners just shot 4-20 (20%). Those 7 additional 3’s made a huge difference since, if the Sooners had just knocked down a couple more, they probably wouldn’t have had to play overtime at all.
Just put the ball in the basket. It’s simple, but not easy.
Thanks for reading.