You could feel it. Slowly but surely, the narrative of Oklahoma’s opening basketball season began to change.
It started as a win with some style. This wasn’t going to happen. Then just win and know you have a lot to work on. No. Survive? Unbelievable, not so.
Sam Houston’s Lamar Wilkerson drained a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to upset the Sooners 52-51 in the season opener for both teams Monday night at the Lloyd Noble Center.
OU was up 46-34 with 5:14 left when it all went down. The Sooners were tentative offensively. Sam Houston made some shots to breathe new life into the game. Grand Sherfield started to crumble and OU had no answers on the night.
“I don’t think we were downhill enough and aggressive enough offensively in the last five minutes,” the coach said. Porter Moser he said. “I think we were willing to be honest with you. I thought we were really tentative and it backfired. They make a few shots and suddenly they become the attacker and you start playing to not lose. Offensively I thought we played a little bit to not lose the line.”
And defensively, he collapsed. OU was shutout for the first 33 minutes of the game, but Sam Houston scored on seven of its last eight possessions.
OU had the ball with 30 seconds left and a 51-49 lead and made a very good play that resulted in Tanner Groves missed a layup and Sam Houston drives to the other end.
The Sooners didn’t respond well in the scramble drill, allowing the Bearkats to push it all the way up the floor and Wilkerson to deliver the heroics.
“My job is to make us better and lead to that,” Moser said. “It’s a big basketball season. This is not going to define us. How we react to it will define us. This will determine how we react to it.
“And I only know one way, that’s to look in the mirror, find out where we’re going to be better, and have everyone do the same and be closer than we’ve ever been. This is not the time to be crushed. Super disappointed. Really, really disappointed, and we have work to do. That’s what we have to do.”
Sam Houston’s defense had the OU offense looking for answers most of the night. The Sooners had zero field goals Jalen Hill, CJ Noland, two starters who combined to shoot 0-for-12 from the field. The Sooners also had 21 turnovers to just six assists.
“I think they took us out of a lot of our stuff and we didn’t get to much of the action,” Tanner Groves said. “They were pushing a lot of our catches and it just made guarding a lot easier. What you all saw tonight is not what we see every day in action. We will look back at the end of the year and consider this loss just one important lesson along the way. I think it will help us.”
Sherfield led by 14 points but were restricted in the final minutes by a cramp problem due to how hard they had to work. Tanner and Jacob Groves Each entered with 11 points. Tanner had nine rebounds and three blocks.
Joe Bamisilexpected to be quite a contributor, played only 13 minutes and had six points.
“We went with some veterans,” Moser said. “We have to learn to trust some guys defensively. We had the lead and it wasn’t so much about scoring, we have to have good defensive possessions. We ran a nice inbounds play for him, full court, got Joe a layup for it coming out of a little timeout.
“I’ve got to keep pushing Joe more because Joe can score, Joe can go downhill. And the more Joe learns defense, the better we’ll be.
OU will look to bounce back against Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Friday afternoon at the LNC. Pine-Bluff nearly upset TCU in Fort Worth on Monday.