Familiar Issue Arises In Oklahoma’s Season Opening Loss To Sam Houston

The Sooners may have been doomed by a last-second shot on Monday night but a glaring issue had already appeared long before then. OU squandered a 43-29 second half lead that culminated with Lamar Wilkerson’s 3-pointer with under four seconds left to give the Bearkats the go ahead lead and the final score of 52-51. It was a remarkable feat for a team that had been held scoreless during a five-minute stretch of the second half and held to just ten total point over the first 11 minutes of the second half. Fortunately for Sam Houston, the Sooners still seem to have a glaring issue that cost them plenty of opportunities during the 2021-22 season.

The Bearkat bench bench doubled Oklahoma’s bench production. Sure, there are other issues that you can look to in a 1-point loss. The Sooners were just 44% from the free throw line, they turned the ball over twelve times, shot less than 33% from the floor and committed 15 fouls. That said, the issue here is bench scoring. OU didn’t have it on Monday night!

A combined five player came off the bench for the Sooners against Sam Houston, for a total of 58 minutes of playing time, and they produced a combined 14 points and committed seven turnovers. OU’s most productive bench player was guard Joe Bamisile who scored six points in twelve minutes. Milos Uzan led the bench in minutes played (20) but yielded just yielded just four points while also committing four turnovers and committing three fouls.

For perspective, Sam Houston’s bench produced a total of 28 points and was led by Wilkerson’s 17 points. Yup, the guy who buried the Sooners in the season opener was a bench player who not only produced the dagger that completed the Bearkat comeback but he also single-handedly outscored Oklahoma’s entire bench.

To be fair, producing points wasn’t just an issue for Oklahoma’s bench. Starting guard CJ Noland and forward Jalen Hill had their issues as well. Nolan logged just one point in an 0-5 effort from the floor and Hill was blanked on the night after an 0-7 performance from the floor. In 32 minutes of playing time (tied for the team high) Hill’s stat line read 1 rebound, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 foul, 0 points. That’s not good…that’s not good at all.

Now for the good news. It was the season opener. There’s time to improve. There will be nights when the shots do fall and those will yield better results…but the bench has to be productive or it’s going to be a long and painful trek through the Big 12 portion of the schedule.

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