OU men's basketball: Sooners hurt again by turnover issue, drop fourth-straight game against Baylor

·4 min read

Jan. 23—Oklahoma men's coach Porter Moser knew his team had a turnover problem before Saturday's game against Baylor.

But even he was surprised by how much of a problem it was against the Bears.

Against Baylor, the Sooners finished the game with a season-high 25 turnovers. Baylor scored 35 points on those turnovers en route to a 65-51 win over the Sooners.

It's been an issue for the Sooners this season, as they came into the game ranked 185th nationally in turnover margin. Sooners' opponents had committed 267 turnovers, while the team itself had committed 262.

But it proved to be a bigger issue than expected against the Bears.

"You are not going to beat Baylor with 25 turnovers," Moser said. "You aren't going to beat a lot of teams with 25 turnovers. We are searching for consistency."

Those turnovers also put the Sooners in a hole to begin the game. At the first media timeout, which came at the 15:52 minute mark of the first half, the Sooners had committed seven turnovers and had only taken two shots. Baylor used those turnovers to take an early 10-0 lead.

Moser described the early turnovers as "stunning."

"It is stunning because I think these guys were ready to play," Moser said. "We had some good practices. ... I know Baylor is one of the elite pressure teams in the country, [but] you can't have seven [turnovers.]

"I think, again, we've talked a lot that it's about finding that line where you understand. All of them just wanted to do it. One [player] took it in one-on-one and got a turnover. Then the next one did it. and the next one. It was almost three straight — the same turnovers almost — by different guys. ... You can't beat anybody at this level, much less the defending national champion, with 25 turnovers."

Despite those turnovers, the Sooners managed to fight back with a 21-7 run to take a four-point lead right before halftime. But the Bears responded with their own 8-0 run to take a 25-21 lead into halftime.

It was the same slow start for the Sooners in the second half, as Baylor pushed its lead to 15 points. But the Sooners kept fighting and eventually cut the lead to three points with seven minutes to go.

But they lost their momentum shortly after. Taylor Groves lost the ball but appeared to take a hit to the head in the process, but no foul was called. Groves voiced his frustration to the referees, who called him for a technical foul.

The Bears made the technical free throws and converted two additional free throws on the same possession, pushing their lead to nine points while halting the Sooners' momentum.

"I thought we played really hard at times," Moser said. "I thought we fought back. We were down 10-0 and fought back to take a lead. We got down [15] in the second half and fought back to cut it to three. There's a lot of fight in this team. There's a lot of fight that I like to see, but we've got to play with better poise with the ball in terms of turnovers."

Umoja Gibson led the Sooners with 13 points, Elijah Harkless added 12 and Groves chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.

The loss marks the Sooners' fourth straight defeat, and it drops their record to 12-7 and 2-5 in Big 12 play.

The road doesn't get any easier. The Sooners travel to take on West Virginia at 7 p.m. on Wednesday before taking on No. 2 Auburn in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.

Moser said it will take a collective effort for the Sooners' to bounce back.

"Well, I think it starts at the top with me," Moser said. "It literally starts at the top with me, for me to come in everyday fighting, clawing, being prepared, being prepared for practice, being prepared to beat West Virginia. So it starts with me, the coaches and then the leadership group, the [starting] five, they've got to come in.

"There's definitely fight in this group, but there's also a big part of getting better and consistent. ... There's going to be no quit in this team, we'll fight. We're searching. We'll find it. We'll get better."

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580