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Are They Getting Better?

Senior guard Michael Neal set the standard for
the rest of the team to follow Saturday night.

The Sooners rolled past UT-Arlington 89-60 in a dominating performance but the question is, are they getting better or are they just beating up on another small school opponent?

The Sooners dominated on defense (forcing 19 turnovers, 13 steals, and holding the Mavericks to 37% shooting from the floor), on offense (dishing 27 assists and shooting 52% from the floor) and on the boards (OU grabbed 22 more rebounds than UTA, 48-26).

It was the kind of performance that any coach or fan should be proud of but it's also the kind of performance I'm dying to see against a quality opponent. Five of Oklahoma's six wins this season have come against Norfolk State, Liberty, Chaminade, Coppin State and UTA.

Sure it's early in the season and all Division I programs have schedules that read like that. So, how do you measure improvement when you are blowing-out the teams that you are supposed to?

The simple answer is to look at the box score and see how individuals are progressing from game to game. In this instance you'll see that Longar Longar set a career mark for blocked shots (5), Taylor Griffin was a beast on the boards with 13 rebounds and also dished out 7 assists. Four Sooners scored in double figures including freshman Tony Crocker who had a team high 18 points.

The box score shows improvement across the board except in the area of turnovers. OU gave the ball up 16 times on Saturday which is still too many. Turnovers are a nagging problem for the Sooners and you just hope that as the season progresses will get better.

The one thing that didn't show up in the box score and was probably the biggest positive to come out of the game is that it Michael Neal has emerged as the team leader. He set the tone in hustle on both offense and defense and the rest of the team fed off of him.