Oklahoma showed its' peak potential, and its' devastating lows in this game. Although Oklahoma was able to dominate most of the game, the Panthers were able to expose the Sooners' weakness in finding a mismatch. The Sooners played a very good Panther team, but gave this one away in the second half. In case you missed this one, here is a summary of what occurred into tonight's game:
Both sides came ready to play this game at the start of this one. The Sooners were not being allowed to drive to the basket like they were in past games, and UNI was not given the same amount of open 3-pointers as they are used to. Oklahoma had a rough start for shooting, going 1-9 from the field. The first points for the Sooners came off of a Christian James jump shot from the top of the key. UNI's first four points came from in the paint.
The second unit for Oklahoma introduced more movement on the offensive side, and were able to defend Northern Iowa pretty well. However, Northern Iowa sagging off their defenders and hovering in the lane was frustrating OU from penetrating and finishing at the bucket. However, a Rashard Odomes layup and Christian James backdoor cut leading to a foul helped the Sooners get to the basket. A strong start from James is a welcoming sign for the Sooners. At the 11:10 mark, James had 6 of the 10 points and was shooting 2-3 from the floor. The Sooners were not done yet.
The Sooners began to crack down on the potent Northern Iowa offense even more, making them shoot 3-15 from the field and 1-9 from the 3-point line by the 7:50 mark. Coming into the game, Northern Iowa was averaging 13 3-pointers a game. OU, going on a 14-0 run, pushed their lead to 18-7. Some of the key plays came from a James and-one layup, Matt Freeman knocking down a deep three from the top of the key and Freeman hitting C.J. Cole for a short floating shot.
Despite Northern Iowa defending the paint well to begin the game, knocking down the outside shot loosened up the Panther defense allowing OU more room to work with. Kameron McGusty sank a three 3-pointer from a cross-court pass by Kristian Doolittle at the 4:46 mark to give the Sooners a 25-13 lead. Oklahoma also was owning the rebound advantage, 20-14. The Sooners pushed their run to 21-6. Doolittle put together a little highlight reel when he bullied his way to the basket making a layup, and then the next play anticipating a pass he got the steal and dunk on the other end gave OU a 16-point lead.
Lon and his crew began to slow things down to end the half, which resulted in the Sooners not being as dynamic as they are when they are flying around the court. Jordan Shepard had a nice drive, shot fake and pass to Jamuni McNeace resulting in a dunk, but OU gave up a three in transition to let the Panthers cut the lead to 13 at half.
Overall, OU put together a great first half shooting 43 percent from the field, owning the rebound advantage 23-15 and had eight more bench points than Northern Iowa. The Sooners had 3 more turnovers than the Panthers (9), however they had two more points off of turnovers than Northern Iowa (7). James (9 points and 3 rebounds) and Odomes (6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists) lead the Sooners at the half. OU shockingly had a 13-point lead at half, considering that two of their key players had a poor half. Jordan Woodard did not score, but managed to grab three rebounds and dish one assist. Khadeem Lattin had two fouls that were not smart on his behalf, which lead to him not scoring (0-1 from the field) and grabbing one rebound in 6 minutes. This is the second game in a row McNeace has been called on to fill in for Lattin due to fouls, and he contributed once again. He scored two points , grabbed three rebounds and was a factor on the defensive end altering shots. Freeman was able to knock down another three pointer, but also showcased some of his passing skills with three points, two rebounds and two assists in nine minutes.
Oklahoma was able to "play their game" for most of the half. At first Northern Iowa maintained the Sooners by keeping them in front of them on the defensive end, but eventually OU figured out how to breakdown this stingy defense. This was perhaps the best half for the Sooners so far this season, given that Northern Iowa is a much better opponent than what OU has faced so far. However, the second portion of the second half was the worst performance the Sooners have had all season.
OU's offense did not come out stagnant to begin the second half. In fact, Lattin and Woodard would be able to return to normal form early in the second half. Lattin got his first points at the line off of nice passing from Doolittle out of a double-team to Odomes, and then Odomes hitting Lattin over the top. Lattin would soon swat a dunk attempt on the other end of the floor. Woodard did not want to miss out on the action. He was able to knock down a couple of three pointers after nice ball movement, and one of his 3-pointers gave Oklahoma an 18-point lead.
Something foreign to Sooner fans that many will learn to love this year: OU can play defense. The team showcased this to begin this second half. Northern Iowa was having issues trying to dribble around Oklahoma's athletic bunch, and the Sooners were able to force some turnovers out of trapping in the short corner. Unfortunately, this defensive effort would not be consistent throughout the second half.
Northern Iowa showed a bit of a spark after knocking down two 3-pointers and cutting the Sooners' lead to 12 points. However, Lattin soon would extinguish this spark with an acrobatic, put-back and-one layup, pushing OU's lead back to 15.
Odomes showed some of his potential with a sequence of plays. He was able to tip a pass in transition which halted a Northern Iowa fast break, and then was able to grab a defensive rebound and go the full length of the court for an and-one layup.
Northern Iowa made a late push for a comeback in the second half, forcing four turnovers in five Sooners' possessions and cutting OU's lead to 12. James found himself in foul trouble around the 7 minute-mark, having to go to the bench with four fouls. Klint Carlson, for the Panthers, had a nice and-one dunk with a chance to cut the Sooners' lead to 10, but he was called for a technical after the dunk. Woodard was able to knock down two free throws, and Carlson knocked down a free throw making it 52-40 Sooners.
Carlson made another 3-pointer at the top of the key to cut the lead to nine, and Woodard would turn the ball over the next possession on a travel call. Jordan Ashton for Northern Iowa drilled a 3-pointer, giving UNI a 7-0 run. A Doolittle turnover was soon answered with a Carlson 3-pointer, cutting the OU lead to three points.
Around the 3-minute mark, a scrum on the floor resulted in Northern Iowa's possession and a sweet behind-the-back layup by Carlson making it a one-point game. With about two minutes ago, Northern Iowa knotted up the game with a deep 3-pointer. However, Doolittle came up with a clutch defensive play, anticipating the pass making Northern Iowa touch the ball last.
A crucial missed 3-pointer from the top of the key by Woodard gave Carlson another opportunity for a 3-pointer, which he executed and gave the Panthers their first lead since it was 7-6. A pair of UNI free throws gave the Panthers a five-point lead. Lattin answered with two free throws of his own, and OU benefitted from the Panthers traveling giving the ball back to Oklahoma with 17.1 seconds left.
Doolittle ended the Sooners drought of no field goals made in a stretch of 11 minutes and nine seconds with tying up the game with a step-back 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. This was Doolittle's first 3-pointer attempted of the game.
Jeremy Morgan began the scoring in overtime off of two free throws, but OU responded with a drive by Odomes and kick to Lattin for a layup. After trading possessions back and forth, Carlson once again sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key off the jab-step with about 42 seconds to play to give UNI a 3-point lead. After being down five points, Woodard gave the Sooners some hope with a 3-pointer with 8.8 seconds left to bring the game within two points. However, a pair of Jeremy Morgan free throws sealed the game for the Panthers.
This was a tough loss for OU after being up as much as 18 points in the second half. This loss can be mostly attributed to the Sooners not being able to score a field goal for over half of the second half, and not finding an answer to Carlson's second half performance. Despite going 1-6 from the field with no 3-pointers and only scoring 4 points by halftime, Carlson turned on the jets and went a perfect 5-5 from the field in the second half knocking down three 3-pointers. He finished the game with a career-high 22 points.
Another crucial moment for OU was James fouling out late in the second half, and he was not able to contribute in the overtime period. Oklahoma coughed up the ball 24 times, resulting in 24 points for the Panthers. Woodard and Doolittle lead the Sooners in scoring with 13 points, but Woodard shot 3-16 from the field. Woodard added four rebounds and two assists to his performance, while Doolittle grabbed five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Lattin had 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Odomes contributed with 11 points, seven rebounds three assists and two steals. James finished the game with nine points seven rebounds and two assists.
This is the first loss for the Sooners this season, and will push the team to 2-1. Oklahoma's next game will be on Sunday against the Clemson Tigers.