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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: After Strong Start, Sooners Fall 90-70 in Wisconsin

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OU couldn’t sustain its early momentum and fell to #17 Wisconsin on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After hanging tough with a solid Wisconsin squad for 25 minutes on Saturday, OU saw its advantage quickly evaporate and dropped its first true road game by 20 points, 90-70, to the Badgers in Madison.

OU’s first-half performance had everyone surprised, as the Sooners never trailed in the opening 20 and saw lights-out three point shooting from Jordan Woodard and effective contributions off the bench from Rashard Odomes. Odomes finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-10 shooting.

But the second half proved to be OU’s undoing.

A Nigel Hayes three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 7 minutes to play effectively iced the game, putting Wisconsin up 14 with no signs of life from the OU offense. The Sooners devolved from an efficient, slashing, high-percentage shooting team in the first half into a turnover machine in the second, giving the ball up six times in a matter of minutes and finishing the game with 16 turnovers to Wisconsin’s 5.

The Oklahoma bench was a big part of its first-half success today. Kameron McGusty and Darrion Strong-Moore came up big, with 11 and 7 points, respectively. McGusty and especially Odomes made a point to drive to the rim early and often, resulting in a solid 24 points in the paint. Wisconsin, clearly expecting a deluge of perimeter shots, wasn’t prepared for Odomes and went into halftime trailing 40-37. OU led by as many as 8 in the first frame, and it looked like the Sooners might be able to steal a top-25 win on the road.

But things devolved quickly for the Sooners in the second half. Jordan Woodard, who sank three 3-pointers in the first half and finished it with 9 points, didn’t score again for the rest of the contest. He rode the bench for suspiciously long stretches in the second.

OU also turned the ball over way too many times to keep up with the Wisconsin onslaught. One particularly inexplicable play saw a Sooner turn the ball over after stepping over the line on a simple inbounds pass off a Wisconsin make. OU looked disoriented and, unfortunately, disinterested after the Badgers began to pile on in the second half. OU turned the ball over at least twice for traveling, an inexcusable mistake even if overzealous officials had something to do with it.

Matthew Freeman, who got his second start of the year over Kristian Doolittle because of his hot three-point shooting, was unable to score at all on Saturday. He went 0-4 from the floor, took all his shots from behind the arc and ended up riding the bench for the second half and playing just 13 minutes.

Christian James, unable to get going early, finished with a solid 11 points but put Lon Kruger in a tough spot when he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. Kruger was forced to sit James for most of the half, only re-inserting him after Wisconsin had built a sizeable advantage.

Oklahoma returns to the hardwood on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to face Oral Roberts in Norman.