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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU falls to No. 9 Arkansas, 88-78

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The Arkansas pressure and athleticism were too much for OU in the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners started hot in Tulsa, but the pressure, size and athleticism of the Arkansas Razorbacks was too much in an 88-78 defeat.

In spite of the loss, there were some encouraging signs for this team moving forward, most notably the emergence of freshman guard Milos Uzan. In a game filled with highly-touted prospects on the other side, the stage never felt too big for the Las Vegas native, who ended the game with 15 points and five assists on 7-11 shooting. Grant Sherfield also continued his stellar run of form with 23 points on 8-14 shooting. Together, Sherfield and Uzan look to form one of the more formidable backcourt duos in the Big 12 this season.

Oklahoma jumped out to a 21-12 advantage eight minutes into the game, and they were able to sustain a lead for the majority of the half thanks to red-hot shooting. However, leading 32-27 with 4:52 remaining in the first half, Sherfield was forced to the bench with his second foul. This would mark the end of OU’s momentum, as Arkansas finished the half with a 16-8 run to push it to a 43-40 advantage.

In the second half, Arkansas’ pressure started to get to OU, resulting in costly turnovers. By the 8:38 mark, the Hogs were able to stretch it to a 16-point advantage before the Sooners eventually steadied. OU brought the deficit down to 9 with 4:47 remaining but never got any closer.

The good news — few teams are built like the Hogs, and even the Big 12’s most physical teams won’t match the athleticism of the team OU faced today. The Sooners managed to put together a respectable showing in spite of a large talent discrepancy, which is a decent sign for grind to come.

OU’s 12/20 matchup with Florida in Charlotte will be a nice gauge for where this team stands entering Big 12 play, but as of right now, this still looks like an NCAA Tournament team to me. Having an offensive alpha like Sherfield is crucial, and Sam Godwin has been a godsend. As far as the latter is concerned, there are going to be times in which Godwin will be a better fit on the floor than Tanner Groves, so being able to have that flexibility will be beneficial.

Next up for the Sooners is Central Arkansas, who comes to Norman next Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.