Men's Hoops Midseason Report Card

NORMAN, Okla. — OU has made it to the halfway mark of Big 12 play with an even .500 record of 4-4, and Sooners Illustrated grades out the progress to this point.

Exceeding expectations: A+

Let's face it. No one thought the Sooners would be 4-4 eight games into the conference season, especially after getting swept in the Maui Invitational by Kentucky, Virginia and Division-II Chaminade. But that's just where they are, winners of four out their last five. That turnaround has OU tied for fourth with Texas A&M, well beyond where the experts had them pegged.

Getting out to a fast start: D

OU was smacked around in its first three conference games, getting beat by double figures in all of them. First, Texas A&M stormed into Norman and blew out OU 69-51. Next, Baylor defeated the Sooners 74-61. Following that, the Texas Longhorns led by as much as 21 in a 66-46 dismantling of the Sooners. That 0-3 start had OU in 11th place in the Big 12 with an 8-9 overall record.

Starters' production: A

In all honesty, the Sooners have relied virtually entirely on their starters throughout the first half of conference play. In fact, in the past five games alone, they have accounted for 91 percent of the scoring. They have managed 19 individual double-digit performances, and each starter is averaging at least 12 points per game during that stretch. That has been what the Sooners have had to live on.

Bench play: C-

A large part of this grade deals with the fact that OU just relies so heavily on its starters. OU head coach Jeff Capel doesn't go to his bench a whole lot, but they still haven't been excellent when called upon. In Bedlam, Sooner reserves were 7-of-8 from the field for 17 points, but that performance was a rare exception. Most of the scoring and all-around production, for that matter, has relied solely on the starters.

Protecting the home: A-

Only one loss in 11 games is very commendable. That lone loss came to Texas A&M in the conference season opener. Aside from that, OU is undefeated at Lloyd Noble Center. It has knocked off foes like Texas Tech, Colorado and Baylor thus far on its home court with a game against Texas pending Wednesday.

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