“It was a good opportunity to play against someone else,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “As you might expect in the first opportunity like that, there were a lot of things we liked and a lot of things we need to work on still.”
Oklahoma led by only nine points at halftime and couldn’t extend its advantage until the Sooners went on a 13-0 run midway through the second half. The Sooners needed just 4:19 to turn a six-point lead into a 19-point edge that never fell below 16 the rest of the game.
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s victory:
Take 1: Oklahoma will rely heavily on Hield for points this season
It was clearly on Hield to spark Oklahoma offense early against Washburn. He scored 12 of the Sooners first 21 points while the rest of the team went 2-for-11 from the field through the first 12:30 minutes of the game.
Hield was 4-for-5 during that stretch and started the game perfect on his first four shots. “He did a really good job early of getting us off to a good start,” Kruger said of Hield. “The guys moved the ball well, and he had shots in rhythm, jumped up and knocked them down. Other times, I thought he was aggressive getting to the rim. … What he did (Friday) was no surprise.”
Hield 4-for-7 in the first half but had almost as many field goals as the rest of the roster, which hit just five shots in the first 20 minutes.
Take 2: Khadeem Lattin ready to help now but still needs to get bigger.
In his first game against a live opponent, Lattin played just about as well as any freshman could hope. Lattin finished with a game-high 11 rebounds in 19 minutes. He also went 3-for-5, leading all three big men with six points.
He scored his first career basket on a fast-break dunk.
“It was cool,” Lattin said. “I’ll remember that forever. Jordan just found me in the right spot, and I let nature take its course, I guess. It was great. It took me to a whole ’nother world.” Lattin showed great athleticism and a willingness to compete, even once accidentally battling teammate Ryan Spangler for a rebound.
“Not only did he rebound the ball well, but he got rid of the ball quickly on the outlet pass and made the right play,” Kruger said. “He gave us good energy on the defensive boards. … It’ll be fun to watch him get better each week.”
Still, it wouldn’t hurt Lattin to put on a few more pounds.
By the time he’s a senior, he’ll likely be 15 to 20 pounds heavier. The faster he does that this year for Oklahoma the better, especially if forward TaShawn Thomas isn’t eligible.
Take 3: Sooners still looking at three-pointer first.
Oklahoma’s big glaring weakness, aside from occasionally defensive letdowns against its Division II opponent, was an inability to find baskets inside. The Sooners’ drive-and-dish attack worked, but they were leaning on the outside shot for much of the game.
Despite being physically larger than Washburn, Oklahoma attempted 31 three-pointers. They attempted 32 shots from inside the arc.
Oklahoma attempted more three-pointers in the first half (15) than shots inside the arc (14). Spangler, who scored his lone basket with less than six minutes to play, had no field goal attempts in the first half, and Oklahoma’s big men scored only four points in the first 24 minutes. D.J. Bennett didn’t attempt a shot, and Lattin had six points – all of which came on a fast break or a put-back.