OU more balanced than ever

Sooners have weapons all over the court this season

Last year, if Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield had gone cold from the field it would have spelled L-O-S-S for the Sooners.

When he did Saturday against Tulsa, nothing really changed. Nobody seemed to care or worry.

Transfer forward TaShawn Thomas picked up the slack inside, and Isaiah Cousins continued his surge as Oklahoma’s most improved guard – potentially its best in the early season.

No longer is Oklahoma reliant on one player. The Sooners have plenty of ways to win now.

“It makes us very difficult to handle and makes us a tough team to play against,” Cousins said. “We put pressure on the other team and just keep attacking.”

Hield is still the best pure scorer on the team – averaging a squad-best 16 points per game. There are other options now. Cousins’ has become far more efficient. He’s shooting 47.6 percent this season.

Thomas gives Oklahoma an inside attack, and despite scoring fewer than 10 points in five of the Sooners’ first seven games, he’s currently averaging double figures after a season-high 25 points against the Golden Hurricane.

Point guard Jordan Woodard shook off his early-season turnover issues and had just one turnover to nine assists this weekend after committing 11 combined turnovers in the previous three games.

“Coach really wanted me to focus on taking care of the ball and making sure guys are getting involved,” Woodard said. “We got up and down a little bit in the first half and executed on offense. Teammates hit shots and there was a good flow taking care of the ball today.”

The reason for his drop in turnovers might be because of a weak Tulsa squad, but it also has to do with having to doing less.

Even Ryan Spangler is contributing offensively, stretching the defense with his new arsenal of 3-point shots – taking pressure off Thomas inside and shooting 60 percent from behind the arc.

No. 15 Oklahoma (6-2) still isn’t at its best, yet. That’ll come when Hield starts to knock down shots. He has shown sparks of it after going perfect in the season opener and pulling the Sooners out of a dogfight with 10 straight points against Butler late in the second half.

Hield is shooting 36.4 percent, better than only Woodard’s 27.1 percent among starters. Woodard isn’t counted on to score though, and Hield is.

“Buddy’s going to be fine,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said of Buddy Hield’s early shooting slump. “Buddy’s going to work at it and he’s going to stay in the gym. If that’s our biggest problem, Buddy not making shots, we’ll feel pretty good about that because we know he’s going to make shots, going to make plays, so he’s got to keep aggressive for us.”

He has his teammates to rely on for now.


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