Take 3: OU hoops - First Half

Thomas helping, Sooners flaws and living up to expectations

With one half of the season down, there’s no better time than ever to take stock of the Oklahoma men’s basketball team.

Here’s a look at three things we learned during the first 15 games of the regular season:

Oklahoma’s ceiling is accurate

It’s tough to ignore the debacle of a home loss to Kansas State that’s right in front of you, but that will happen in basketball.

Sometimes, things just go cold.

Oklahoma is not without its flaws, but after the game Wildcats’ coach Bruce Weber said Oklahoma was a Sweet 16 team. Politicking, yeah I know, but the Sooners haven’t done anything to make it seem like that isn’t realistic goal.

“They'll be competing for the league,” Weber said. “I was kind of hoping we would catch them after a high at Texas. You can't play any better than that and maybe a little letdown.”

When you’re a Sweet 16 team, you’re also a darkhorse Final 4 team.

Forget about Saturday night and Oklahoma looks in pretty good shape. Forget about the win at Texas, and the Sooners look like they’re in trouble.

It’s too tough to fault a team for one game, which was an emotional fall from the victory against the Longhorns.

“That’s human nature,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We talked all week about are we good enough and mature enough to handle a couple good ball games and take care of business again? It’s a tough lesson, but the message is we weren’t.”

As the second half of the season starts, we’ll find out a lot more about Oklahoma, which plays West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Baylor – four ranked teams, including a home Bedlam matchup.

The Sooners still have major flaws to correct

Jordan Woodard’s shooting and turnover issues.

Isaiah Cousins can still disappear for a night, even though he’s probably the team’s most valuable player thus far.

Oklahoma has to get more from its bench.

“We need to keep stretching our bench a little more and getting more from them,” Kruger said after the loss to Kansas State. “We have to keep working on that.”

Since Big 12 play began, Oklahoma’s bench has scored 23 points. In three games, that’s less than eight points per game.

Just for reference, the Sooners have scored 206 points in conference playing, averaging 68.6 points per game.

That’s the way Oklahoma’s bench is designed. It’s a lot of specialists. D.J. Bennett, a defensive stopper, isn’t going to pour in the points, and Frank Booker, who has been hampered by an injury, is a streaky shooter.

The other two are first-year players – freshman Khadeem Lattin and transfer combo guard Dinjiyl Walker.

Oklahoma is sure glad Thomas is playing

The Sooners might be lost without the big man’s eligibility.

Oklahoma probably still would have made the tournament, but Thomas was the perfect piece for what the Sooners were missing.

He just earned his second straight Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday and has proven to be every bit as valuable as any player on the Sooners’ roster.

“I’m happy to see him doing good and happy to see the fans welcome him too,” Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield said.

Thomas was a key part of the offense before conference play, but now that Oklahoma has started it’s Big 12 slate, Thomas has become vital.

He has scored in double figures in each of the three games after scoring double digits six times in 12 non-conference games. He has also finished with his three highest rebounding totals of the season in the past three games, including back-to-back 11-rebound performances.


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