OU playing near-perfect defense

Sooners putting together best defensive stretch of the season during 3-game win streak

Oklahoma had put up some pretty good defensive performances this season.

In back-to-back games just before the new year, the Sooners allowed just 94 points before the start of the conference season. Texas scored just 49 points in the second game of the Big 12 season – a game played on the road the in Erwin Center.

They’ve put together one of the best defenses in the country, after being one of the top offenses last season. Oklahoma might not be playing any better than they are right now, in the middle of a three-game stretch and allowing just 48 points per game – including the best defensive performance in Big 12 history, just 36 points to Texas Tech.

“The awareness of the guys of the significance of getting stops: In preparation, guys have been really sharp in practice,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Good awareness in the half-court.”

Oklahoma has a top-10 field goal percentage defense in the nation: Ranked ninth overall at 37.3 percent but still only third in the Big 12.

The Sooners 3-point percentage defense is just as good. At 29 percent, it ranks 16th in the country and tops in the Big 12.

They rank in the top 10 in defensive efficiency and sixth in the country in floor percentage at 41 percent – a ratio of possessions to scoring possessions (whether it be one point or three points). Basically, Oklahoma allows no points on 59 percent of its defensive possessions. Three of the five teams ranked higher than Oklahoma are national championship contenders Kentucky, Virginia and Louisville.

“I think the focus of the group,” Kruger said. “We’re growing and maturing with each experience.”

No. 21 Oklahoma is doing it all in the toughest conference in the country.

As a result, the Sooners have to play defense in many different ways. Against West Virginia, offense helped the defense by not turning the ball over, but Oklahoma still scored 27 points off of the Mountaineers’ 15 turnovers – taking advantage when they could.

Against Oklahoma State, the Sooners again scored off turnovers, posting 24 in the game. They held the Cowboys to just five assists, forcing Oklahoma State into an individual-based offense.

The domination of Texas Tech was near-perfection. The Red Raiders shots just 21.2 percent – the lowest mark in 11 years. Oklahoma allowed its fewest points since 2006.

“Most importantly, the guys understand we’ve got to keep doing that,” Kruger said. “You have to keep getting better if you’re gonna have a chance to compete.”

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