Not for long though: Oklahoma got to its days off pretty quickly with a 96-83 victory. Afterwards, Kruger was asked what his team could have done better in a game, which featured 13 different scores and saw Oklahoma out-rebound Incarnate Word by 27.
All Kruger really said was improving on the “idea of doing all the little things better.”
“We’ve been talking the last few days about better focus on each possession, offense or defense, regardless score,” Kruger said. “I thought the older guys did a really good job of getting them off to a good start in that area.”
No. 7 Oklahoma (3-0), which plays Wisconsin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in another early-season test, staked itself to a 10-point lead in the first three minutes before leading by 31 points at the halftime.
Just eight minutes into the second half, Oklahoma was still shooting 64.4 percent from the field – a number that finished at 59.3 after many of the starters played sparingly in the second half.
The Sooners held Incarnate Word to just 33.8 percent from the field.
“It’s not a part of picking a part a game, it’s just the next step in getting better,” Kruger said. “These guys understand it’s a long process. We’ve got a ways to go. They’ll keep working at it, I know.”
The focus was there all game.
Buddy Hield went 7-for-12 from the field and continues to be ultra-efficient, scoring a game-high 22 points in just 22 minutes. Ryan Spangler posted his 19th career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, nearly out-rebounding Incarnate Word in the first half.
Even 7-foot reserve center Akolda Manyang, who practiced last week for the first time after being off the court for almost four months, got into the action. He scored the first points of his Oklahoma career during a seven-point run that he put up on his own.
“He’ll keep making progress,” Kruger said. “He’s going to have a better understanding all the time of what he has to do to get results. He’ll take that to practice. The older guys will help him continue to make that progress.”
Ahead by 40 points at the under-8 media timeout, Oklahoma had showed enough focus. The starters were already out of the game for good and soon after the walk-ons left the bench.
It was time to focus on Thanksgiving and the next opponent, a team that defeated Oklahoma at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament and the defending national runner-up.
“It’ll motivate our guys, just like it’ll motivate Wisconsin’s guys,” Kruger said. “It’ll be a big-time challenge.”