OKLAHOMA CITY – It wasn’t how the Oklahoma basketball team finished that was the problem. As the clock struck zero, the Sooners had found their groove.
But it was too late. Stymied for much of the second half, OU couldn’t get over the hump in a 76-73 loss to Wichita State on Saturday afternoon in front of an energetic crowd at the All-College Classic at Chesapeake Arena.
A three-pointer by Jordan Woodard narrowed the margin to 74-73 with 2 seconds left before Wichita State was able to drain two free throws to close it out.
“Tough ballgame,” head coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought both ball clubs fought like crazy for 40 minutes. We had a couple stretches where we had trouble getting good looks. I thought Wichita State did a terrific job. They’re a really good ball club and Gregg always does a terrific job.
“We’ll learn a lot from this. We’re disappointed in the result. We have to get back to work and take the good and learn from the less than good and keep getting better. We have time to do some of that.”
It was Woodard who tried to put the team on his back down the stretch, finishing with 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Woodard hit four of OU’s six 3-pointers in the game.
A layup by Kristian Doolittle gave OU a 50-49 lead with 11:33 left, and the Sooners would not make another field goal until a Woodard 3-pointer to narrow the margin to 61-57 with 4:59 left.
“It was tough,” guard Christian James said. “I had to start attacking, to get to the free throw line. They played a great game. They’re a hard-nosed team.”
It was a grind for James, who added 15 points and six rebounds for OU. The Sooners fall to 6-3 this season and return to Lloyd Noble Center next Saturday against Memphis.
“We've got to do so much better with each possession, value each possession more, execute things more crisply, defensively communicate better,” Kruger said. “We want to rush it along as quickly as we can but every time we get a chance to practice or play games, it's great for this team.”