The similarities Oklahoma basketball is going through right now is something coach Lon Kruger wants to change.
In a 99-94 overtime loss to Memphis on Saturday afternoon, it felt like we had seen this script before in a defeat at the hands of Northern Iowa last month.
OU earns nice early lead. Sees second-half comeback by opposing team. Hits crazy 3-pointer to force overtime but can’t get it done in the extra session.
This time around it was Jordan Woodard banking a 3-pointer with .6 seconds left to knot the score 84-84 and send Lloyd Noble Center into a frenzy.
Woodard finished with a team-high 22 points, but the Sooners didn’t have enough offensive firepower and couldn’t catch a break from Memphis at the free throw line.
"Good ballgame," Kruger said. "Start to finish, good enthusiasm, good effort out of both squads. I thought we made a lot of good plays, a lot of good plays. We couldn’t get stops defensively there in the second half. Too many breakdowns when we needed to maintain a margin. And of course, they did a great job of finishing the game off at the line. We’ll learn. We’ll keep working at it. We’ll keep getting better. Guys have a ways to go, running out of time until Big 12 play. Getting better each week, have to keep working at it."
OU kept waiting for the Tigers to miss from the charity stripe. It’s still waiting. Memphis hit 28-of-32 attempts to force OU to keep playing from behind in the final minute of regulation and throughout overtime.
The Sooners are now 6-4, which is the bad thing. If there’s any solace in losing two games in overtime and one by three points, maybe it’s something for Kruger and company to look forward to moving on.
There were good signs. Freshman Jordan Shepherd, in his first start, scored 18 points and was not afraid to want the ball down the stretch.
Forward Jamuni McNeace played the best game of his career with OU, scoring a career-high 13 points and tying his career high with nine rebounds.
Christian James notched 15 points coming off the bench. But just like in the loss to Northern Iowa, James fouled out in regulation Saturday.
OU has another chance to try to make an out of conference impression Wednesday playing against Auburn on Wednesday night in Uncasville, Conn.