While it may have been a slow start for Oklahoma, its how you finish the game that counts. The Sooners committed four turnovers in the first five minutes and missed six of seven shots. But Oklahoma stepped up its defensive pressure in the first half's final nine minutes and went on to an 85-51 win over Louisiana-Monroe to open the 2012-13 season.
OU's Steven Pledger
"For an opener I thought there were stretches of a lot of good things and certainly a lot of things we need to continue working on,” said Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger. “I thought we took a lot better care of the ball today. We didn't have as many turnovers and we rebounded the ball; those are two areas where we did much better than we performed in the two exhibition games. They continue to improve a little bit defensively in practice every day. We have a ways to go in all of these areas but the good thing about these guys is it is important to them. We have about a week of practice here now in preparation for Friday."
After applying full-court pressure towards the middle of the first half and trapping near half court. The Sooners forced nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes and 14 for the game to take a 38-22 lead to the locker room at halftime.
"We didn't open it up really sharp,” said Kruger. “I thought we were on our heels defensively; we were kind of watching as opposed to dictating. We did create some opportunities with our steals and traps which seemed to get us jump-started a little bit after getting off to a slow start."
Steven Pledger led the Sooners with 15 points shooting five of nine from three point range.
"Steve is an excellent shooter,” said Kruger. “He is always going to make shots. It was good to see him get some down tonight and really it is good to see him get more opportunities."
Oklahoma converted 9 of 23 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and dominated the glass, outrebounding the Warhawks 49-30.
On the night the Sooners had the opportunity to play 12 of 14 players on the roster, including the freshman guard trio of Buddy Hield, Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins. The three combined for 70 minutes, 21 points and shot a combined 8 of 20 from the floor.
"It will be a continuous experiment to see who is playing their minutes well and who is getting the job done,” said Kruger. “We just have to keep grooving defensively and keep taking care of the basketball, moving the ball and making good plays for each other. We are not set on anything by any means because players will determine that and dictate that as we get on deeper in conference and non-conference play."
Up next for the Sooners is a trip to Arlington, Texas this coming Friday night to take on The University of Texas at Arlington.