The Oklahoma Sooners (4-1) have returned home from Portland with their heads held high after finishing 5th place at the PK80 Invitational.
The Sooners wouldn’t let the first round loss bother them for too long. They showed up the next day looking for redemption, and that’s exactly what they got. The Sooners would get an easy win against the University of Portland Pilots (93-71).
On Sunday, the Sooners would matchup against the University of Oregon (5-2) and came away with a quality win for the résumé. The Ducks were a Final Four participant in last years NCAA tournament. However, this isn’t at all the same Ducks team that finished one game short of a title appearance eight months ago.
The phenom that is Trae Young continues to take the college basketball world by storm. This kid gets better each game played while doing his best Steph Curry impression. Young averaged an impressive 34.6 points a game over Thanksgiving break. He would finish the tournament with a 43 point performance against the Ducks. The Sooners would beat the Ducks 90-80.
Scoring – These Sooners can score some points. They averaged 88.7 points a game at the PK80. They’re averaging 96.4 on the season. Young is the second leading scorer in the nation with 28.2 points a game. As long as Trae Young continues to put up numbers like this, the Sooners will be a tough team to beat. Their offense will only get better as the season goes on. They’ll be even scarier once Sophomore forward Christian Doolittle returns from suspension in January.
Hard Work – The Sooners stay fighting for all 40 minutes. The Sooners were a very young team a season ago, which led to many losses due to second-half struggles. Still, being a young team and all, the Sooners have been able to play quality basketball and finish games. Even in the loss to Arkansas, the Sooners were fighting till the final buzzard.
A Whole Team Effort – Head Coach Lon Kruger has his guys playing some great team basketball in the early season. Young is currently the 4th best passer in the nation with 8.6 dimes a game. The team as a whole is averaging 19.2 assists per game. The Sooners have also been hard to stop on the glass. They average 42.2 rebounds a game. The defense may let up points, but they know how to create turnovers with 8.2 steals a game along with 6.2 blocks a game.
Total Defense – When you look at the defensive stats you may think the Sooners are a legit defensive threat, but there is one stat that begs to differ. The Sooners are giving up 80 points per game. That’s not a trend you want to continue going into the upcoming stretch of ranked teams on the remaining non-conference schedule
Relying on Young – The Sooners total average points can blind you from what could actually be a huge weakness. The weakness is relying on one player to score you enough points, so the others only have to score enough to win. What is this team if Young has a bad game? There will be many bumps in the road for Young throughout the season. The return of Doolittle will help take some pressure off of Young, but that’s not happening for another month. The Sooners will need for someone to step up right now. Young scored his 43 points, but guard Christian James was the next highest scorer with 11.
Perimeter Shooting – The Sooners are the 176th ranked 3-point shooting team. They shot over 28 percent from three in Portland. That’s not a great recipe for success. It may have a lot to do with Young’s green light to shoot any shot he thinks he can make. The Sooners would finish 24-82 from three for the tournament. The best thing going for them is their shooting from inside the three-point line (51%)
Tournament Grade: B+
The Sooners remaining schedule leading up to Big 12 conference play isn’t going to be easy. They return to the court Thursday to play North Texas, but the real test comes when they take on USC, Wichita State, and Northwestern in 3 out of 4 games next month.