About the only good thing that came out of the Oklahoma basketball charity scrimmage with the University of Texas-Arlington on Saturday was the financial aid raised for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
That clearly is an oversimplification, but the message is loud and clear. As good as this season’s edition of Sooner men’s basketball looked on its international exhibition tour this summer, it is still very much a work in progress.
OU head coach Lon Kruger has been emphasizing defense in preseason practice sessions, but there wasn’t much of it in a 99-84 loss to the champions last season of the Sun Belt Conference. UTA shot 47 percent from the floor and 48 percent from three-point range as the Mavericks stormed the Sooners on the offensive end and were never really threatened in the game.
“We’ve got to do more with more conviction,” Kruger said to reporters after the game. “We’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to be grittier…Just competing for that result to keep the ball out of the net.
“We’ve got to understand just how much more it takes to do that,” he said.
The money raised from the charity affair is going to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund to assist needy individuals, families and communities impacted by the devastation caused in Houston and southeastern Texas by Hurricane Harvey.
Junior Christian James led the Sooners with 28 points, including three of five from long range. True freshmen Trae Young and Brady Manek contributed 18 and 13 points, respectively. Sun Belt Player of the Year Kevin Harvey led UT-Arlington in scoring with 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
Oklahoma shot just 30 percent in the first half on 9-of-30 shooting. The Sooners heated up in the second half, shooting at a 54 percent clip, but they were never able to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit.
The scrimmage was for an excellent cause, and Young, OU’s top 2017 recruit, said the Sooners will get plenty of good out of it as well, even in a losing effort.
“This is the type of team you want to do an exhibition game with,” he said. “It is a good team we played today. It is a good challenge for us. We are going to go back and study film and work on the things that we did not do well today.
They will have plenty to work in the two weeks before the start of the 2017-18 college basketball season. OU opens the season at home on Nov. 12 against Nebraska-Omaha.
Sooner fans who would like to contribute to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort can still do so by texting BOOMER to 51555.