OU basketball: Who said the Sooners don’t play defense?

MORGANTOWN, WV - JANUARY 06: Jevon Carter /

The men’s OU basketball season began with two consecutive 108-point games, and the Sooners haven’t let up on the gas pedal much since then.

The Sooners identity in college basketball this season is up-tempo, high-scoring and led by a true freshman who may just be the best player in the country this season. Trae Young is certainly the one getting most of the headlines one week into the new year and a month and a half into the college season.

Young leads all college scorers, averaging 29.2 points per game through 15 games. Until this past week, the Sooners were the highest-scoring team in the country, but they have surrendered the top spot to Duke after two games scoring in the mid-70s. They are presently averaging 93.1 (Duke is 93.8).

When a team is as prolific as Oklahoma has been this season on the offensive end, it generally is much less proficient on the defensive end. Case in point, while the Sooners are putting up over 90 points a game and rank in the top two in Division I in scoring offense, they allow 80.1 points a game, which ranks 324th in the nation.

The OU defensive effort is not accurately reflected, though, in the points-allowed number alone. When the game speeds up, which is the style with which the Sooners like to play, especially, with Young quarterbacking the offense at the point guard position, it leads to more possessions, more shot attempts and typically more points for both sides.

In the win Tuesday night over the 8th-ranked Red Raiders of Texas Tech, it was the defensive effort as much as the offense that enabled the Sooners to garner the victory. Head coach Lon Kruger knows that counting on outscoring your opponent in a league as competitive and balanced as the Big 12 this year will not get it done. You have to be smart and focused on the defensive end as well.

Texas Tech shot just 37.3 percent on 25 of 67 field goal attempts and scored 65 points, its lowest point total of the season and 15 points below its season scoring average. Part of that can be attributed to a poor shooting night, but the Oklahoma defense had a big say in it also.

Khadeem Lattin had a season-high seven blocks and the Sooners forced 15 Red Raider turnovers, all creating offense out of defense.

"“Both teams had pretty good focus defensively, didn’t given them many easy looks” said Kruger in his postgame interview session. “We did a pretty good job of staying honed in on shooters and making them earn their points.“You’ve got to (be able) win these (kind of) games, too. The guys are understanding that more and more. We’re making progress every day in practice between games because we’ve got to be able to get stops.”"

Oklahoma hosts another ranked opponent on Saturday, when No. 16 TCU ventures across the Red River for a rematch of a game two weekends ago, won by the Sooners 90-89.