Oklahoma basketball: Sooners have a scoring problem


It seems antithetical to say it, but Oklahoma basketball, the nation’s second-highest scoring team, has a scoring problem.

Through 18 games, Oklahoma has had little difficulty scoring plenty of points. The Sooners average 91.6 points a game. That is second only to Duke’s 92.1 points per game.

Led by the country’s leading scorer in NCAA Division I, Trae Young, Oklahoma has gone over the century mark five times this season, and a dozen times has scored at least 90 points. In the last five games, however, three of which were on the road, the Sooners have exceeded 80 points just twice.

Young has been getting his points – he has had just one game with under 20 points through 18 games this season – but the trouble is, the Sooner freshman sensation is not getting the support he should be getting in the scoring column from his OU teammates. This problem has become increasingly apparent in Oklahoma’s last two outings.

The Sooners averaged just 75 points a game in back-to-back losses last week at Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Young scored 68 combined points in the two games, but he also took 60 shots to score those 68 points. Young alone represented 41.6 percent of Oklahoma’s total field-goal attempts in the two games and 45.3 of the Sooners points.

In OU’s three Big 12 losses – to West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma State – Young averaged right at 40 percent of the Sooners’ total shot attempts and 42.7 percent of their total points. That represents far too much offensive imbalance and is not a formula for sustained success in what is very much considered a team sport.

In the loss to Oklahoma State, Young launched 39 of the Sooners 82 field-goal tries, or 47.5 percent, and 20 of those attempts were deep threes.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

There is no denying that Young is a phenomenal talent and may just be the national player of the year as a true freshman, but Oklahoma has become too one-dimensional, and opposing teams have begun double- and triple-teaming Young when he has the ball, and denying him the ball when he gives it up.

When Young is doubled with the ball, that leaves an open Sooner somewhere on the court, but the supporting cast hasn’t been able to produce consistently in recent games, which may be one reason why the Sooner superstar feels he needs to shoulder more of the scoring load.

OU also needs a better contribution from its reserves than it has been getting recently. In the two losses last week, the Sooner bench contributed a combined 18 points.

Young generally heats up as the game goes on. Thirty-four of his 48 points in the Oklahoma State game came after halftime, and at one point late in the game he hit three consecutive long-range bombs to put the Sooners up in the game. It was his marksmanship that brought OU back in the game and enable the Sooners to get the lead and almost win it in regulation.

But while we celebrate Young’s career-high 48-point performance, we also must acknowledge that several of his 39 shot attempts were poor shot selections that probably should not have been attempted. But with no other Sooner wielding much of a hot hand recently, the chances of Young’s shot going in may have seemed a better option than the alternative.

Not only is the Sooner Superman the nation’s leading scorer, but he also is the assists leader, averaging over nine a game. He needs to utilize that talent and begin getting his teammates more involved. If he does, his teammates must step up and deliver when Young gets them the ball.

If this doesn’t start happening and quickly, opponents are going to continue to put all of the attention on Young and force the rest of the OU players on the floor to beat them.  If not, it’s going to be a rough remainder of the road for Sooner basketball this season.