Oklahoma basketball: Three-pointers from a Sooner Cat-skinning

It is said, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The men’s Oklahoma basketball team found several Tuesday night.

After falling behind late in the opening half, the Sooners went on a 15-2 run to close out the first half and kept the pedal on the medal from there in a 76-50 win over a young and undermanned Kansas State team.

K-State took an 18-17 lead at the seven-minute mark in the first half and stretched the advantage to 22-17 before Oklahoma scored 15 of the final 17 points in the first half. OU opened the second half on a 14-4 run on the way to 44 points over the final 20 minutes in recording their eighth victory of the season.

Oklahoma got a big lift offensively from De’Vion Harmon, who scored a game-high 16 points. Two other starters, Alondes Williams and Kur Kuath added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Kansas State Wildcats
Oklahoma Sooners

Elijah Harkless, a transfer from Cal State Northridge, had his best game of the season for the Sooners, scoring eight points along with 13 rebounds and six assists.

The Sooners are now 8-4 overall and 4-3 in the Big 12. But they face a difficult stretch coming up with four consecutive games against ranked Big 12 opponents, beginning with No. 9 Kansas on Saturday. That is followed by No. 5 Texas, No. 18 Alabama as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and No. 12 Texas Tech. Texas and Texas Tech are away from Lloyd Noble Center.

Despite the runaway win, Lon Kruger is just 8-11 all-time against his alma mater as the Sooners’ head coach. Oklahoma is 5-1, however, in its last six home outings against the Wildcats.

Here are three key takeaways from OU’s mid-week win over K-State:

The Sooners’ offensive balance and depth is paying dividends

The Oklahoma offense has evolved to the extent that the Sooners no longer needs to rely on seniors Austin Reaves and Brady Manek to carry the load. For the second straight game, sophomore guard De’Vion Harmon led the Sooners in scoring. He followed up a 22-point effort in the win a week ago over TCU with a game-high 16 against Kansas State.

Alondes Williams contributed 13 points and Kur Kuath added a dozen more in the win over K-State. Reaves and Manek, Oklahoma’s two leading scorers on the season had eight and six points, respectively. The Sooner bench, which included Manek for this game, contributed 19 points.

The Sooners shot 46 percent as a team in Tuesday’s win, 10 points higher than Kansas State. Oklahoma is now 24-1 over the last two seasons when it shoots a higher percentage than its opponent.

The one disappointment from an offensive perspective was the Sooners’ poor performance at the free-throw line. OU leads the Big 12 in free-throw shooting but was a pedestrian 11 of 21 (54 percent) against Kansas State.

Once again defense plays a critical role in a Sooner victory

Oklahoma held Kansas State to 36-percent shooting (22 for 61) and 33 percent (3 of 15) behind the three-point line. Perhaps more impressive, though, was the 13 steals and 7 blocked shots that led to 20 points off of K-State turnovers and 23 fast-break points.

Brady Manek returns to the roster

Brady Manek was back in the lineup after a two-game absence because of COVID-19 protocols. Manek, who has averaged 12.5 points in 10 games, did not start on Tuesday night and played just 11 minutes. The senior from nearby Harrah, Oklahoma, was two of six from the field, including one of three from long range. The Sooners need Manek’s production, but they’ve shown in the two games he missed that they are capable of winning without him having to carry the heavy water.