Oklahoma basketball: Three takeaways from another OU giveaway

Oklahoma's Tanner Groves (35) looks to save a ball from going out of bounds in the first half during the men's college game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.Ou Mbb Vs Baylor
Oklahoma's Tanner Groves (35) looks to save a ball from going out of bounds in the first half during the men's college game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.Ou Mbb Vs Baylor /

The signs were there from the opening tip. Scoring lapses and ball security doomed the Oklahoma basketball team from the get-go as the Sooners literally handed the game away in a 66-51 loss to the formerly top-ranked Baylor Bears.

Oklahoma (12-7, 2-5) suffered its fifth consecutive loss and second straight at home as No. 5 Baylor (17-2, 5-2) took full advantage of the Sooners inability to handle the ball securely against a stingy Bears’ defense and not generating enough offense when they were able to get off a shot.

Despite falling behind 10-0 in the opening minutes of the game, Oklahoma showed some grit and resilience and was able to fight back and actually take a four-point lead, 19-15, on a 17-3 run late in the opening half.

Baylor responded, though, with a 10-2 scoring run of its own to take a 25-21 advantage to the locker room at halftime. Baylor opened up the second half on an 8-0 run, and in just a minute and a half into the second stanza to Bears’ advantage was up to a dozen points. 33-21. Over the last six minutes of the first half and 90 seconds into the second half, Baylor outscored the Sooners 18-2.

51. 464. Final. 66. 460

Again, Oklahoma mounted a steady comeback, and at the 7:14 mark in the second half had closed to within three points of the Bears at 45-42. Baylor went on an 18-4 run after that to put the game away for good.

Although there were some, but far too few, uplifting moments in the game for the jam-packed 11,000-plus fans in attendance at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, perhaps the biggest highlight came during halftime when new football head coach Brent Venables addressed the crowd.

Baylor won the season series with OU with a pair of wins. The Bears defeated the Sooners 84-74 in Waco earlier in the month. Baylor has now won seven straight over the Sooners.

The Sooners are next in action on Wednesday at West Virginia, and next Saturday they draw No. 2-ranked Auburn on the road, so there isn’t much relief in sight for the struggling Sooners.

Three telling takeaways from Saturday’s game against Baylor:

Turnovers absolutely took the Sooners out of this game

The game had barely gotten underway at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, and before you knew it the Sooners had turned the ball over eight times. The turnover problem bloomed to a season-high 25 by the time the game had ended. You can credit the Baylor defense for a number of those miscues, but a good number were just the result of bad decisions and poor execution by the Sooners on the offensive end.

Oklahoma’s 25 turnovers turned into 35 points for Baylor. I don’t know of any teams that can win a game with that kind of ratio. Over the last three games the Sooners are averaging 18 turnovers a game. That is not acceptable if this team is going to post a winning season, let alone avoid a last-place finish in the Big 12.

The Sooners are averaging 15.1 turnovers per game for the season, which ranks 319th in the country (out of 350 teams).

Not having a go-to player on offense is crippling the Sooners

One of the strong points of the Oklahoma offense is the scoring balance among the starting. All five starters are averaging over nine points a game. That makes it difficult for defenses to key on any one player. The downside, though, is that the Sooners really don’t have a go-to player in the lineup. In spurts, all five OU starters have shown the ability to go on scoring streaks, but not any one on a consistent basis.

Tanner Groves has been Oklahoma’s leading scorer all season, but his average over the past half-dozen games has fallen from close to 15 points a game to 12.7. In the two previous games before Baylor on Saturday, his scoring total was 14 points combined, and he took no shots and was scoreless in the opening have on Saturday.

OU’s big man came to life in the second half on Saturday, however, with 11 points on four-of-six shooting, including two-of-two from long range.

While Groves was showing signs of life on Saturday, two other Sooner starters were virtual no-shows in the scoring column. Senior point guard Jordan Goldwire had a team-high 15 points against Kansas earlier in the week but tallied just two points against Baylor. Likewise, Jalen Hill contributed 10 points in the Kansas game, but was held to just two on Saturday on just three shot attempts.

Next man up; a pair of Sooner reserves take advantage of expanded playing time

Because of foul issues and player unavailability, a couple of Oklahoma reserves got the opportunity for expanded playing time against Baylor and took full advantage of it.

Junior Akol Mawein and redshirt senior Marvin Johnson, a pair of transfers who joined the Sooners after Porter Moser was hired as the new OU head coach, came off the bench and contributed on both ends of the floor.

Mawein, who transferred from Navarro College, a junior college in Texas, scored six points along with four rebounds and two steals in 13 minutes of action. Johnson, who played the last two seasons at Eastern Illinois, had five points and a pair of rebounds in nine minutes of playing time. Coming into the Baylor game, both had averaged no more than six minutes of action.