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OU men’s basketball: 3 takeaways from Oklahoma’s 61-53 loss to Kansas State

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Austin Reaves and Kristian Doolittle

Redshirt junior guard Austin Reaves and senior forward Kristian Doolittle talk during the game against TCU Jan. 18.

Oklahoma (13-7, 3-4 Big 12) returned to conference play with a 61-53 road loss to Kansas State (9-11, 2-5) on Wednesday.

It was the Sooners’ second meeting with the Wildcats this season, Oklahoma won the first matchup, 66-61, behind a strong second half performance from junior guard Austin Reaves. 

Like last time, the Sooners once again trailed heading into half behind a poor shooting percentage. Unlike last time, the Sooners’ offense failed to reignite in the second half as Oklahoma ultimately faltered on the road.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Sooners start slow

From the start, Oklahoma had trouble getting shots to go in against the Wildcats. During the first ten minutes of play, the Sooners shot 0-8 from the field and failed to make a 3-pointer until 2:17 remained in the first half.

Senior forward Kristian Doolittle missed his first four attempts, ending the first half with four points on 1-6 shooting. OU shot just 32 percent as team in half one and only made one of its eight 3-point attempts. Junior forward Brady Manek only put up two shots in the first half and missed both, he had three total points at half.

However, the Sooners did manage to close the half on a positive note. After trailing by as much as 13, Oklahoma headed into halftime on a 10-3 run to shorten Kansas State’s lead to 28-22. 

Two different defensive tales

Kansas State’s defense held Oklahoma in check for the majority of the game, forcing 10 OU turnovers and seven steals before heading into half. For Oklahoma, four different Sooners had a single block heading into half.

The Wildcats’ strong defensive performance carried on into the second half. OU’s, however, did not. The Sooners’ defense couldn’t make up for the fact that its offense started half two 0-5 from the field. Kansas State started the final half on a 14-5 run. The Sooners ended the game with 19 turnovers.

Oklahoma also had very little answers for junior guard Mike McGuirl — who finished the game with 16 points off the bench for Kansas State. He finished the game 4-5 from the field and 3-4 from deep.

Sooners stifle in second half

Though slow starts have been common this season for the Sooners, slow finishes haven’t. The Sooners started to put together what appeared to be an incredible comeback by pulling within four down the stretch, but just couldn’t get the job done in the final seconds. 

Reaves couldn’t repeat his heroic performance as he finished with 12 points on 38 percent shooting. Manek shot 1-5 from the field for 5 points. Doolittle finished with 6 points, he needs just two more points to join the elusive 1000-career point club.

Next up, the Sooners take on Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. on Feb. 1 in Norman.

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