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OU basketball: Ahead of matchup with Houston Baptist, Sooners learning from mistakes vs Utah State

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Jordan Goldwire

Redshirt senior guard Jordan Goldwire fires off a shot during the game against Northwestern State on Nov. 9.

Oklahoma’s late-game shot selection left much to be desired in its 73-70 loss to Utah State on Sunday.

Seniors Tanner Groves, Umoja Gibson and Elijah Harkless took and missed 3-pointers early in the shot clock over the course of three-straight possessions with under five minutes to play. That opened the door for Utah State to climb back in the game and win, handing Moser his first loss as OU's coach.

“I was surprised,” head coach Porter Moser said on Tuesday. “We’ve worked on four minute games a ton, ‘up eight, down eight, up six...’ I think it was a little bit of them wanting to be ‘the guy.’”

Moser stressed the importance of finding a player who will be OU’s vocal leader down the stretch of games. Through its first four games, Groves and senior guard Jordan Goldwire both flashed potential to be the team’s vocal leader. However, both made mistakes late — each missed a 3 and had a turnover, and Goldwire missed a key free throw.

“I have been (pleased with the shot selection) up until the last game,” Moser said. “I thought some of our shot selection and guys forcing some issues… sometimes you have to pass up a good one to get a great one.

“There were a lot of teaching moments in that last game.”

The Sooners will have an opportunity to continue to find their vocal leader — which may very well end up being Goldwire or Groves, if not both — against Houston Baptist on Wednesday. The Huskies rank No. 351 out of 358 Division I schools in the KenPom rankings.

After Houston Baptist, though, Oklahoma’s schedule gets considerably tougher.

In a two-week span, OU will take on UCF, Florida, Butler and Arkansas, all of which are in the KenPom top 100. Both SEC schools are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

OU will play UT Arlington and Alcorn State in late December. Those opponents should present less of a challenge, but after the turn of the New Year, the only team left on the Sooners’ schedule not in the KenPom top 100 is Iowa State, at No. 110.

“We’ve got to take something away that’s going to help us win a game in the future,” Moser said. “And that is time and score with shot selection, and we have to have a voice on the floor.”

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