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OU basketball: Jordan Goldwire, Elijah Harkless propel Sooners to 2nd half rebound against Houston Baptist

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Elijah Harkless and Jordan Goldwire

Senior guard Elijah Harkless and senior guard Jordan Goldwire during the game against UTSA on Nov. 12.

The first half of Oklahoma’s game against Houston Baptist on Wednesday was less than stellar until Jordan Goldwire and Elijah Harkless sparked a second half run.

OU shot only 31 percent from the field and missed 11 3-point attempts while turning the ball over eight times. Had it not been for a five minute stretch in which the Huskies didn’t score, Oklahoma could have faced a larger halftime deficit than 27-22.

However, Oklahoma (5-1) overcame its first half struggles with a resounding second half performance to defeat Houston Baptist (1-4) 57-40. In the second half, a seemingly different team stymied the Huskies, allowing only five points in the first 16 minutes. Led by senior guards Goldwire and Harkless, the Sooners turned defense into offense, beginning the half on an 18-0 run.

“Jordan (is the) head of the snake, really on defense,” Harkless said after the game. “On offense, he’s the person with the ball. Most of the time on defense, he’s picking up (the ball), setting the tempo, setting the tone. He did an amazing job making it easy on everyone else because he has the ball up top and just makes it easy to play.”

Goldwire finished with 11 points on 50 percent shooting with three rebounds and assists to go with a block and a steal. Harkless’ role was equally as important to OU’s comeback as Goldwire’s. He finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“He was getting after whoever he was guarding in the second half, making it tough for them,” Goldwire said. “He was able to get to the foul line as a result of that. He’s a leader on the team, he has a voice, he comes in every day working. He’s a guy I respect a lot and I’m happy to have him on my team.”

The duo provided a punch on offense during the dominant second-half stretch in addition to their defensive efforts, combining for 12 points during the Sooners’ 27-4 run that started the second half. To head coach Porter Moser, their biggest impact didn’t show up on the box score.

“I loved how Jordan and EJ responded,” Moser said. “They really set the tone defensively, we really decided to space (the floor) and they were picking us up right after half court, and they were really getting up into our guards. So, we decided to set a high ball screen and really open it up and run some actions with that high ball screen and let Jordan get downhill. And I thought Jordan did a great job getting downhill to start the second half.”

Outside of OU’s mostly weak offensive performance, another bright spot was junior forward Jacob Groves scored eight points and had four rebounds.

“I thought (Jacob Groves) had tremendous energy,” Moser said. “He was another guy that was key to everything because we need depth. It’s one of our things we’re going to be talking about a lot. We need more guys producing and playing well. We have to really develop that depth. It's been something at post practice workouts now, where it's all geared towards our depth. It's a big thing for us. We have to develop it.”

Oklahoma will have to find and develop that depth quickly before facing UCF at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27 ahead of premium matchups with Florida, Arkansas and Butler.

Goldwire, Harkless, Jacob Groves and his brother senior Tanner Groves, OU’s leading scorer this season who finished with five points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal on Wednesday, have all shown potential.

However, that potential will need to become consistent performance sooner rather than later for OU to continue its winning ways.

“We have to be consistent on offense and not let a couple of missed shots bother us,” Moser said. “At this level, you can’t have one or two guys playing well. We need a bunch of guys playing well.

“We need depth and we need more guys playing well consistently. It's our job as coaches to help move that along.”

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