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OU basketball: Late-game shot selection dooms Sooners, Utah State hands Porter Moser's group 1st loss

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Umoja Gibson

Senior guard Umoja Gibson during the game against UTSA on Nov. 12.

Porter Moser was frustrated by his team’s late-game shot selection.

Ahead by four points with two minutes and 37 seconds left in the game, the OU coach and his team needed to drain some clock. Instead, the Sooners attempted two 3-point shots early in the shot clock, allowing Utah State to close the gap by points. Moser’s team struggled shooting, finishing 27.3 percent from 3-point range.

Oklahoma (4-1) fell to Utah State (4-1) 73-70 in the Myrtle Beach Invitational championship game in Conway, South Carolina, on Sunday, dropping their first game of the season. OU showed some defensive effort, but its lackluster 3-point shooting proved costly.

“We came down with a couple of early shots in the shot clock,” junior guard Jalen Hill said. “That led to their little comeback … we’ll be better later on in games down the stretch of the season.”

Senior guard Umoja Gibson continued his stellar play to start the season, finishing with a double-digit scoring effort for the fifth-straight game. He dropped 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from 3. Senior forward Tanner Groves scored 18 and grabbed seven boards. Hill and senior guard Elijah Harkless both added 10 points.

Despite coming into the game ranked No. 1 in Division I in 2-point field goal percentage at 64 percent, Oklahoma shot only 42.2 percent from the field. The Sooners also lost the rebound battle 39-32 against the taller lineup of the Aggies, and turned the ball over 10 times.

During the final two minutes of play, the Aggies outscored the Sooners 10-4. Alongside the unadvised 3-point attempts, the Sooners missed a key free throw in the final seconds of the game, which would’ve cut the Aggies’ lead to two. Down three with two seconds left, redshirt senior guard Jordan Goldwire missed his first attempt from the line, granting Utah State the ball to dribble out until the buzzer.

“The whole game comes down to that two minute stretch,” Moser said. “We’ve got to know how to win and that starts with me. We talk about time and score all the time, and they want to win so bad. It's just you need some guard leadership in there to calm them down and get a good possession.”

Utah State forward Justin Bean dominated the Sooners in all facets of the game. The Moore native finished with 24 points, including two clutch free throws with under four seconds remaining in the game. Bean shot 8-for-11 from the field, grabbed 19 rebounds and committed two steals.

“What a game he had,” Moser said. “Got to give him so much credit … (Bean’s) probably one of the hardest players to guard.”

After a tough loss, Oklahoma hopes to get back on track when it faces Houston Baptist at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25 in Norman.

“(Utah State) is a NCAA tournament team, and I felt that,” Moser said. “That’s what you want this time of year, that’s how you’re going to grow.

“Disappointed we lost, but the only thing we can do is we’ve got to have some takeaways from this game and move forward and grow from it … we can’t let this loss go to waste.” 

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