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No. 12 Oklahoma tries to learn from first loss, faces C. Arkansas


After ending a tough nonconference stretch with their first loss of the season, No. 12 Oklahoma will get a bit of a reprieve Thursday when they take on Central Arkansas in Norman, Okla.

The Sooners (10-1) are coming off an 81-69 loss to North Carolina eight days earlier.

The loss ended a four-game stretch where the Sooners beat Providence, Arkansas and Green Bay. Oklahoma also has wins over Iowa and Southern California this year.

“I think we’ve got a huge room for improvement,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said. “What I feel this team has done is they have really embraced trying to get better. Everybody teaches spacing. We really teach spacing, and we emphasize so many little things.”

That spacing has played a big part in the Sooners being in the top 15 nationally in shooting at 50.1 percent and in the top 10 inside the arc at 59.4 percent.

Oklahoma has also been strong on the other end as well, holding opponents to just 38.1 percent from the floor, in the top 20 nationally, and just 27.1 percent from beyond the arc.

“We’ve been doing different presses to slow teams down,” Moser said. “We’re going to keep being who we are. We’ve just gotta be better at it.”

While the Sooners have excelled at shooting and defending the shot, the Bears have struggled.

Central Arkansas (3-10) is shooting just 39.6 percent from the floor, among the worst in the nation. Opponents are shooting 44.3 percent from the field against the Bears.

Central Arkansas will also be coming off an eight-day layoff, having not played since a 65-54 loss to Western Illinois on Dec. 20.

In that loss, the Bears were just 4-of-21 on 3-pointers, shooting a season-low 19 percent. Central Arkansas also had a season-low five assists.

The Bears are looking for their first win over a major-conference program.

Freshman forward Tucker Anderson is leading Central Arkansas in scoring, averaging 14.0 points per game.

“Tucker is a very skilled, high-IQ basketball player,” Bears coach Anthony Boone told “Unsurprisingly, he comes from great stock. We could tell from the jump he was going to be a great player and have a great freshman year for us.”

While Anderson had shot nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc in his 10 previous games going into Western Illinois, he was 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in that loss.

Junior swingman Elias Cato, like Anderson 6-foot-9, is averaging 10.8 points per game.

Oklahoma’s scoring has been led by Otega Oweh (15.6 points per game) and Javian McCollum (14.3).

The Sooners also have two players averaging more than 3.5 assists per game — Milos Uzan at 3.9 and McCollum at 3.6.

Oweh is among the nation’s leaders in steals at 2.4 per game.

Thursday’s game is the fourth meeting between the programs all-time. The Sooners have won each of the previous three — all in Norman — by an average of more than 22 points per game.

Oklahoma won the most recent meeting, 87-66, in December of last season.

–Field Level Media

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