Oklahoma faced a measuring stick game on Friday against No. 2 Wisconsin in the championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. They were found lacking, as the Badgers showed why they are one of the best teams in the country, taking down the Sooners, 69-56.
The tournament as a whole was a success for the Sooners, as Oklahoma took down good UCLA and Butler teams before falling to one of this year's national title favorites. It was a great response to last week's unexpected loss at Creighton and gave the Sooners plenty of things to work on as the season progresses.
But the Sooners were their own worst enemy against Wisconsin. OU committed 21 turnovers, but the key was the 13 turnovers OU committed in the first half. Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky was on the bench for all but five minutes with foul trouble, but the Sooners couldn't take advantage of the stroke of good luck. Wisconsin turned the 13 Oklahoma turnovers into 15 points and took a 34-33 lead into the half.
The Badgers came out firing in the second half, using a 16-2 run over the first seven minutes of the half to open up a 50-35 lead. The Sooners were ice-cold from the field to start the second period, going 1-for-9 from the field with four turnovers.
With turnovers and poor shot selection plaguing the Sooners in the second half, Oklahoma was unable to really threaten the Badgers' lead. Oklahoma cut the lead to nine points on two occasions in the second half, but couldn't get the necessary shots to fall to cut the lead down further.
The Sooners shot 37 percent for the game and were led by Dinjiyl Walker's 10 points off the bench. Walker and D.J. Bennett came off the bench to score 13 first half points and give the Sooners a much-needed lift at the beginning of the game.
Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins each scored nine points, but were just 5-of-22 from the field and 3-of-11 from 3-point range. Hield didn't score in the second half and missed all seven of his shots.
Wisconsin had five players score in double figures, led by Kaminsky, who scored 17 points, 14 of those in the second half. Traevon Jackson and Duje Dukan each had 13 points.
The Badgers gave the Sooners an excellent lesson in team basketball, assisting on 19 of the team's 27 baskets. Oklahoma had just six assists on 17 made baskets. The score would have been a lot more lopsided, but the Sooners were 17-of-19 from the free throw line while the Badgers were just 6-of-8.
While the tournament didn't end for Oklahoma the way the Sooners would have like, the last seven minutes of the first half gave everyone a glimpse of how good the Sooners can be. Oklahoma led 14-12 at the under-8 minute TV timeout, but from that point on, the Sooners and Badgers traded blows until halftime, burying 3-pointers and making great passes for easy buckets. It was a lot of fun to watch and certainly gave the Sooners a lot to build on in the midst of a disappointing finish.
The Sooners still have a ways to go before they become a threat to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this year, but so far, Oklahoma has played at Creighton and participated in the toughest tournament in the country.
The stiff competition tested the Sooners, as evidenced by Oklahoma's 4-2 record through six games, but those tests will help this team down the road in nonconference action and in the rugged Big 12.