This seemed to be a game of two evenly matched teams. It was back and forth that ended 85-80, Oklahoma Sooners. Notre Dame got down early but battled back and even took a lead in the second half. Ultimately it was the three point shooting from Oklahoma that changed the game. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish could not respond or find an answer. This is what we learned.
Free Throws Lost It
Notre Dame has all of a sudden became a bad free throw shooting team. I have no idea when or how this happened, but it is a reality we now have to deal with. Notre Dame had many players miss key free throws down the stretch. They finished the game 11-19, which equals a whopping 58%. Free throws matter, and they matter even more in a close game. You cannot pass up points at the foul line
Oklahoma Can Shoot
This is one of those games where you can chalk it up to a team getting extremely hot. Oklahoma caught fire in the second half from beyond the arc. There were some wide open shots, but for the most part Notre Dame was playing good defense. Not much you can do when you are in position and the opponent still makes the shot. The Sooners finished the game 15-29. I’m no math wizard, but shooting over 50% from three seems like a good way to win a basketball game.
Small Lineup Needs More Time
I noticed that Oklahoma’s run came when Notre Dame was playing the big guys, John Mooney and Juwan Durham. The Irish either played a 2-3 zone that left Oklahoma open threes or were forced to defend a ball screen with a big man. Oklahoma roasted the zone and the Irish bigs could not stay in front of the guards on pick n rolls. The defense got it together when Mike Brey went small and played 5 guards. Going forward, I am interested to see if a small ball lineup can be successful on offense and defense.
The Irish are still 6-2 but improvement needs to come quick. The ACC schedule is looming and will be tough as always. Mike Brey will need to get them in gear as a trip to UCLA is next in line on Saturday.