The Oklahoma Sooners held UTSA scoreless for a span of almost eight minutes in the first half Friday night and then capitalized on the momentum, rolling to an easy 96-44 victory over the Roadrunners.
In the game played at the Noble Center in Norman, Okla., UTSA kept its head above water in the first few minutes, leading 4-2, before the home team set in motion a crushing defensive performance with a 17-0 run.
As the teams took a break for intermission, OU entered the UTSA record book by holding the Roadrunners to their fewest points in a half (10).
With a 33-10 lead, the Sooners came out and kept pouring it on in the second half, increasing the advantage to 30 with 16:55 left, to 40 with eight minutes remaining and, ultimately, to 53 with 33 seconds to go.
In the end, it was one of the most lopsided losses in UTSA’s 41-year school history.
“They just got after us from the start,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told Jay Howard on the team’s radio broadcast. “We just couldn’t get a good shot early on. We were fighting. We fought defensively for awhile. But I think just the fact that we could not get good looks at the basket eventually took some of our energy away from the defensive end, and it just steamrolled on us.”
Late in the half, OU center Tanner Groves asserted himself with shot-making both inside the paint and from 3-point range. Groves, during the streak, fired in one shot from beyond the arc, sank a mid-range jumper and flipped in a jump hook.
He finished with 21 points to lead four players in double figures. Umoja Gibson, Elijah Harkless and Marvin Johnson scored 10 each for the Sooners, who shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half and ended with 58.2 percent for the game.
On the flip side, UTSA shot 22.7 percent, just off the school record 22.6 percent set on March 2, 2013, in a 53-37 home loss to Seattle.
With first-year coach Porter Moser in charge, Oklahoma employed a switching defense, with obvious positive results.
“They got a bunch of interchangeable sized guys. That’s kind of what we try to do defensively. Certainly, they were able to blow up a lot of our action with their switching,” Henson said.
A bright spot for UTSA was forward Dhieu Deing, a newcomer to the team who played his high school career at High Point, N.C. Held scoreless early, Deing got hot late and hit five three-pointers. He finished with 15 points. Guard Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 10 points and center Jacob Germany six.
UTSA hosts a three-day, multi-team event starting Monday at the Convocation Center. The Roadrunners play Texas A&M-Commerce on Monday night at 7:30. They’ll take on Denver on Tuesday night at 7:30 and IUPUI on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30.
With the victory, Oklahoma of the Big 12 Conference improved to 7-0 against UTSA all time, including 5-0 against the Henson-coached Roadrunners. OU handed Henson his worst loss last year, 105-66.
Coming into the game, UTSA men’s basketball was winless in 12 years against teams from the five biggest revenue-producing athletic conferences. The loss dropped UTSA to 0-24 against Power Five opponents in that span. The program’s last victory over a P5 team came in November of 2009 at Iowa of the Big Ten.
Moser came to OU from Loyola-Chicago to replace Lon Kruger, who retired after last season. Moser is best known by fans in South Texas for leading his team to the 2018 NCAA Final Four at the Alamodome.
Under Moser, OU has stocked its roster with transfers, including brothers Tanner Groves and Jacob Groves from Eastern Washington, Ethan Chargois (SMU) and Jordan Goldwire (Duke). Also, super senior Marvin Johnson (Eastern Illinois).
Goldwire played 116 games at Duke over the last four years.