Good shooting helped Oklahoma take a late lead, but bad shooting doomed the Sooners down the stretch.
The shooting woes started after Elijah Harkless made a 3-pointer to give the Sooners a six-point lead over Utah State with five minutes to go.
From that point, the Sooners missed all five of their 3-point attempts while also committing two turnovers.
The cold shooting helped Utah State’s 15-6 run in the final minutes and the Sooners couldn’t recover, losing 73-70 in the Myrtle Beach Invitations championship game on Sunday.
The Sooners shot 53 percent from the floor in the second half and 36 percent from the 3-point line, but that stretch to end the game proved to be the difference.
“We were up six and anyone who was watching the game saw it,” OU coach Porter Moser said. “We’re up six [with] under four [minutes], and we took three ill-advised 3s in a row.
“You have to understand time and score. It starts with me. I said it on the radio. If they don’t know it, it starts with me.”
After a stretch of hot shooting to start the season, the Sooners crashed back to earth in the first half.
The team shot just 32 percent in the first half but trailed by just two points in the half because of their defensive effort, scoring 13 points on nine Utah State turnovers while holding the Aggies to 41 percent shooting.
In the second half, the Sooners looked to score at the rim.
They feed Tanner Groves on several postups, and Groves turned those opportunities into 14 second-half points while making 6-of-10 shots.
“We felt like we took a lot of good shots in the first half, but we felt like we needed to get it inside,” OU forward Jalen Hill said. “Even if it was off the dribble, paint touches from the post. ... From there we can work inside out and get 3’s and still take good shots.”
Despite the shooting slump, Jordan Goldwire made a layup with six seconds remaining to cut the Aggies’ lead to one point. But the Aggies made two free throws to extend the lead back to three points before smartly fouling Goldwire before he could attempt a game-tying 3-pointer.
The Aggies rebounded Goldwire’s missed free throw, sealing the win.
“We’ve got to establish some guard leadership down the stretch,” Moser said. “I’ve got to help them with that.”
Groves led the team with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Hill recorded a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
Sunday marked the Sooners first loss of the season, who now have a 4-1 record on the season.
After the loss, Mosers’ focus shifts to building on the late-game mistakes before the team’s 7 p.m. home matchup against Houston Baptist on Wednesday.
“[Utah State is] so old. They’re very old, skilled, experienced,” Moser said. “They’re an NCAA tournament team. You felt that, I felt that. That’s what you want this time of year. That’s how you’re gonna grow.
“I’m disappointed we lost. The only thing we can do is we have to have some takeaways from this game and grow from it.”