Umoja Gibson

Senior guard Umoja Gibson dribbles against UTSA defenders during Friday’s game at the Lloyd Noble Center.

In its season opener earlier this week, Oklahoma led by just three points against Northwestern State.

The Sooners made sure Friday’s game against the University of Texas at San Antonio never got that close.

UTSA led just once, an early 4-2 lead in the first half, before the Sooners quickly ran away with it, winning 96-44.

After UTSA took that early lead, the Sooners responded with a 17-0 run which saw seven different players contribute in the scoring column.

The Sooners defense was stout, holding UTSA scoreless for nine minutes to take a 33-10 halftime lead

It was the Sooners’ defensive performance that stood out to OU coach Porter Moser, whose team moved to 2-0 in his first season with the team.

“When we were guarding, you could just see the momentum,” Moser said. “We were getting out and running more. That’s what we want. We want to run more.”

The team struggled to shoot in the first half, particularly from the 3-point line, but that changed in the second half. The Sooners hit three 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the half, the triples coming from Umoja Gibson, E.J. Harkless and Tanner Groves.

That hot shooting kept up, as the Sooners finished the second half making 9-of-16 3-point attempts, compared to just 2-of-10 in the first half.

They nearly doubled their scoring output compared to the first half, finishing the second half with 63 points.

“The first group started the first and second half really well,” Moser said. “They set the tone. ... We were running out and we were moving it. We talked at halftime, the ball was kind of sticking. We were catching [the ball, then] we’d put it above our head. I thought the ball was popping really well in the second half. It was so much better.”

Four players finished with double-digit scoring performances, led by Groves’ 15.

Moser has emphasized defense leading to offense, and the Sooners finished with 16 fast-break points.

Defense might be what the Sooners hang their hats on this season, according to guard Jordan Goldwire.

“Coach (Moser) preaches defense,” Goldwire said. “Guys are trying to buy in every day. We’ve got this thing called ‘gaps’ where you get three stops back-to-back and you just try to keep getting those throughout the half. I think everybody is trying to buy into that, just trying to get a stop each possession and how important it is.”

The Sooners get a few days off before heading to South Carolina for the Myrtle Beach Invitational. They’ll play East Carolina in the first round at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580

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