Tanner Groves knew Oklahoma would be a work in progress early in the season.
The Sooners were adjusting to a new coach, Porter Moser, and a roster that had been severely overhauled due to transfers both out and in, including Groves’ from Eastern Washington.
But entering Tuesday’s game against Butler in Norman, Okla., Groves said the Sooners are starting to find their groove a bit, especially on the defensive end.
“I think especially defensively, once we’re able to defend as a team, it just gives our team such a presence that it just sparks us and gets us all excited and it helps all of us buy in for the same goal,” Groves said. “I think that’s just been a key piece for us the last few weeks.”
The Sooners (7-1) come into Tuesday’s game on a three-game winning streak, including a home win over then-No. 14 Florida last Wednesday.
Butler (5-3) enters the game on a two-game winning streak, though the wins were against Division II competition.
That comes after a three-game losing streak vs. Michigan State, then-No. 12 Houston and Texas A&M.
“You can’t let that doubt creep in,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “You have to keep belief, and keep belief in each other. And then get fully immersed in the process, regardless of who you play.”
Butler has leaned heavily on its outside shooting, scoring nearly 43 percent of its points from beyond the arc, more than all but one team in the Power Six conferences.
Oklahoma is in the top 25 nationally in defending along the perimeter, holding opponents to 26.5 percent on 3-pointers. Only one team has shot better than 37 percent against the Sooners from distance this season.
Butler’s Bryce Nze is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game with a torn labrum, taking away one of the Bulldogs’ best playmakers around the basket.
Tuesday is the second in a stretch of six games without leaving the state for the Sooners, with five home games and Saturday’s game against Arkansas in Tulsa.
For Butler, it’s the first true road game of the season.
–Field Level Media