By JOHN SHINN
The last two offensive plays Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger called were for different players. One was for leading scorer Romero Osby. The other was Steven Pledger — the Sooners’ best shooter.
It might not have worked to perfection in their last game at Arkansas on Dec. 4, but OU has shown it has multiple scoring options.
Osby is averaging 12.6 points a game. If it seems low for a leading scorer, it is. However, he, forward Amath M’Baye and Pledger are all averaging double figures. Freshman guard Buddy Hield is averaging 8.5 points a game off the bench.
The Sooners, however, lack a definitive No. 1 scoring option. There’s no one player the offense must run through for it to be successful. The lack of an anointed top scorer is either a blessing or curse.
OU coach Lon Kruger sees pros and cons in having no No.1 scoring option.
“I think we have some candidates for that, but we don’t really have anyone playing with that level of confidence to step up and do that consistently,” he said.
Through eight games, OU had four leading scorers. Only Osby, who has done it four times, has been a consistent threat. The versatile forward scored 22 points in the loss at Arkansas. He is the only player to crack to the 20-point barrier this season.
It might change when OU (6-2) returns to the court at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Texas A M (7-1) in the All-College Classic at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Pledger, who led the Sooners in scoring last season, has been treated as a No. 1 threat by opponents. He’s had a defender glued to his chest the second he crosses the half-court line this season. M’Baye has started to draw more attention as well.
They all see the benefits of a diversified half-court offense.
“We’re getting a lot of open looks because no one really knows who we’re trying to get the ball to,” Pledger said.
“Whoever is hot,” M’Baye said. “Our plan to run our regular motion (offense) and recognize who is hot and who is not. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys who can step up and score. I think everyone is in a position to score.”
The benefits were clear-cut in the second half of the Arkansas game. The Sooners shot 64 percent from the floor and nearly rallied from a double-digit deficit to win.
However, the non-conference schedule is winding down. After the Texas A&M game, OU has just three more games before the Big 12 opener at West Virginia on Jan. 5.
Roles can change over the 18-game conference schedule, but teams typically have an identity by the time conference play begins.
The Sooners believe they have one. Having a multiple players carry the offensive load is part of their personality.
“The exciting thing about where we’re at is I think, potentially, all of those guys can play better,” Kruger said. “Getting them to do that is another story. But there’s a lot of potential for growth.”