Things were going just fine for Oklahoma in its basketball game with Arkansas deep into the first half on Saturday, but a few mistakes right before and after intermission must have felt like putting blood in the water for a bunch of sharks.

The No. 9 Razorbacks (9-1), who trailed by as much as seven points in the opening half, went into a feeding frenzy, forced a flurry of turnovers and ended up racing away to a 88-78 win over the Sooners at Tulsa’s BOK Center.

“That was a big part of the story, a huge part,” Oklahoma head basketball coach Porter Moser said. “If you look at the time line, it was their defensive press, turnover, basket, turnover, basket, turnover, basket, turnover, basket

“…They capitalized and that’s what they do. We talked about taking care of the ball because they turn them into baskets with their extreme athletic ability…I think if you look, it was four turnovers, got to (an) 11-(point lead) and from that point, they just turned up the pressure and just really got us extended.

“It was the turnovers that led to baskets that got them the lead and we didn’t respond to it.”

Arkansas forced 15 Oklahoma turnovers, the most since for the Sooners since a season-opening home loss to Sam Houston State, and had a 58-44 advantage on points in the paint.

“You got to protect the paint and they were going downhill into that paint a lot,” Moser said. “It was their guards. And then their guards can drop it off to their bigs. It’s really hard when the ball is in the paint that much.”

Both teams shot the ball well with the Razorbacks hitting 35-of-59 (59.3 percent) of their field goal attempts and Oklahoma, who hit 11 of its first 13 shots, connecting on 32 of 56 (57.1 percent) of its shots from the field.

Arkansas closed the first half on a 16-8 run to take a 43-40 lead intermission and then scored 14 of the second half’s 20 points to grab a 57-44 advantage.

It was a time when the neutral site game, which estimates say had Arkansas with 70 percent of the crowd, took on the feel of a Razorback home game.

“We didn’t take care of the ball,” Moser said. “We gave them points off turnovers. Points in the paint. Second-chance points. Points off cuts. We need more guys playing better in this atmosphere.”

Arkansas’ Ricky Council led his team with 26 points while Nick Smith added 21, Jordan Walsh 12, Makhi Mitchell 10 and Anthony Black 8 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

“They have high level players and three level scorers and they space you out,” Moser said. “Nick can score at the rim, he cab score mid-range and he can score from 3. Anthony is the same and he can really pass.” 

Grant Sherfield had 23 points to lead Oklahoma (7-3), who had wins Ole Miss, Seton Hall and Nebraska and a close loss to Villanova.

“We just didn’t get stops,” Sherfield said. “They went on a little run. I want to say Ricky Council had a big three and then came back, they got another transition bucket and then we fouled at the end. That’s pretty much what just happened.”

Photo courtesy of University of Oklahoma