How can OU's Jacob Groves snap out of his slump? 'Get excited about winning plays'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

NORMAN — Porter Moser didn't have many ways he could affect the game during his playing career at Creighton.

The former guard averaged 4.6 points and 18.5 minutes per game in his four seasons as a Bluejay, and more than half of his shot attempts came from behind the arc. Moser admits he was a 3-point specialist and not much else, which only put more pressure on him to knock down his shots.

So the OU head coach knows what it looks like when a player is pressing, and he has seen that lately in Jacob Groves.

The senior forward has started every game for the Sooners this season, but his minutes have declined. OU has gone smaller, often using a three-guard lineup, and Groves has played an average of just 13.3 minutes in the team's last four games as a result.

The declining role has affected Groves, who's averaging 1.3 points during that time while shooting 15.4% from the floor and 14.3% from deep.

It has been a rough stretch for the Eastern Washington transfer. But as OU looks to snap its four-game conference skid with a road game against West Virginia at 7 p.m. Saturday, Moser knows his team will need a strong outing from Groves.

More:OU basketball's four-game Big 12 skid plagued by 'disheartening' rebounding struggles

Oklahoma forward Jacob Groves (34) drives past Alabama center Charles Bediako (14) to shoot in the first half on Jan. 28 in Norman.
Oklahoma forward Jacob Groves (34) drives past Alabama center Charles Bediako (14) to shoot in the first half on Jan. 28 in Norman.

"He’s got way more qualities than I had," Moser said. "(Shooting) was like one of my only qualities. But you can’t put all of your eggs in the shooting basket. Impact winning in any other way. Make energy plays. Get a defensive stop or a rebound. ... We need him."

Groves showed his value in non-conference play.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 11 points and 3.3 rebounds during OU's ESPN Events Invitational run. He shot a blistering 54.5% from deep in the three contests, which ended in the Sooners winning the tournament title.

Groves even showed an ability to impact the game in ways outside of scoring during Big 12 play. In addition to recording 17 points in a 70-69 loss to 10th-ranked Texas on Dec. 31, he tied for a career-high three steals.

“Man, he’s had some big games for us," Moser said. "I’ve got to help him try to get out of it. How you do that is get excited about winning plays, not just making shots. ... That’s what I want to focus on with Jacob."

To Groves' credit, he's good at making shots.

Excluding OU's last four games, the stretch big is shooting 41.3% from 3-point range this season. It makes him a valuable weapon on an a team that has struggled at times to put the ball through the rim.

More:What's next for OU men's basketball after getting throttled by OSU in Bedlam rematch?

Excluding OU's last four games, Jacob Groves is shooting 41.3% from 3-point range this season.
Excluding OU's last four games, Jacob Groves is shooting 41.3% from 3-point range this season.

But even if Groves finds his touch from deep again, he likely won't see an increase in playing time until he becomes more active on the glass.

The veteran forward is only averaging 2.6 rebounds this season. He has a defensive rebound percentage of 10.3%, which is lower than freshmen guards Milos Uzan and Otega Oweh.

OU is able to roll with a three-guard lineup without sacrificing much on the glass as a result, and that showed in the team's 77-76 win over West Virginia on Jan. 14.

The Sooners won the battle on the boards, 23-15, despite only getting three rebounds in 24 minutes from Groves. Their starting backcourt of Grant Sherfield and Uzan led the way with a combined 13 rebounds.

Groves has a chance to redeem himself when OU faces West Virginia once again Saturday. And while Groves has been pressing as of late, Moser knows it comes from a good place.

"I don’t know if anyone cares more than Jacob," Moser said. "He’s everything you want in a program. He cares about winning. But when you press, it's human nature. It doesn't mean he’s selfish. ... We’ve got to get him playing better, and I’ve got to help him through that.”

More:Tramel's ScissorTales: OU basketball's rout of Alabama was a throwback to Billy Tubbs' era

How to watch Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

TIPOFF: 7 p.m. Saturday at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. (ESPNN)

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU men's basketball: Sooners' Jacob Groves looks to snap slump vs. WVU