Oklahoma takes on East Carolina; Sooners' coach focuses on 'best self'

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Oklahoma coach Porter Moser is taking a page from Doc Rivers.

Moser, who coached for Rivers' college coach, Rick Majerus, for a time, said he remembered a talk Rivers gave to Saint Louis players when he and Majerus were coaching there.

"He put the next three games on the schedule and said, 'Boston vs. Boston at Indianapolis, Boston vs. Boston in Orlando, Boston vs. Boston in Cleveland,'" Moser said, alluding to Rivers' time coaching the Boston Celtics. "You've got to be chasing your best self right now."

Moser said his approach with the Sooners early this season, including in Thursday night's Myrtle Beach Invitational opener against East Carolina (3-0), is centered on getting the most out of his team versus focusing on the opponent.

"We've really talked about that with our guys and getting better," Moser said.

That especially applies to the defensive end, where the Sooners have held their first two opponents to below 26 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

"We're moving in the right direction," Moser said after a 96-44 blowout of Texas-San Antonio last Friday. "You've got to get them to believe in it, and I really saw some belief in it."

The Sooners (2-0) have allowed just 103 points through their first two games, wins over Northwestern State and UTSA.

Elijah Harkless and Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire, named to the ACC All-Defensive team last season, have set the tone defensively so far for the Sooners.

Thursday's meeting will be the first between the Sooners and East Carolina.

The Pirates have steadily improved on offense during their unbeaten start, but East Carolina coach Joe Dooley said there's still plenty to improve on.

"We need to get better at rebounding," Dooley said. "I do think the rebounding deal is going to be an important one for us."

In Sunday's 95-79 win over Western Carolina, the Pirates were outrebounded 37-33, and the Catamounts had 23 second-chance points while East Carolina had just two.

Tristen Newton is averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game for the Pirates this season.

The winner will take on the Old Dominion-Indiana State winner in the tournament semifinals.

--Field Level Media