In the final seconds of his No. 1 Oklahoma squad's 80-69 loss at Kansas State on Saturday night, Buddy Hield launched a deep 3-pointer as security personnel at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, linked arms and prepared for a court storming.
That shot by Hield (23 points, 3-for-8 from the 3-point line), the Wooden Award's projected winner by anyone who knows anything about college basketball, sailed wide right of the rim. That's how the night went for the Sooners, who lost their fourth consecutive road game against Kansas State and finished 6-for-24 on 3-pointers.
Oklahoma, one of the top 3-point shooting teams in recent college basketball history, connected on 25 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc. And that, along with this question, is worth examining for a team that entered Saturday's game with 39 percent of its offense coming from 3s, the No. 2 mark among major conference schools after Michigan (41 percent), according to ESPN Stats & Info:
What will happen in March if Oklahoma goes cold again from beyond the arc?
But first, let's discuss what Saturday night was not.
It's not the fodder for some harsh, exaggerated, hot-take analysis of Oklahoma basketball, although Ryan Spangler's role as an interior defender demands a second look. This is still one of America's best teams. And the result is not crazy in a season that has featured Oklahoma State over Kansas, Northern Iowa over North Carolina, Arkansas over Texas A&M, Illinois over Purdue and Virginia Tech over Virginia -- all in road matchups for the favored opponents -- it's common.
Also, Saturday was not the basis for a conversation about Oklahoma's poise. Yeah, Isaiah Cousins kicked a ball and drew a late technical foul. And every fan rooting for the Sooners kicked something, too. By then, they needed a miracle to win, considering how they struggled throughout the matchup. Cousins was wrong. But it was just a bad decision on a bad night.
Saturday shouldn't lead to unsubstantiated doubts about Oklahoma's role in the Big 12 race. The Sooners are still on top at 7-3, bunched with Texas, West Virginia, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State. But we all knew the conference race wouldn't end for weeks. Too much talent in the top tier of that league.
So what is this? What was Saturday?
Perhaps it was a reminder of Oklahoma's reliance on the 3-ball. That warrants scrutiny. The Sooners entered Saturday's game shooting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc, No. 1 in America and the highest mark in nearly 25 years (Green Bay shot 46.7 percent from the 3-point line in 1991-92), and receiving 39 percent of their total offense from 3-pointers.
You can win big with those marks. According to KenPom.com, Florida relied on 3-pointers for 38 percent of its offense in the 2011-12 season, the same year the Gators reached the Elite Eight. Iowa State (37.4 percent) advanced to the second round in 2012-13.
But Indiana (36.3 percent) lost in the first round of last season's NCAA tournament and Michigan (36.2 percent) didn't make the Big Dance. Vanderbilt (38.7 percent) watched the 2013 NCAA tournament from home.
The bulk of the teams that finished in the top 30 spots of 3-point shooting distribution, per KenPom.com, were mid-majors. And that makes sense. The 3-ball is the game's great neutralizer. It can minimize the disparity between the talent that backs the game's elite and the non-Power 5 teams.
It's less common to see a major conference school as high as Oklahoma in 2015-16.
Now, the Sooners have one of the best players we've ever watched. And they're blessed with an abundance of shooters who can hurt teams from beyond the arc.
Saturday's loss, however, offered a glimpse of what could happen in March if the 3s stop falling and an Oklahoma squad without a true post-up threat goes cold.
Now, that could happen to any team in America. That's true. But few rely on 3s the way that Oklahoma does.
The ceiling for this team seems obvious. Oklahoma could reach the final stage in Houston and end the season as the national champion. The Sooners have already defeated Villanova, Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor.
But past national champions demonstrated more balance on offense, although they also didn't match Oklahoma's shooting clip. Duke won the championship last season by relying on 3-pointers for 27.5 percent of its offense, 205th nationally. Before the Blue Devils, Connecticut (30 percent, No. 93) in 2014, Louisville (23.2 percent, 287th) in 2013 and Kentucky (21.8 percent, No. 307) in 2012 all relied on shots inside the arc more often than Oklahoma has this season.
That's the conversation that Saturday's loss spawned or prompted the doubters to revisit.
Oklahoma, in a rare moment, wasn't hot. Those out-of-this-world launches from Hield didn't find the rim. They usually do.
In March, Oklahoma could breeze through the NCAA tourney field with a hot hand we have not witnessed in a quarter century.
But Saturday could happen again too: a brilliant squad with historic numbers that seems closer to normal when those shots aren't falling.
On Saturday, Oklahoma's reliance on 3s became its weakness instead of its strength.