If you're going to try to outmuscle and out hustle the Oklahoma Sooners in basketball then you had better pack a lunch. The West Virginia Mountaineers tried it last month before losing in double overtime and the Oklahoma State Cowboys tried it Monday night before falling to Oklahoma 64-61.
Oklahoma State proved that with physical play you can force the Sooners into an ugly game of basketball and have a chance, as West Virginia did, at the end to win. Monday's Bedlam basketball game featured 53 free throws (36 by the Sooners) and bodies hitting the floor all night. Most notably was when OSU's Martavius Adams was called for an intentional foul for grabbing Taylor Griffin around the neck and slamming him to the floor.
Griffin responded by forcing a turnover on Oklahoma States next possession and then going coast-to-coast for a two handed jam. Following the dunk Griffin mimicked OSU's trash talking forward Marcus Dove by linking his hands at the thumb and flapping his hands to mimic the gesture Dove has used after dunking. Dove would foul out not allowing his walk to match his talk by only scoring five points on the night.
Oklahoma is about as tough a team you'll find in the Big 12 Conference. They actually seem to thrive on physical play. Taylor Griffin put up the best performance of his career with 20 points while his younger brother contributed 15. Austin Johnson was the third Sooner to score in double figures with 10. So why are teams able to take the Sooners to the wire by playing physical?
In a word (actually two) free throws. The Sooners failed to convert on 16 of their free throw attempts and subsequently failed to put Oklahoma State away in the second half. Make those free throws and suddenly a three point nail-biter becomes a nineteen point blowout. This won't be the last time that OU is involved in a physical game and if the Sooners can't turn opportunities from the charity stripe into points on the board it is going to cost them a game or two.
As for now Oklahoma has won three games in a row to move their conference record to 3-2 and are heading to College Station for an important game against the Aggies that could put them two games above .500 in conference play. It's a very winnable game for OU but it will also be very physical.