Feb 22, 2012; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners forward Romero Osby (24) dunks the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second half at the Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Going into Wednesday night's Bedlam basketball game in Norman the Sooners had lost six consecutive games but had won seven in a row against the Cowboys in the Lloyd Noble Center. Something had to give, right?
The Sooners jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the Cowboys never trailed in the game. Four Sooners scored in double figures led by Steven Pledger's 17 points. The Sooners outscored OSU 28-8 in the paint, 12-7 off turnovers, 12-4 in second chance points, 6-3 on fast break and most importantly 14-4 from the bench. They had a 15 rebound advantage on the boards and outshot the Cowboys 46.8% from the floor to 36.7% to literally dominate ever stastical category.
The key to this game though was defense. Oklahoma had it and Oklahoma State...not so much. The Sooners held O-State to a pitiful 16.7% from the floor in the first half while shooting 44.8% themselves. Over the course of the game OU outrebounded the Cowboys 47-32, blocked seven shots and collected four steals while forcing twelve turnovers. The Sooners defensive performance led them to a 30-12 halftime lead but OSU came out of the locker room motivated to make it a game. After O-State cut the lead to three points, 42-39, on a Keiton Page three-point shot at the 13:05 mark of the second half Oklahoma went on a 9-0 run and then eventually built the lead back up to 20 points before setlling in for the 13-point win.
On so many other occasions this season Lon Kruger's team has been extremely close to pulling out a game when one or two things went wrong to prevent the victory. The Sooners have played great first halves against Kansas twice as well as Texas and Missouri before falling apart in the second half. It appeared as if that was on its way to happening once more when the Cowboys started the second half by outscoring the Sooners by 15 points over the first seven minutes. However, this was the time when it finally all came together for Oklahoma and where they had been close in the other instances they were spot on this time.
Everything fell into place for OU on Wednesday night. Tyler Neal and Cameron Clark made crucial shots in the first half to give the Sooners a comfortable lead. When the Cowboys started making a run in the second half it was Pledger and Romero Osby who fended them off and stretched the lead back up to twenty points. It was the best team performance we've seen from OU since the Kansas State game. So much so that Osby quietly put together a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds and yet the talk is about team instead of an individual performance.
Coach Kruger has this team heading in the right direction. After losing six in a row they could have easily packed it in for the season. They're young enough where most of them could start looking at next season when the bench will be much deeper and the possibilities much greater. However, they still have a lot of fight in them and this game put them with a season record of 14-13 with three games left. A post season berth in the NIT or CBI isn't likely but at least it's still a possibility at this point in the season.