USA TODAY Sports
This isn't intended to serve as a recap of last night's Oklahoma/Texas men's basketball game. One, because if you watched it you already know what happened and I suspect you, like me, don't really want to relive it. And two, because Richard already did a superb job recapping the debacle that was Wednesday night in his write-up.
What I feel compelled to address is the reaction to a particular incident which took place in the game. As you would expect, many are piling on after an epic collapse on the part of the Oklahoma men's basketball team Wednesday night down in Austin. As many of you are already aware, the Sooners squandered a 22 point lead with about seven minutes to go in the second half and wound up losing to their hated rival in overtime.
Many are predictably pointing to Amath M'Baye's decision to thrown the now infamous 'Horns Down' following an alley-oop dunk as the turning point in the game. The insinuation apparently being that his hand gesture, while unintentionally offending Mack Brown, was just the motivation this Texas team needed and thus spurned their comeback efforts.
In short, give me a freaking break.
While I'm not the least bit surprised a number of writers chose to make M'Baye's gesture a focus of their postgame recaps, it doesn't make it any less disappointing. It is something you knew was coming if you were like me and following along on social media as the game played out. It's a lazy and convenient, at best, correlation to make and yet many did so even before the game reached its conclusion.
If you want to make the argument that M'Baye throwing the 'Horns Down' was an indication that he and/or Oklahoma were overconfident and that lead to their downfall then you'll get no argument from me.
If you want to make the argument that this Oklahoma team isn't used to being in the kind of position to be up by 20+ points on anyone this year, let alone their hated rival, and let the moment get the better of them, again you'll get no argument from me.
But if you want to try and make the argument that a stupid, and ultimately meaningless, hand gesture lead to Oklahoma losing this game then, with all due respect, you're an idiot.
What you, or anyone for that matter, should be focusing on coming out of this stunningly horrible loss would be the actual reason Oklahoma lost the game. Their inability to handle the press Texas employed that directly lead to their upset victory. It's something they've struggled with all year and something they can expect every team they play from here on out to use against them.
What you should be asking is not why M'Baye chose to throw the 'Horns Down' when he did, but rather why Oklahoma didn't use him or Romero Osby to break the press instead of trying to force the ball into Sam Grooms' hands. For any number of reasons this strategy makes very little sense:
- While on easily the hottest scoring streak of his OU career, Grooms is historically not a very good free throw shooter. Yes, I realize he's the best ball-handler on the team but forcing the in-bounds pass to him plays into your opponent's hand by putting him on the free throw line.
- You also can't ignore Grooms' struggles, at times, trying to do to much and turning the ball over in the backcourt. Last night was no exception and I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the Oklahoma State game.
- More importantly, in my opinion, is the fact that both M'Baye and Osby are more than capable of competently bringing the ball up when needed. Neither of the men guarding them presented much of a threat to take the ball away from them and with the mismatch they typically present either could have beaten their man down the court to create an odd man advantage for OU.
At the time, being an OU fan, of course I loved it when M'Baye threw the 'Horns Down.' How could you not? In hindsight, it's obviously to sit here and rip the guy for doing it. I won't be jumping on that bandwagon.
Was it a mistake? Yeah, sure. Do I have a problem with him having done it? Nope.
It's also certainly worth pointing out that on the television broadcast you could see Osby visibly upset at the time and he immediately goes up to M'Baye following the timeout that was called shortly thereafter. Osby spoke about it following the game and said something to the effect of him not wanting karma to come back and bite them because of M'Baye's gesture. You can't say he didn't know.
The end result aside, it's a testament to Osby's intelligence and leadership to recognize that at the time and, in the right way, get in his teammate's face about it.
My only problem is with what happened after the fact. If you'll indulge me, I liken what M'Baye did to challenging a guy's manhood. I've got no issue with you (M'Baye) doing it, but you better be ready for what is coming back your way. Most guys aren't going to take very kindly to it and that role was obviously played by Texas on Wednesday night. If you want to punch a guy in the face (i.e. throw the 'Horns Down' on their home court) that's cool, but you better be ready to get punched back. Oklahoma wasn't and Texas knocked their you know what out. It happens.
The silver lining, if you can call it that, being this is the kind of mistake you really tend to make only once. That is unless you enjoy getting punched in the face. Nothing about this team, or Lon Kruger for that matter, has ever given me the impression they like getting punched in the face.
But we won't truly know that until Saturday afternoon where we'll learn a lot about this team's mental fortitude. This is your textbook situation where a loss from the game prior can lead to another if they come in with that mental hangover from Austin.
As for the Texas fans reveling in their victory, you expect them to jump all over the whole 'Horns Down' thing and rip both M'Baye and OU as a result of it. That's fine. Well, it's more sad really given this incident being the high point of their entire basketball season but they won and to the victor go the spoils.
At the end of the day, we should really all just be happy that our lives aren't as pathetic as this guy who took to trolling like the true "professional" he is shortly after the game.
Is Bob Stoops coaching Sooner Hoops? #Chokelahoma— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 28, 2013
Oh, to be that clever. And by clever, I mean d-bag.