The Oklahoma Sooners almost added an exclamation point to their big basketball week, but couldn’t close out a tight contest at the hostile Gallagher-Iba Arena and dropped another heartbreaker to the OSU Cowboys, 96-92.
The loss moves OU to 3-11 in Big 12 despite a huge night from unexpected star Rashard Odomes and a 55% shooting performance. It was State’s first Bedlam sweep since 2004.
Longtime Cowboy Phil Forte was an early problem for the Sooners, draining his team’s first 3-ball to put OSU up 10-5 a few minutes in. McGusty went out quickly with two personal fouls, but the Sooners were able to hang tough without their best player on the floor and went to the first media timeout down 10-7 despite shooting just 25% through the opening minutes. Khadeem Lattin’s defiant block set the tone for a solid start on defense.
OU’s offense settled down in the face of OSU’s crushing half-court press and found a rhythm after the break. The Sooners started hitting their shots almost every time down the floor, feeding off the enemy crowd, and the three-pointers in particular started falling for OU. Dante Buford proved an unexpected early factor with two threes and a team-high 8 points by the halfway point of the period.
Kameron McGusty, too, had a solid start. His fadeaway three while getting fouled gave OU a 30-21 lead at the 9-minute mark, and he put up 8 points in just 8 minutes while battling through foul trouble.
Forte continued to hound the Sooners, though, finishing the half with 15 points and three made 3s. Still, Oklahoma answered every Cowboys salvo. Odomes got in on the action and finished the half on a tear, nailing his first long ball of the season to make OU 6-9 behind the ark with 3:51 left.
Odomes turned into the night’s biggest story, ending the half with a team-high 13 points and 7 rebounds. The Sooners went to the locker room after an impressive offensive performance, shooting 57% and leading 53-44. A late OSU run made the halftime score closer than it could have been, but the Sooners were feeling confident.
Oklahoma State ramped up the pressure to start the second half. The Sooners stayed hot from the floor, but the problem became just getting shots up — OU had turned the ball over six times by the time five minutes had gone by. But the Sooners got hot on the offensive boards and kept their defense solid to keep a slim lead.
The Cowboys moved to a zone defense around the 13-minute mark, having trimmed the OU lead to just two. But Jordan Shepherd’s three gave Oklahoma a 70-65 margin at the under-12 timeout — he was the seventh different Sooner to have hit a three, and the ninth to score.
Oklahoma began to build its margin again. First it was an and-one bucket from — yet again — Odomes. Then Odomes pushed it to a 10-point game by finishing a fast break off a steal on the opposite end.
At 7:47 to go, Oklahoma still led 82-73. The Stillwater crowd was waiting for a moment to erupt, but play stoppages and consistent Sooners answers kept them relatively tame.
That is, until Forte’s three cut the game to just 4 points a minute later. His NBA-range dagger put the Cowboys on a 9-0 run.
The Sooners and Cowboys traded buckets — and fouls — for another several minutes. OU’s hot shooting just didn’t slow down despite the perceived momentum swings, and Odomes kept OU in it with a scoring flurry, building his 13-point night to a 27-point monster performance by the final media timeout. He finished with 29.
But Oklahoma State proved too much in the final minutes, even with some questionable officiating working against them (even I’ll admit that a late call to bail Odomes out of shot-clock trouble was a little ticky-tack).
Jawun Evens turned into Oklahoma’s worst nightmare down the stretch. He scored 16 consecutive Cowboys points in the final five minutes of the game, driving to the rim, getting to the line and getting hot at exactly the right moment. The Stillwater faithful — who were raucous, rowdy and excellent all night, as the commentators were fond of pointing out — finally had reason to truly explode as the Cowboys dissected an OU team that couldn’t find a way on one of its best offensive nights of the season.
Evans, Forte and Jeffrey Carroll all finished with more than 20 points. Odomes led OU in rebounds as well as points, with 10. Jordan Shepherd got serious playing time, 29 minutes, and secured 5 assists.
Lattin started the game but finished with just 13 minutes, as the apparent transition away from him continues.
The Sooners return to action on the road against a top-10 Baylor squad at 6 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.
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