In the regular season finale, the Oklahoma Sooners battled valiantly to start the game, but ultimately the effort was not enough to get the job done against Kansas State. The Wildcats were victorious on their senior night, winning 68-53. OU heads into the postseason with an overall record of 19-12, 7-11 in Big 12 play.
Coming into the day, Oklahoma was locked into the No. 7 slot in the Big 12 Championship tournament. Whether that played a part in the lopsided result of this game or not remains to be seen, but nevertheless, the loss should not negatively impact the Sooners when it comes to postseason seeding.
Kristian Doolittle was the lone bright spot on a dull night for the Sooners. The junior forward recorded 14 points, four rebounds and three assists to cap a solid finish to his third regular season.
The Kansas State faithful was up and at ‘em from the jump, acting as a formidable sixth man in Bramlage Coliseum, however, the noise wasn’t enough to keep the experienced Oklahoma team from overcoming the atmosphere and playing steady as a unit on both ends of the court. Then the second portion of the first half happened, despite Doolittle’s 10 points in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Whether it was stifling defense by the Wildcats, or the emotions of senior night peaking at the optimal time, K-State methodically pulled ahead of the Sooners into the break, 32-22.
In the second half, Kansas State’s momentum from the first continued to boil over, jumping even further ahead with a 10-1 run and eventually going up by as many as 29 points. Aside from Doolittle, the performance from the team was a more than a little disheartening before this one got out of hand. Playing hard wasn’t necessarily the issue, rather it was execution. Still, coming into the night, this one had all the signs of a complete buzz saw waiting to happen. This K-State team in Manhattan, on senior night, with a chance to claim a share of the Big 12 title was going to be tough for any squad to handle, and the Wildcats certainly played like everything was on the line. Got to give credit where it’s due.
The big drama of the night came with roughly four minutes remaining in the contest. Sophomore forward Brady Manek was charged with a somewhat controversial flagrant-2 foul, forcing him to be ejected from the game. It was unclear if the Harrah, OK native intentionally threw an elbow into a K-State player’s neck area, or if the contact was inadvertent, but there was some physical basketball plays being made on both sides all night long. Manek was noticeably emotional as he walked off the court with a towel covering his face.
Up next, Oklahoma will enter the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 7 seed beginning on Wednesday, March 13th. The Sooners’ first round opponent will be tenth-seeded West Virginia. OU split the two regular season meetings with the Mountaineers, as each team won on its respective home court. Lon Kruger’s squad hasn’t won a conference tournament game since the first round of the 2015-16 season, so this should be a great opportunity to finally advance to Day 2 in Kansas City.
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