Just maybe, this is the one that finally takes. Maybe, this time it’s different.
Before the season began, second-year Sooner coach Lon Kruger welcomed NCAA tournament expectations. Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center, his team put on a Bedlam performance that reinforced the notion.
Not for the first time, because winning in Morgantown, W.V. eight days ago was no small thing.
Saturday, though, was bigger.
Saturday, Oklahoma was led by a freshman, Buddy Hield, as much as anybody else.
Saturday, Amath M’Baye came up with three straight baskets when the Sooners needed them, so maybe he’s finally on to something, too.
Saturday, a crowd of almost 9,000 — no, not what Bedlam used to draw, but a whole lot better than anything’s been in a good long while — cheered almost lustily, desperate to watch something old, like great Sooner basketball, become new again. And with a 77-68 victory, the Sooners delivered, sending the fans home happy, quite possibly looking forward to the next chance to come watch.
So OU’s back?
Perhaps not yet, but it’s a whole lot closer. It’s a whole lot closer and building, too. Nobody wants the embarrassment of prematurely predicting the Sooners’ matriculation, but this has to be close to what everybody’s been looking for.
“They made plays, they played harder,” Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown said. “They did what they had to do to get the win.”
They did, but there was even more to Brown’s answer than that on Bedlam Saturday, because it referenced a particular point in the game, the moments after Le’Bryan Nash canned two free throws to bring the Pokes within a bucket, 52-50, with 9:34 remaining, when OU had let a 14-point lead dwindle to a measly two, waking echoes of so many games last season when Kruger’s first Sooner team would be in good shape until it wasn’t, almost always in the second half, before losing going away.
So Steven Pledger came down and hit a 3-pointer. Bang. Then Brown answered with two free throws to make it a three-point game. Then Pledger was fouled trying to hit another 3-pointer and hit all his free throws.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Never again was OSU within a basket.
Yes, there was more.
There was Hield, who looks like the first Sooner freshman to graduate beyond rookie status, making big play after big play: turning nothing into something with a nifty alley-oop dish to Romero Osby to beat the first-half buzzer, a baseline drive to open the second half the way the first one ended and a falling-down, hand-in-face 3-pointer that followed Pledger’s three free throws that kept the good times rolling.
Then M’Baye made certain the Pokes were done, making a six-point game a nine-point game with a 3-pointer that put OU up 66-57 with 5:36 remaining, followed by a layup on a dish from Sam Grooms, followed by an alley-oop slam that made it 70-57 with 4 minutes to play, also assisted by Grooms.
M’Baye was asked about his personal seven-point run, but he disagreed with the premise.
“That seven-point stretch wasn’t mine, it was the team’s,” he said. “I thought the team did a great job.”
It’s just want you want to hear from one of the newcomers who’s taken a previous starter’s spot, and M’Baye is one of three starters in that boat. Because you want a humble team and a team that gets along well and the Sooners seem to have that going for them, too.
They’ve got Texas Tech at home next, and only a big letdown should rob them from victory there. Then they’re at Kansas State, OU won’t be favored but it’s winnable. Then Texas back home and the Longhorns are a mess.
It seems like the start of something. And like the fans might even be getting back on board, too.
Saturday was a good day for Sooner basketball.
Just maybe, this is the one that finally takes. Maybe, this time it’s different.
OSU clears field for Bedlam game Saturday
Oklahoma State University crews are clearing snow from Boone Pickens Stadium to make sure the field and stands are ready for Saturday’s Bedlam Rivalry football game, Associate Athletic Director/Media Relations Gavin Lang said.
No. 6 OSU hosts No. 20 Oklahoma. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday.
OSU crews started removing the snow Friday morning. The process is expected to continue through Friday afternoon.
Two UCO football players named All-Region
Central Oklahoma running back Joshua Birmingham and wide receiver Marquez Clark both earned first-team recognition on the Daktronics All-Super Region Three Team that was released today, with Clark also claiming second-team honors at kick returner.
First-team honorees on the four all-region teams selected around the country are now eligible for Daktronics All-America selection, with those teams to be announced Dec. 17.
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Bulldogs use extra period in conquest of Norman North
Defense and Kristian Doolittle drawing fouls aided Edmond Memorial to a 53-48 win in overtime at Norman North Tuesday night.
“It was a total team effort,” Bulldog head coach Shane Cowherd said about the triumph. “We had great play from Jacob Essman on the glass and Kristian Doolittle who drew foul after key foul.”
Down the stretch, Memorial’s Taylor Hicks hit some huge free throws to contribute to the team win. Hicks led the ‘Dogs with 14 points, Essman added 11 and Doolittle finished with nine.
“It was a very solid win for us,” Cowherd added. “Norman North is very talented.
Football playoffs moved back a week
With the primary concern of the safety and welfare of participants, coaches, administrators and fans, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) has postponed all state football playoff games one full week.
Oklahoma State University has served as a gracious host for the past four years for Classes 6A through A, and their understanding of the need to insure safe travel for the schools helped the OSSAA to make the determination. We also extend our gratitude to Tulsa University and their administrative staff for making themselves available to our member schools.
Lady Huskies start out in win column
The Edmond North Lady Huskies stepped out on the right foot Tuesday night, staving off visiting Stillwater 70-64 in the first game of the 2013-14 season.
“We kept our composure and continued to be aggressive,” said North head coach Karlie Free. “Stillwater attempted to apply some pressure with a full-court press, but we handled it and had kids step up and hit free throws down the stretch.”
Big baskets in the final period came from a pair of up-and-coming freshmen as 5-7 Lauren Koenig and 5-7 Emma Ledbetter came through in the clutch to keep the Huskies on top. The rookie duo each hit double-figures, scoring 10 points each.
Wolfpack swarms Millers in third quarter
After a 36-36 deadlock at intermission with Yukon Tuesday night, the Edmond Santa Fe boys jelled as a defense in the third period to pull away from the Millers 78-66 at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
“We didn’t come out and do a very good job defensively the whole night,” said Wolves coach Lenny Hatchett after the opening-night victory. “It was mainly because Yukon did a great job of playing smart and patient. We did come out in the second half and play more as a team, but we have to do a better job of putting four quarters together — we just played better team defense in the third quarter.”
In the third, the Wolfpack took the stanza handily by a 20-7 margin.
Wolf Curran Scott exploded for 29 points, hitting a perfect 15-of-15 from the charity stripe. He was ensued by teammate Daron Mims’ 16 points.
Santa Fe will host 15th Street foe Edmond Memorial Friday night weather permitting.
YMCA spring sports registration nears
Registration for YMCA spring sports will run from Dec. 17 through Jan. 24 for volleyball (ages 8-15), track (5-14) and soccer (3-14) at the Rankin and the new Mitch Park YMCA located at 1501 W. Covell Road.
For the Rankin YMCA, call 348-9622 or visit www.ymcaokc.org.
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UCO men rout OCU
Seth Heckart scored eight points during a 22-6 run early in the second half that put Central Oklahoma back in control and the Bronchos went on to roll over Oklahoma City 85-63 Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House on the second day of the UCO Classic.
The Stars had trimmed a 14-point first-half deficit to four early in the second half before Heckart scored five straight points to ignite the big scoring spurt that ended with UCO holding a 20-point cushion and the Bronchos coasted in from there.
It was the fourth straight win for Central, which improved to 6-1 in finishing off a two-game sweep in the weekend event.
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