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.
Santa Fe thwarts Norman North offense
The Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves added another plaque to their collection and took one more step toward a gold ball Thursday night.
Edmond took down a feisty Norman North squad 64-47 at Choctaw High School to win the Class 6A west area tournament and advance to the state tournament that begins March 13.
“We’re going to enjoy that for tomorrow and now we’ve got to go find who we play on Saturday and we’re going to focus,” said Paul Bass, Santa Fe head coach. “It’s one game at a time. We’re 24-1, but that really doesn’t matter because now we’re in the third tournament of the year for us. This is the one that’s most important — get to state and try to get that gold ball.”
SLIDESHOW: 6 from Edmond, Deer Creek are state champs
Edmond North and Deer Creek wrestlers won 6 titles at the state championships Saturday night at State Fair Arena.
Defensive battle falls in favor of Deer Creek
A pair of defensive teams coming out on each other, both 20-5 Deer Creek and 20-5 Collinsville played to a 20-19 score after three periods with the Lady Antlers on top Thursday night at Owasso High School in a Class 5A area championship game.
The final panel wasn’t much different, as Deer Creek used two mammoth defensive plays by Dakota Vann to stave off the Cardinals 31-28 and advance to the state tournament beginning March 13.
“Last week at practice, I told the girls that the road to get back to the state tournament was that somebody was going to have to make a play,” defending state champion Deer Creek coach Totsy Manning said after the victory over Collinsville. “I told the girls to go out and make a good play.”
Vann, a 5-10 junior, did just that — twice.
Bartlesville’s 6-2 star forward Hailey Tucker averaged over 22 points a game for the Lady Bruins this year.
But not with Edmond Memorial’s Elise Wyatt on her.
Thursday night in a Class 6A area consolation contest at Sapulpa High School, Wyatt and the Lady Bulldogs ended Bartlesville’s season and stayed alive in the high school playoffs with a 48-42 triumph. Memorial will tip off with Putnam North — a team that beat the Lady ‘Dogs at the final horn in the semifinals of the Bruce Gray Invitational — at 1:30 Saturday at Catoosa High School in a do-or-die contest to make it to the state tournament.
5 memorable college hoops tourney buzzer beaters
It's March, which means the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. But before March Madness takes hold, the conference tournaments, which get under way this week, often provide their own share of exciting finishes. Here are five memorable buzzer beaters from conference tournament play.
USA sitting volleyball hires Kraeer as UCO-based mens sitting team head coach
The University of Central Oklahoma-based U.S. mens sitting volleyball team welcomes a new head coach, Quinton Kraeer. The university is the official training site for both the mens and womens sitting volleyball teams.
Kraeer will take over the mens program after serving as an assistant for the last several months. He brings nine years of volleyball coaching experience to the team and has served as a pipeline assistant for both the mens and womens teams since 2008.
2014 Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series coming to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
The Oklahoma City RedHawks have announced the schedule for the fourth annual Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series, set to begin this week at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The series begins with three games Saturday and will culminate Saturday, April 5 during the Mayor’s Cup, featuring a triple-header between the three high schools from Edmond and Moore.
The Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series gives teams and their fans from around the state a chance to have a “professional” experience complete with the use of batting cages, dugouts and state-of-the-art scoreboards.
Sterling Fans 9 in 11-2 victory over Washburn
Jared Sterling went the distance against Washburn (4-4, 4-4 MIAA) striking out nine and walking just two as Central Oklahoma (9-3, 5-3 MIAA) defeated the Ichabods, 11-2, on a dreary Saturday afternoon at Wendell Simmons Field.
Sterling retired the first seven hitters he faced as he scattered five hits over nine innings. Both runs were unearned in the fifth as both runners reached on an error. When the Ichabods did have a runner on base, Sterling twice induced an inning-ending double play.
The Ichabods leadoff man reached base only twice, once in the fifth via an error and a leadoff single in the ninth. The runner in the ninth was part of a double play that ended the game as Sterling gave an emphatic fist pump.
Deer Creek sweeps home regional
Lady Antler Whitney Jones stole an outlet pass with just less than 25 seconds to play in regulation with the game tied at 51 Saturday afternoon at Deer Creek High School in the regional championship.
After a time-out, Antler Dakota Vann drove to the goal, drew a foul in the process and converted a pair of free throws as fifth-rated Deer Creek went on to defeat Del City 55-51 for the regional crown. The Lady Antlers, 20-5, play at Owasso for the area championship against Collinsville at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with the winner advancing to the state tournament. The Lady Cardinals ripped McAlester 66-30 in their regional championship.
Remington Park announces new season’s events
Remington Park officials released the lineup Monday for its American Quarter Horse and Mixed-Breed season, which kicks off Friday and runs through June 1. The 2014 American Quarter Horse and Mixed-Breed season features 50 race dates and many special events.
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