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.
SLIDESHOW: OCS Saints travel to Casady
The Oklahoma Christian School Saints built a 5-run lead in the first two innings at Casady Monday afternoon, and held a 5-3 advantage until the wheels fell off in the sixth inning and the Saints gave up six runs en route to a 9-5 loss.
Edmond’s Kropp holds off Cabrera to win in Cordoba
William Kropp, a 24-year-old rookie from Edmond, managed to hold off local favorite Ángel Cabrera to win the 83rd Abierto OSDE del Centro presented by FiberCorp Sunday.
His victory at the Cordoba Golf Club, in Cabrera’s hometown of Villa Allende, was his first in just five career starts on the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
“My plan for the first half of the Tour season was to get adjusted to traveling across the region and playing new courses,” said Kropp, who had finished in a tie for third only three weeks ago in Guatemala. “It’s really a great bonus to win a tournament as important as this one early in the year.”
Kropp finished at 8-under par 276, one shot ahead of the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champion. Cabrera was trying to win the tournament for the ninth time in his career and he was also seeking to become the first three-time champion on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
Edmond residents partake in Boston Marathon
More than 35,000 runners participated in today’s Boston Marathon. Several were from Edmond. Their finishing times and overall place according to results posted by the Boston Athletic Association at baa.org were:
Boyett, Ken: 3:24:21; 7,591
Cherry, Steven: 3:10:27; 4,240
Domina, Christie: 3:50:43; 15,473
Gregg, Gary: 3:20:58; 6,694
Hendrickson, Gina: 3:10:03; 4,152
Judd, Kevin: 3:19:40; 6,374
Pillow, Jonathan: 2:47:53; 775
Rupel, Patrick: 2:59:08; 2,180
Tucker, Noel: 4:13:58; 20,277
Williams, Michael: 3:41:38; 12,905
Edmond North perfect in district soccer standings
The Edmond North Lady Huskies are an untarnished 4-0 in district after smothering Putnam North Thursday 5-nothing with their defense once again.
It was Gia Nellius who broke out with four goals. Nellius was the beneficiary of a pair of assists from Abbey Bright and another from Shanna Rolfs. Nellius booted home one shot unassisted.
Rounding out the Edmond North scoring was a Haley Felix goal.
The Lady Huskies venture to Choctaw Tuesday for a 6 p.m. matchup with the Lady Yellowjackets.
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Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group
Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
“We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
“I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.
UCO’s Schrock earns NFCA Pitcher of Week honor
Central Oklahoma’s Kalynn Schrock has been selected the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Pitcher of the Week, it was announced Wednesday.
The senior left-hander from Choctaw had a dominating performance in the circle last week, going 3-0 with a save and an 0.48 earned run average. She gave up just 10 hits in 29 innings while striking out 32 as opponents hit just .106.
OCU takes confidence into SAC men’s golf championships
Oklahoma City University enters the Sooner Athletic Conference men’s golf championships Monday and Tuesday at Tascosa Golf Club’s LaPaloma Course coming off an historic performance.
In the Oklahoma Baptist Invitational, the Stars shot a program-record 265 in the first round en route to setting OCU records for strokes under par in a 36-hole tournament at 29 on April 7-8 at John Conrad Golf Course in Midwest City.
OCU takes aim at its fifth SAC championship in a row. The Stars won the program’s 17th SAC title in 18 years at Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club. OCU owns 21 league championships, 19 in the SAC.
Wolves claim runner-up crowns
The Edmond Santa Fe boys track team flexed its muscles in the hurdles and distance races while the Lady Wolves used improved performances in the relays as both teams came away from the April 11 Putnam City Invitational with runner-up trophies.
Langston University names new head coach for men's basketball
Langston University has named Stan Holt as head coach for the men’s basketball team.
“We are excited and pleased to welcome Stan Holt — he is young and eager,” said Mike Garrett, Langston athletic director.
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