By JOHN SHINN
There was a lot of sunken shoulders after Oklahoma’s 84-79 overtime loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. There was no sense hiding the disappointment. It was one of the best Bedlam games in the rivalry’s storied history and the Sooners wound up losing it.
Still, the Sooners knew the sun was going to come up on Sunday.
“It hurts to leave here without the win, but by the same token I think we did a lot of things to help us grow in the future,” said OU guard Sam Grooms, who came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points. “That’s what we’re looking forward to. It’s difficult walking out of here because we wanted to get this win.”
A win would have virtually guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid and opened a very realistic path to win the Big 12 title. Both are still plausible for the Sooners (16-8, 7-5 Big 12).
What Bedlam revealed is they can play with just about anybody. The Cowboys are 13-1 on their home floor and the only loss was to No. 5 Gonzaga in December. All OU needed on Saturday was one more basket or one more defensive stop to make it a group.
“Tough loss for sure,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “But it was a really good basketball game. Guys on both teams played their hearts out. It was a big-time battle from start to finish. Guys on both teams made a lot of big-time plays. Defenses were having a tough time getting stops.”
OU’s last possession in regulation was the 35 seconds it would like to have back. The game was tied at 73-all and all of the 13,611 in attendance knew OU wanted to get the ball to Romero Osby, who scored 18 points along with Grooms and Steven Pledger. He didn’t get it until there was four seconds left on the shot clock and he was 20 feet from the basket.
One more basket and Osby would have cemented one of the best Bedlam performances in OU history. He added 15 rebounds and was virtually unstoppable in the second half.
“Ro did such a good job carrying us down the stretch there. We were trying to get him isolated there with some options,” Kruger said. “O-State did a good job of covering it. Ro was terrific, as he’s been all season.”
Nothing is altered because of Saturday’s loss. OU hits the road to face Texas Tech (9-14, 2-10) at 6 p.m., Wednesday and then returns to Lloyd Noble Center at 4 p.m., Saturday to face Baylor (16-9, 7-5).
Win both, and OU cements a .500 record in the conference with four games left. Win both, and it secures a season sweep of the Red Raiders and the Bears, who are currently tied with OU in the conference standings.
Nothing that happened on Saturday deters those possibilities. In fact, they should be bolstered.
“I think we did a lot of things to help us grow in the future,” Grooms said. “That’s what we’re looking forward to. It’s difficult walking out of here because we wanted to get this win.”