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February 2, 2013
Scoring drought dooms Sooners
That's how long the Sooners played against No. 18 Kansas State without scoring a single bucket, and that's a hard way to win a 40-minute basketball game. The Sooners suffered that drought from the 6:26 mark of the first half until 15:46 mark of the second when the Wildcats were vulnerable, when Bruce Weber's men couldn't separate themselves from am OU team in a funk by more than seven points.
Because Kansas State didn't put real distance between itself and the Sooners, Oklahoma was still within striking distance down 50-48 with 54.5 left to play in the game after senior point guard Sam Grooms nailed a 3-pointer after double-clutching from the top of the key.
After the Sooners tied the game, Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez was fouled with 5.6 seconds remaining and sent to the charity stripe. He hit the first, then the second, and the Wildcats secured a 52-50 victory against Oklahoma (14-6, 5-3 Big 12). The loss was just the second the Sooners have allowed at home and the first since December 18.
"Tough game from start to finish," Oklahoma men's basketball coach Lon Kruger said. "Kansas State did a great job. I thought they were into us and dictated for most of the night with their defense."
It was a win OU needed after a big win earlier in the week, but Grooms didn't think Oklahoma negated the win it earned against Baylor last Wednesday night. However, he admitted the work isn't over for this OU ball club with just over a month left in the regular season.
"We made progress, but we still have work to do to be a top 25 team, and that's what we want to be," Grooms said.
Kansas State and Oklahoma were intent on staying in the Big 12 regular season title race, and today Oklahoma State had done them each a favor by knocking off league power and No. 2-ranked Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse just minutes before tipoff. The Wildcats and Sooners might not have known it then, but the winner of this game is one game closer to the Jayhawks in the standings.
The Wildcats (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) walked into Lloyd Noble Center with the intention of earning the double over the Sooners after it was doubled up last season by Oklahoma. They dispatched the Sooners in January with sound shooting from 3-point range and rabid defense, and they seemed intent on sticking with that game plan early Saturday afternoon.
"Since I got here they talked about Oklahoma got 'em," Weber said. "They were able to get 'em back this year."
The red seats and crimson crowd didn't seem to perturb the Wildcats from treating Lloyd Noble like it was Bramlage Coliseum, either. While hitting 12-of-28 shots in the first half, including 4-of-10 from 3-point land, Kansas State took control of the game early, albeit with a soft grip and a slim 28-23 lead after the first 20 minutes.
The Wildcat guards gave Kansas State the edge in the first half. They hit 4-of-10 3s, while the Sooners managed just one made 3-pointer on eight shots from beyond the arc and converting just 9-of-25 shots in the half.
Oklahoma managed to stay in the first half by outrebounding the Wildcats 15-19 and earning nine points off the five turnovers Kansas State committed. Junior forward Amath M'Baye and senior forward Romero Osby combined for 13 first half points and six boards. Osby finished the night as OU's leading scorer with 13 points and seven boards.
"We're still a work in progress, and we're still trying to get better," Osby said. "We had a good game against Baylor. We got the win. But you know Kansas State is a really good team. They're a top 20 team, legitimate top 20 team coming in here."
The Sooners managed to hit just 10 shots in the second half and just three 3-pointers for the night. M'Baye finished the night with just the seven points he scored in the first half, missing all four of his attempts from the floor in the second half.
Tonight served as a reality check for the Sooners. Against ranked teams, top flight teams, teams that will play in the NCAA tournament next month, Oklahoma is lacking a touch of quality. Kruger's rebuilding project in Norman isn't over yet, and he was the first to admit so.
"We realized today that we've got a long way to go and nothing wrong with that," he said. "This group will keep working at it. They've done a great job. They've made a lot of progress. Today's a reminder that we've got a significant ways to go."