Oklahoma Sooners

OSU basketball: Waters, Cowboys excited for season’s first Bedlam matchup

OSU basketball: Waters, Cowboys excited for season’s first Bedlam matchup

Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III (21) moves past Iowa State guard Marial Shayok during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

STILLWATER – When Norman native Lindy Waters has played the hometown Sooners, Oklahoma State hasn’t lost. He makes sure to remind those close to him about it, too.

The junior captain on the Cowboy basketball team has played in four of the five Bedlam games the rivals have faced off in since he came to OSU. The Cowboys are 4-1 in those matchups, the lone blemish coming last January, when now-Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and forward Brady Manek torched OSU’s defense and the Lloyd Noble Center along with it.

The one catalyst who wasn’t involved in the game? Waters, who missed it because of a concussion. Saturday, he’ll get to play in his fifth Bedlam game, when OSU travels to Norman to battle Oklahoma at 1 p.m.

“It’s Bedlam,” Waters said. “It’s our biggest rivalry. We’ve got this circled on our schedule every single year. It’s just like any other game. But this one, it doesn’t count more, but it means a lot more.”

OSU (6-7 overall, 0-1 Big 12) won the final two matchups last season, including an 83-81 overtime thriller in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

However, only three players who played during last season’s matchups remain on the 2018-19 squad: Waters, Cameron McGriff and Thomas Dziagwa. Trey Reeves didn’t get in while Michael Weathers and Curtis Jones were sitting out because of NCAA transfer rules. Additionally, OSU’s five freshmen who are on scholarship aren’t from the state of Oklahoma. Walk-on Luke Major of Edmond and Reeves are the other Cowboys, along with Waters, who hails from Oklahoma.

OSU coach Mike Boynton said the Bedlam rivalry is underrated nationally. He cited how competitive most games have been during his tenure. Boynton stressed it’s important to get players who haven’t participated in the game before to realize how pivotal it is.

“None of our freshmen are from the state of Oklahoma,” Boynton said. “They don’t quite understand it, but we’ve tried to set a tone in their minds. On the scoreboard, it will count as a win or loss, but it means more. We don’t shy away from that. It means something in recruiting, it means something to our fans and to our former players, so it means something to us.”

Boynton admitted some players don’t understand what this game means until they play in it. He and the captains are being proactive beforehand to try and prevent a slow start.

The Sooners (11-2, 0-1) fell to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, but they also faced a difficult nonconference schedule to begin the year. Both losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents, and their starting lineup features two grad transfers, Aaron Calixte and Miles Reynolds, and senior Christian James, who averages 17.4 points per contest.

The grizzled Sooners present a challenge to the young, pesky Cowboys looking to find their niche. Waters said his team’s confidence remains high despite a slow start.

He’s looking forward to getting back on the court. Against Oklahoma, he has a chance to continue earning bragging rights to his friends at home who Waters said always pester him for donning orange and black.

His friends aren’t the only motivator, though. He said the Cowboys are close to figuring things out.

“I thought we did a lot of good things (against) Iowa State,” Waters said. “We just needed to finish a little bit better around the rim, get to the free-throw line a little bit more, foul a little bit less and execute a little bit better. I thought we did a lot better executing just small details.

“We’re right around the corner.”

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