Eighty-eight minutes is all it could take for this to be one of the “best” nights in recent Oklahoma sports history. In 40 minutes the Oklahoma Sooners could make their first trip to the Final Four since the Kelvin Sampson era, in 48 Minutes, the Thunder could beat the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this year. Honestly, if the latter doesn’t happen, then there is no hope for Oklahoma City in the playoffs.
In OU’s case their facing an Oregon team who has won 11 straight including an impressive 82-68 blasting of Duke in the Sweet 16. The Ducks much like Texas and LSU are are an athletic team that is going to present some matchup nightmares for the Sooners. In the most comical moment of this year’s tournament, CBS used a rejoin as an Oregon highlight film. In case you missed it, it was 30 seconds of nothing, but dunks. As good as the Ducks are, OU won’t be sacred; The Sooners are looking every bit the part of a Final Four team especially after gutting Texas A&M on Thursday.
Jordan Woodard scored 39 in his last two games, Khadeem Lattin and Ryan Spangler combined for 20 vs. the Aggies and Buddy Hield is proving that no matter how you guard him he’s going to get his. It’s the best Lon Kruger’s team has looked since before Big 12 play. You also have the bonus that Oklahoma never seems phased when things aren’t going as planned. A&M made runs start of the game and the second half; OU handled it like seasons pros that knew the eventual outcome. Expect some tense moments, but a not so bold prediction, says by eight o’clock you can buy your Final Four gear just in time for work Monday.
As for the Thunder this one easy. According to ESPN, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are all out. Classic Greg Popovich, the second night of a back to back (one of those on the road) sit everyone and show us all that this game does not matter. The Spurs at worst have the second seed locked up, so there is nothing to gain. A win would be gravy for San Antonio, but for OKC, a loss would be devastating. The Thunder are riding a six-game win streak and have some of us believing that they are peaking at the right time. Not only are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook adding to their historic seasons, since his return Dion Waiters is contributing on the offensive end. The bench as a whole is finally living up to the preseason hype, and there is a sense that Oklahoma City might live up to expectations after all. So there can be no setbacks. A victory for Oklahoma City over a Spurs team which has conceded the game won’t make believers of those who think the Thunder have underachieved, but a loss will make for a long Monday of even more doubt.
Tonight will give us some reason to celebrate it will also give us reason to be hopeful. Two wins that’s not much to ask. See you on Monday, at the water cooler ready to fist bump.