Sometimes it sucks to be an OU basketball fan. The Sooners seem to find a way to break your heart. Especially when it involves overcoming the Kansas Jayhawks. Saturday was no exception. The No. 3 Sooners could have been in a tie with West Virgina for first place in the Big 12; all they had to do was beat Kansas. Kansas – who walked away with a 106-109 triple overtime win in January. Kansas – winner of 11 straight conference titles. Kansas – who prevented OU from winning a National Championship in 1988. On Saturday, the Jayhawks kept Lon Kruger from going undefeated at home and put the Sooners hopes of winning a Big 12 title in peril.
Sophmore Devtone’ Graham stuck to Buddy Hield like glue, forcing Hield to go 0 of 6 from the field in the first half. Hield torched KU for 46 in the first meeting, and Bill Self was not about to let that happen again. “I thought the best way to play is underneath him, and Devonte’ or Frank (Mason III) has to do that. Our deal was when it gets under 10, and nobody’s in foul trouble we’ll move Frank to him, and Devonte’ wanted the challenge.”
Buddy Buckets would end up with with 24 points, and he earned every single one. Isaiah Cousins, who was nowhere to be found in Lawerence, was red hot in Norman, pouring in 21. Still it wasn’t enough. Ryan Spangler and Khadeem Lattin gave OU only 9 points, and when Kansas needed something big, Graham answered the call. Graham finished the game with 27 points, leading all scorers.
Saturday’s loss wasn’t the end of Oklahoma’s Big 12 title hopes. But with trips to Morgantown and Austin on the horizon, things just got a heck of a lot harder. OU could still make a run in the NCAA tournament,
and being swept by the Jayhawks would be a merely a road bump in a great season.
What’s troubling is that these Sooners were supposed to have too much experience not to close out games. They did it with Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State (on the road) and West Virgina. Against Kansas and K-State, OU fell back into old habits, and Buddy Hield looks like he’s doing too much of the work. No rest for the broken hearted as Lubbock awaits Tuesday night. As Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.”