STILLWATER- Time is running out for Oklahoma’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
With just five games remaining in the regular season, the Sooners needed a win over their in-state rivals on the road.
Instead, the Oklahoma State Cowboys out hustled the Sooners from the jump, notching an 83-66 win.
The win snapped a three-game Bedlam losing streak for the Cowboys.
Oklahoma falls to 16-11 (6-8 in Big 12 play) on the season. The Sooners now have just four games left in the regular season to impress the selection committee.
Here are three takeaways from Oklahoma’s third straight loss:
“Big Three” wilts for the Sooners:
Surprisingly, the lone Sooner standout against the Cowboys was Austin Reaves.
Reaves led all Sooners with 22 points, including 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Oklahoma entered the bonus with 12 and a half minutes left in the game, but Reaves was the only one able to take advantage and get to the free throw line consistently.
But Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek both had games to forget.
Doolittle started to get things going with 10 minutes left in the game, but then poor shot selection and ball handling got the best of him. During a crucial stretch of the game, Doolittle led the Sooners to empty possessions on three straight trips, allowing the Cowboys to kill off the game with an 11-0 run.
For his part, Manek was held to his lowest scoring output of the season.
In 30 minutes of action, Manek only logged two points on 1-of-8 shooting. The Cowboys played great defensively, and it started with eliminating Manek’s catch-and-shoot opportunities from behind the arc.
Oklahoma has to have good games from two of Doolittle, Manek and Reaves to excel, and they didn’t get enough production to hang with Oklahoma State.
Cowboys dominated the paint:
Oklahoma State was as good as anyone has been all year at exploiting a size advantage down low.
Outscoring the Sooners 36-22 in the paint, the Cowboys were able to consistently work the ball down low and not have to rely on the deep ball.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Oklahoma State still managed to drain 9-of-18 threes, a place where the Cowboys have struggled for most of the season.
The success for Oklahoma State down low nullified Oklahoma’s free throw advantage, powering the Cowboys to a big win.
Sooners trending the wrong direction:
This was a must-win game for Oklahoma, simple as that.
Now the losers of three straight, the Sooners’ once strong tournament case looks shakier by the day.
The road ahead isn’t any easier for Oklahoma, as they will host Texas Tech before hitting the road to face West Virginia.
The Sooners may be playing themselves into a corner. If they can’t take three of the next four, Oklahoma may need a strong showing in the Big 12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
The first opportunity to steal an upset comes Tuesday night when the Sooners will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders from the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Tip-off is at 8 p.m., but pre-game coverage will start at 7:30 p.m. on 107.7 The Franchise.