OU basketball: Sooners are improved since first meeting with Missouri

OU point guard Sam Grooms: “They didn't get our best game. We feel good about playing them again...this time, we get them on our floor. It's been a month. We're a lot better.”
by Michael Baldwin Published: February 5, 2012
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Oklahoma's first meeting against Missouri was a complete disaster.

The Tigers' 87-49 win in a Big 12 men's basketball opener was OU's most lopsided conference loss in the league's era.

Even more telling, it was OU's most lopsided loss in the Mizzou series since a 66-22 embarrassment 90 years ago.

Undefeated at the time, Missouri led this season's first matchup by as many as 42 points. The Tigers were beyond hot. Mizzou was shooting close to 70 percent for the game midway through the second half.

The rematch is Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners are improved. But are they improved enough to have any chance of avenging the lopsided loss against the No. 4 team in the country?

“They didn't get our best game,” said OU point guard Sam Grooms. “We weren't ready to take that step up (in conference play) like we should have. We feel good about playing them again . . .this time, we get them on our floor. It's been a month. We're a lot better.”

So is Missouri, which has posted road wins at Baylor and Iowa State and rallied to beat Kansas on Saturday night to tie the Jayhawks and Bears for the conference lead. A month before the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers (21-2) are a candidate for a No. 1 seed.

“We're more ready on each possession to compete for results,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “But it's not like Missouri has played the last month and gotten worse. They're playing well, a top five team in the country.”

OU assistant coach Steven Henson has experienced dramatic head-to-head turnarounds.

Four years ago at UNLV, Henson an assistant on Kruger's staff, watched the Runnin' Rebels romp past BYU 70-41. In the rematch a month later, the Cougars won by 26 points.

Henson's most memorable turnaround was in 1988 as Kansas State's starting point guard.

Purdue crushed the Wildcats 101-72 five days before Christmas. Three months later, K-State avenged the loss with a 73-70 upset win over the No. 1-seeded Boilermakers in a Sweet 16 showdown as the 'Cats advanced to the Elite Eight.

“On the flip side, when you beat somebody that easily, the danger is you think it's going to be that easy again. It's human nature,” Henson said. “Sometimes you forget how hard you worked or how well you executed. Purdue was better than us, but we played really well that day.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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