NORMAN – Eddie Sutton and Billy Tubbs sat in floor seats Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. Even shared a pre-game chat.
Then the beleaguered Bedlam basketball teams staged a tribute game to those landmark coaches who changed basketball in this great state.
Sutton defense ruled the first half. BillyBall offense reigned in the second half. And the Sooners produced the better brand of both.
OU bounced OSU 77-64 in a bragging-rights game that won't change the course of either dismal season but ended up reasonably high on the entertainment scale.
The Sooners blew out the Cowboys early and late. But in the middle, these teams almost lived up to the series name. Kooky, I suppose, but not atypical for teams that really haven't figured out who they are.
OU's defense embarrassed the Cowboys in the first half. There really is no other way to say it.
The Sooners led 30-12 at halftime; OSU made just four of 24 shots in the first half.
The toughness that Lon Kruger says his team has been lacking most definitely was not lacking Wednesday night.
“We had the defensive intensity every possession,” said OU's C.J. Washington. “Kept them out of transition. And we were ready. That's a big key for us. So many possessions, we're not ready.”
The Sooners smothered OSU sharpshooter Keiton Page with Cameron Clark's initial hounding and perimeter switches. Fresh off a 40-point game against Texas, Page made just one of eight shots in the first half.
You wondered if the Cowboys would get to 30. Wondered if that bus trip back to Stillwater would be the longest 89 miles in the history of motor transport.
“I don't think we could have gotten any more passive than we were” in the first half, said OSU coach Travis Ford. “They were physically tough on us. They took away our first and second options, and stood around after that.”
Then the Cowboys scored 27 points the first seven minutes of the second half. That's a pace not seen on this court since the Tubbs days.
State turned aggressive. Attacked the rim and swished the deep ball. Page got hot – he finished with 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting. Markel Brown played much more determined; the Cowboys are learning that for any kind of success, they have to have Brown heavily involved.
This was a little like those blowout OSU losses at Kansas and Missouri, where the Cowboys were jackhammered in the first half, only to come out and play a representative second half. Except these Sooners aren't KU or Mizzou.