By John Helsley
The Sooners didn’t play Monday night and won’t play again until Saturday, at Texas. Still, it was a big Big Monday for OU.
Thanks to Pittsburgh.
Pitt’s 76-68 upset of No. 1 Connecticut provided answers and opportunity for the Sooners.
With the top spot in the polls now available, all that stands in the way of the Sooners moving to No. 1 is that trip to Austin. We’re not here to say getting past the Longhorns will be easy, but it doesn’t shape up as the feared road game it once did. The Horns have been struggling, losing by 15 to A&M Monday night. Crowds are down at The Drum, too. While rooting and ranting against the Sooners might make it a must-see event Saturday, we’re guessing not.
In UConn’s loss, center Hasheem Thabeet managed just five points (on 1-of-5 shooting) and four rebounds. Maybe that’ll change the tune of Dick Vitale, who had suddenly taken to praising Thabeet as the Player of the Year in college basketball. C’mon, Dickie V, why no love for big Blake Griffin? You snubbed him on your preseason All-American teams and you’re overlooking him now. And that’s hard to do when the kid’s going for 40 and 23 in a Big 12 game.
The Sooners, too, should learn a thing from Pitt in the event they meet up with UConn and Thabeet later on. The 7-3 center had been a matchup nightmare on the defensive end, but Pitt’s DeJuan Blair took it to Thabeet with a new tact. Rather than go over Thabeet, Blair went at him with power and force — hello, Blake Griffin – resulting in 22 points, 23 rebounds and a foul out of the Huskies post man.
“I did a little research,” Blair said, “and it you go against a shot-blocker, you’ve got to body him up and get him off balance so he can’t jump. The only time he blocked my shot, I was fading away and I got the ball right back and went right into his chest and got the and-one.”
Blake Griffin, take notes.
Dickie V, take notes.
Sooner fans, take note — you could be cheering the nation’s No. 1 team by the next Big Monday.