KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeff Capel was surprised when he heard the news that Baylor star Perry Jones III was ineligible for the Big 12 Tournament.
Surprised, but not sympathetic. Join the club, Baylor.
Capel's beleaguered Sooners routed the Bears 84-67 Wednesday night and offered a sliver of hope that OU basketball could emerge from its two-year funk.
Sure, the loss of Jones, a wondrous 6-foot-11 freshman expected to go top-five in the NBA Draft, hurt Baylor. Jones was benched by the NCAA, something about loans his mother received from an AAU coach, before Jones got to Baylor.
But two things about that.
1. The Sooners kicked Baylor all over the Sprint Center, leading by as much as 19 in the first half and 25 in the second half before winning by 17. Jones doesn't make a 17-point difference.
“It sucks for their team, but we attacked with the same gameplan,” said OU point guard Carl Blair.
2. Funny money cost Jones one game? Funny money cost the Sooners Tiny Gallon for a full season.
Picture Gallon on this OU squad, especially with the imported Blair producing like he did against Baylor: 14 points, 11 assists, six rebounds.
Capel has said Gallon, the 6-foot-9 skilled center, wouldn't have left OU after last season, had he not been implicated in receiving $3,000 from a Tampa financier. The Sooners were no innocent bystanders; phone records linked Capel assistant Oronde Taliaferro to the Tampa money man, Jeffrey Hausinger, and Taliaferro resigned last year.
Bottom line, college basketball is a cesspool sport. So don't feel sorry for Baylor.
But salute these Sooners, who a week earlier suffered their worst loss of the season, an 84-58 browbeating at Texas Tech. Since then, OU has won a Bedlam slugfest and snuffed the NCAA Tournament hopes from Baylor.
“Our guys were really good,” Capel said. “I knew we'd come in with some confidence.”
And that was even before the Perry Jones news broke in mid-afternoon.