When it got to crunch time Saturday, with the game in overtime and begging for someone to make a decisive play, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart each produced turning points on the defensive end.
First, with the Cowboys owning an 80-79 lead, Brown stripped OU's Sam Grooms for a steal, leading to a Michael Cobbins layup that bumped the lead to three.
“It's all scouting report,” Brown said. “I knew he was going to try to get the ball back to his left hand, once he had it in his right hand. Once he put it in his left hand, I tried to make a steal for it, and he tried to hurry up and bring it back to his right.
“I don't think he thought I was going to do that, and he lost the handle and I was able to get it.”
On the Sooners' next possession, Steven Pledger was set up on the wing, in position for a potential tying shot. Pledger had already fired in three 3-pointers as part of his 18 points, but as he caught the ball and rose to fire his attempt, Smart managed to tie him up, forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing OSU's way.
“I knew at the time they needed a 3,” Smart said. “And I knew once he got it, he wasn't giving the ball up, he was going to try to take it. I just timed it perfectly, went up with him and made sure I got ball and didn't foul him.
“He's a good player, he could have easily pump-faked me, got me in the air and drew a foul. But you know, it was all instinct. I waited for him to leave his feet, and I left when he did and timed it perfectly.”
PLEDGER PASSES GRIFFIN ON SCORING LIST
Pledger got off to a rough start against the Cowboys, going 1-for-6 on his first six attempts. Then he heated up, draining his next six.
The senior ended the game with 18 points, pushing him past Oklahoma great Blake Griffin on OU's all-time scoring list. Pledger's 1,283 points ranks him 18th.
GALLAGHER-IBA ROCKS AGAIN
Saturday's game featured the biggest — and rowdiest — crowd of the season at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Officially a sellout, additional general admission tickets were also sold, resulting in an overflow that had some fans standing on the inner concourses.
“They gave us a lot of support,” said Cowboys sophomore Le'Bryan Nash said. “They helped us out a lot. When the momentum changed, you could see the crowd change it. It got louder and louder. Sometimes, I couldn't even hear myself. I'm trying to talk to my teammates and I couldn't even hear myself.
“It was a big crowd. And it really motivated me to play harder.”
OSU coach Travis Ford took doughnuts to students who arrived in the morning and received constant updates about long lines forming outside the arena.
“It was a difference for us,” Ford said. “Make no mistake, the crowd and the atmosphere was a difference for us, especially in a game like this where I didn't think we were playing great. We needed that extra and they gave us that extra. It was exciting to see. I think they saw a good game.”
CLARK PROVIDES NEW LIFT
Junior reserve Cam Clark is known for giving Oklahoma a lift.
Usually it's with a burst of points. Saturday, Clark registered only one field goal, yet grabbed seven boards, the second-most for the Sooners behind Romero Osby's game-high 15.
FORD PAYS TRIBUTE TO BUDKE
For the second time, Ford donned an orange blazer, ala late Cowgirls coach Kurt Budke.
And for the second straight season, it was the fashion statement in a Bedlam home win.
“In honor of Coach Budke,” Ford said. “That's why I do it. Definitely, that's why I do it.”
Brown signed off on the look.
“I like it,” Brown said. “It's a fly jacket. “It represents a very respectable man here in Coach Budke. I like it. I wish I could wear it out there on the court.”
OU'S NEXT 3
Wednesday: at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.
Saturday: Baylor, 4 p.m.
Feb. 27: at Texas, 8 p.m.
OSU'S NEXT 3
Wednesday: Kansas, 8 p.m.
Saturday: at West Virginia, 1 p.m.
Feb. 27: at TCU, 6 p.m.