Once again, though, the Sooners failed to maintain that momentum in the postseason.
Last season, it was a loss at TCU in the regular-season finale that snowballed into a setback to Iowa State in a Big 12 Tournament opener. A first-round NCAA Tournament loss to San Diego State followed.
The North Dakota State team the Sooners lost to on Thursday was an experienced group with seniors all over the floor.
Oklahoma, by comparison, didn’t have near as much experience.
Its starting lineup included a freshman point guard, two sophomore guards and a redshirt sophomore forward, who hadn’t played in a game in nearly two years. A freshman, a sophomore and a redshirt junior, who hadn’t played Division I basketball before the season, made up three of the four rotation spots off the bench.
“I feel like maturity’s going to be a big part of our growth in the offseason,” said Jordan Woodard, the freshman point guard. “We’ve got a lot of young guys this season, but next year I feel like we’re going to be a more veteran team. That’s going to help us win more ball games.”
The Sooners graduate just two seniors and will have one next year. The label of “inexperienced” will be off this team next season.
“There are times we just needed one shot to go down, one stop here,” Hornbeak said. “I’m confident we can do it.”