LUBBOCK, Texas — A handful of Sooners agreed that the Amath M’Baye of old was on display Wednesday night.
The M’Baye who showed up in Oklahoma’s 86-71 men’s basketball victory at Texas Tech was the one teammates recognized as the tough perfectionist, the guy who got everybody talking in the preseason.
The junior forward recorded his first double-double — 15 points and 13 rebounds — and added a career-high five assists.
“I’m excited for him,” OU senior Sam Grooms said with a large smile after the game. “That’s big. He’s been down on himself a little bit lately. He went out there, he played hard. He dominated. I’m looking forward to having that the rest of the year.”
Five players scored in double digits for OU, including Steven Pledger, who had a season-best 22 points. But M’Baye was a huge key to the Sooners improving to 17-8 overall and 8-5 in the Big 12.
The Sooners, who have two road games remaining on their schedule, started the game with a small letdown defensively, yet M’Baye was there scoring seven of OU’s first 10 points.
The contributions began to pour in from multiple players. Romero Osby contributed a dunk. Pledger drained buckets from beyond the arc.
Grooms showed glimpses of the player who performed well on Saturday against Oklahoma State. The three seniors combined to go 19-of-34, contributing 55 of Oklahoma’s 86 total points.
“Guys really moved the ball well,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said about his team. “They made a lot of plays for one another.”
Throughout the entire game, though, M’Baye was hitting jumpers, free throws and even two 3-pointers. He battled under the basket, too. M’Baye felt like this was a step in the right direction — a step toward the M’Baye of old.
“Then again, there’s been a lot of ‘step closers,’” M’Baye said. “Baylor, I thought, was a step closer. West Virginia, I thought was a step closer. Oklahoma State, I thought, was a step closer. I just have to keep my head in there and I’m doing a better job.”
And the Mr. Perfectionist he is, M’Baye still found a few things wrong in his game — including four fouls and “a few missed jumpers and boards.”
“I want to be perfect,” M’Baye said. “I don’t know if it’s possible, but as long as I’m not perfect, I’ll try.”
Josh Gray led Texas Tech (9-15, 2-11) with 26 points.