PHILADELPHIA — One Sooner has faced San Diego State.
And if it were up to San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, and conference rules didn't exist, that player would never have become a Sooner.
Two seasons ago, junior Amath M'Baye was on the roster of Mountain West Conference school Wyoming. He faced San Diego State four times — where Fisher saw his intense energy, athleticism and talent — before transferring to Oklahoma.
“Had there not been a rule within the league about taking transfers, we would have been on the front doorstop knocking to try to get him to come to our place,” Fisher said.
Now, M'Baye is on a four-game streak of struggles for Oklahoma. Back when he was a freshman and sophomore, M'Baye was an energetic force, like the one fans saw early this season that faded the deeper OU went into conference play.
Fans hope to see M'Baye's energy return again Friday when the Sooners and the Aztecs tip their NCAA Tournament opener at 8:20 p.m. As for how he's competed against SDSU, well, that repeat of history is something M'Baye wants to change.
The matchups aren't something he likes to talk about. The subject of his four games against the Aztecs cast a sour look on M'Baye's face.
In his four meetings with San Diego State, M'Baye went 1-3. The first one was an 85-83 victory in which M'Baye had six points, one assists and two steals. The next three were 28, 39 and 27-point losses, respectively.
In those four games, M'Baye went 9-of-30 and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc.
“I remember struggling,” M'Baye said. “It was a bad game. They were winning by about 20 or 25. They were impressive then.”
Flash forward to M'Baye's first active year in a Sooner jersey. Oklahoma's worse loss was a 19-point beating to Iowa State early in conference season. As for the energetic M'Baye who slammed dunks, yelled after a good play and even flashed the ‘Horns Down on Texas home turf, he's been pretty silent as of late.
Actually, ever since he flashed the ‘Horns Down in the Sooners' 92-86 overtime loss to Texas on Feb. 27.
He's gone a mere 10-of-29 from the floor and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc, while registering an equal amount of turnovers and blocks (four).
M'Baye said he just needs to play better right now and wouldn't give a direct answer on if he felt something was off in his game.
“I know I can come up with big games when I put my mind to it,” he said. “I'm not really worried about it.”
But senior forward Romero Osby knows that M'Baye has been struggling and said the junior has gotten his confidence back and has really attacked during practice.
“It's a 40-minute game, but it's 10 four-minute battles,” Osby said. “If he lets whatever goes in the first four minutes, if it's something bad, just let it go in the next four minutes.”
The key for M'Baye's next game against San Diego State, Osby mentioned, was the thing that drew Fisher to M'Baye: his energy.
“We just need him to be aggressive, use that athleticism and be crazy and jump around, you know how he does,” Osby said. “When he plays like that and doesn't think, he plays great.”