Amath M'Baye knew what he was doing when he flashed the “Horns Down” sign at Texas fans after Oklahoma took a 22-point lead Wednesday night at the Erwin Center.
Even though OU would blow the lead in the last seven minutes and go on to lose the Big 12 basketball game in overtime, the junior forward said he doesn't regret what he did.
“It's just me,” M'Baye said. “I'm an energy guy. I get hyped. It's just a sign. It's a common sign between the two teams. You see it every day on TV. It's not like I was trying to be disrespectful or anything like that.”
Senior Romero Osby got after M'Baye, telling him to act with class. As the crowd booed M'Baye and moments later, Texas sophomore Myck Kabongo drew a foul, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger replaced M'Baye with junior Tyler Neal. Part of the reason, Kruger said, was because of M'Baye's actions.
“We just don't do that,” Kruger said. “And he knows that. It was just kind of an emotional moment.”
Kruger spoke with M'Baye about it.
“We don't do those things in terms of relating to the crowd,” the second-year coach said. “We play each position by focusing between the lines. That's the only thing we addressed is, ‘Don't interact with the crowd.'”
NEXT GOAL: REGROUP
After the loss to Texas, OU began to look toward its Saturday game against Iowa State.
The Sooners and Cyclones are currently tied for fourth-place in the Big 12. In their last meeting, Iowa State beat Oklahoma by 19 points.
Kruger's message to his team after the loss to the Longhorns was to regroup for its next game.
“That's the nature of conference play,” Kruger said, “whether you win or lose, you're going to play another big ballgame three days from now.”
Although the Sooners blew a 22-point lead, Osby said: “We played really good defense. We shared a majority of the loose balls, we were happy for each other and happy to see each other make good plays.”
Osby said there were positives from the game — they just didn't come in the remaining seven minutes.
“We've been playing better basketball,” Osby said. “Just the last seven minutes of the game (Wednesday) night weren't really good but the first 32 minutes were, so we've got to build on that. We can't dwell on what happened at the end. We didn't finish like we wanted to, but we can take a lot of positives from it.”
DEFENDING THE THREE
Back in early February, Oklahoma allowed Iowa State to dictate what happened beyond the arc.
In their first conference meeting of the season, the Cyclones drained 11 3-pointers on 27 attempts.
A lot of the damage came in the first half as Iowa State made eight 3-pointers. Oklahoma spent the second half trying to play catch up. This time, the Sooners are determined to come out more cognizant of how much the Cyclones hang around the arc.
The Cyclones rank second in the league with a .385 3-point percentage. However, they have attempted the most in the league with 413 attempts. That's what makes them dangerous.
“They are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country,” Kruger said. “It stretches you out. ... You have to limit them to one shot. Long shots, long rebounds, everyone's got to be involved.”
Romero Osby on how small mistakes get intensified toward the end of the season: “January is kind of the beginning, and everybody's trying to establish where they are in the standings. Toward the end, especially down the stretch right now, when you need these key games and beat teams that you're supposed to beat — we've just got to go out there and not worry about the talk of the NCAA Tournament ... and let the chips fall where they may.”