Sam Grooms shook his head at the thought of last Saturday and vowed it wouldn't happen again.
In their final regular season basketball game, the Sooners didn't even show up for the first half, allowing Big 12 cellar-dweller TCU to take a 22-point halftime lead, and an eventual victory.
If Oklahoma comes out in its first postseason game the way it did against TCU — “a little bit complacent … in some ways, wasn't really worried about it” said Grooms — it could be a quick Big 12 Tournament for the Sooners, who face Iowa State at 11:30 a.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
“We're going to get plastered if we come out and play that way,” Grooms said.
It would be the unfortunate end to Year 2 under Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. The Sooners built a resume with victories against powerful Kansas and Oklahoma State. The Sooners had doubled their conference victories of the previous two seasons. They were looking at their first shot winning the tournament in years. And although college basketball analysts say it would take a lot, there's a chance of uncertainty in Oklahoma's future.
CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm called the loss to TCU an “abomination.” The Sooners dropped to the No. 11 seed in his bracket.
“It was brutal,” Palm said. “They could have been in an 8, 9 game, possibly even a seven seed. They already had a bad loss.”
That loss was when they gave up a 22-point lead to Texas with seven minutes remaining in Austin just a few weeks ago.
But if there's a silver lining in this next game for Oklahoma, Palm had the answer: “Losing to TCU is seed damaging. Losing to Iowa State? Not necessarily. If anything, they could switch seeds.”
Former coach and current ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla sees it a little differently. He thinks the resume Oklahoma has built since November will give them a case for March Madness.
“They're on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in this opening round,” Fraschilla said. “I wouldn't say safely in. They'll have to sweat it a little with a loss. If they were to get out knocked out early, I would say they are reasonably, safely in the field based on everything they've done since November.
“To win 11 games in a conference as competitive as the Big 12, to play one of the conferences best strength of schedules, to have some quality wins on their schedule, I wouldn't say they're playing with house money but they've put themselves in great shape heading into the Big 12 (Championship) on their entire body of work.”
OU's had its share of struggles, though. Dating back to the start of February, Oklahoma is 1-4 in road games — with the lone victory coming against Texas Tech.
“Like everybody else in the conference,” Fraschilla said of the puzzling, late season losses such as Baylor defeating Kansas.
So what have the late-season losses and the poor spurts of play done to Oklahoma? Nothing that says, “Stay out of the NCAA Tournament” just yet. If anything, Palm says this is what an average NCAA Tournament team does. Wins at home, loses on the road — but builds a strong enough resume to make it in.
“But beating Iowa State is the best way in from here,” he said.
OU forward Romero Osby said he doesn't think anything has changed with his team not winning tight games late in the season.
“I think the competition has picked up a lot,” he said. “We've got to be prepared every night and go out there and play as hard as you can and not take any team lightly and respect the opponent.