The children, who were invited by the OU Athletics Department to watch a practice, chimed in with “oohs” and “ahhs” during warm-ups. They counted how many shots the players made in a row and shouted “Dunk it, dunk it!”
“Just the fact that we were able to make a little kid's day even better is a blessing,” M'Baye said post-practice as one kid after another handed him posters, shirts and basketballs to sign. “I know that kind of stuff, I always enjoyed when I was little. I was always like, ‘Man, I love this guy.' The fact that they got to watch us a little bit and talk to us a little bit and us give back to them is great. All the smiling faces just makes us happier.”
Neither M'Baye or Hornbeak would say they dislike the turnaround. Big Monday means becoming a more respected program — and that's exactly what drew the two first-year starters to Norman. But when they run on the court to take on their hated rivals, they said they'll have a better mentality because of the wide-eyed children who watched them prepare.
“It was a surprise to us,” Hornbeak said. “It kind of helps us take our mind of the game a little bit. We've been a little up and down, especially coming off this loss. It just brightens the mood of everybody.”
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Oklahoma vs. Texas
*When: 8:30 p.m. Monday
*Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
*TV: ESPN (Cox 29/HD 720, Dish 140, DirecTV 206, U-verse 602)
*Radio: KOKC-AM 1520
Three things to know
*OU will have its second tip within 53 hours.
*The Sooners are 23-11 against the Longhorns in Norman.
*Texas has lost its first four Big 12 games, while OU is coming off its first conference loss.