STILLWATER — Oklahoma enters Sunday's Bedlam game at Oklahoma State facing the very real possibility that it will miss its first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
Such a thought would've seemed absurd at the beginning of the season, when Oklahoma was voted as the Big 12 Conference's preseason favorite with four returning starters from the 2012-13 Sweet 16 squad.
But the Sooners (15-10, 6-6 Big 12) have alternated wins and losses over their past six games, most recently losing 76-75 at home to West Virginia in a game where OU led by 12 points midway through the second half.
“I just think, short and sweet, we just have to continue to get better and continue to build off of that energy that we have had in the past few games,” senior guard Morgan Hook said after the game.
The question is, though, can Oklahoma find a way to establish some real, tangible momentum with only six conference games remaining before the Big 12 Tournament begins March 7?
This is the third season since the Big 12 became a 10-team league and began an 18-game conference schedule in basketball. The last two seasons, all four teams that went 9-9 in league play made the NCAA Tournament, and three of the four teams that went 8-10 also qualified for the Big Dance.
The Sooners upset Oklahoma State in the season's first meeting Feb. 1 in Norman, but OU hasn't won in Stillwater since Jan. 29, 2011. Last year when the teams met in Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Cowgirls won convincingly 83-62.
After Bedlam, OU hosts Texas and Kansas — both solid squads capable of beat the Sooners — and then travels to face Big 12 leader Baylor on Feb. 24.