Plenty to talk about and look back on after Oklahoma’s 88-76 Bedlam win over Oklahoma State on Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
First, the main stories:
And finally John, Jason Kersey and myself put together a Bedlam notebook that includes items on the Cowboys’ struggles in Norman, the Sooners winning even without a lot of scoring from Buddy Hield and Cam Clark and Phil Forte‘s big shooting from outside that kept OSU in it.
Now, onto some other items:
- It looked early like Marcus Smart was going to bounce back from his disappointing game Saturday against West Virginia with a monster game. He hit a 3-pointer over Isaiah Cousins about a minute into the game then drilled a second just a minute later over Woodard. But Smart’s night was quickly derailed. He picked up his first foul a minute later when he got into Woodard then had his second by nine minutes in when Neal was stuck under the basket with the clock ticking down. Neal went up, looking like he had no clear way to get out from under the bucket to hit a shot, and was fouled by Smart with two seconds left on the shot clock. Smart went out for the remainder of the half.
- The Sooners had a chance to extend the lead with Smart and Le’Bryan Nash on the bench for long stretches of the first half but couldn’t. What Oklahoma did do, though, was maintain the lead. The Sooners led by eight when Smart took a seat and still lead by eight by the end of the half. OSU did briefly cut the lead in half but OU closed strong. That’s been a problem for the Sooners so far this season so they were encouraged by their strong showing going into the break.
- Woodard and Oklahoma State’s Stevie Clark didn’t play against each other in high school when Woodard starred at Edmond Memorial and Clark at Douglass. But they did face off before that, when Woodard was still at Northeast. Woodard said he looked forward to the matchup and he was the clear winner. Woodard finished with a team-high 18 points and got to the line 13 times. Clark finished with just two points and fouled out with about 12 minutes remaining. Clark played just 11 minutes. Woodard referred to his relationship with Clark afterward but said that matchup didn’t add any pressure to his first Bedlam game.
- Mentioned it near the end of my story but Woodard’s 3-pointer early in the second half was a clear indication that things were going OU’s way. Woodard was trying to draw a foul as the shot clock expired but instead drilled a 3-pointer to put the Sooners up by 12. Neal on whether he thought that play showed OU was in for a special night: “That went through my head. It’s your home court and those things are going to happen. They’ll happen in Stillwater for them. We’ll just hope we can kind of withstand those type of plays and answer that adversity and still give us a chance to win a ballgame.
- The Sooners have a couple more weeks before they have to worry about that Feb. 15 rematch at Gallagher-Iba Arena. For now, OU is ready to concentrate on Iowa State. The Sooners upset the Cyclones at home earlier this month.
- This was likely an elimination game in the Big 12 race. Obviously, it’s Kansas’ to lose at this point but you never know when you’re in position. The Sooners are in sole possession of second place in the league with a 6-2 mark, two games back of Kansas. Texas is 5-2 and is off until Saturday. The Cowboys, though, are 4-3 in the league with road losses to the top two teams.
- Neal has seen Bedlam at its lowest and at his highest during his four seasons with the Sooners. OU was not very good when he arrived in Norman and his first couple of Bedlam games featured not-very-good teams playing in games that, while they attracted bigger crowds than other games in those seasons, didn’t draw a ton of people. Neal: “If you take a picture of my freshman year and this year, obviously it’s going to be a little bit different but even my freshman year that relative to other games that was like, ‘Oh man, this is great. This is an NBA game here.’ But tonight, it doesn’t get any better than that—students were great, fans were great. Definitely can’t give them enough credit. They were very helpful. Just wish we could go and tell each of them how much they mean to the environment and to ultimately winning a basketball game.”
- Neal also said he hoped the energy that turned Lloyd Noble Center electrict on Monday would stick around for other home games this season. “When we go on the road at KU, OSU, we’re kind of on the other end of that,” Neal said. “It’s great to have that here. Hopefully this win can kind of push that forward and help them keep coming out and we’ll be very thankful for that.”
- Could the quick turnaround after Saturday’s game at Texas Tech and this game have helped the Sooners? Neal said there might be something to that. With a young team, the Sooners weren’t given much of a chance to think about the outside factors of Bedlam since they had to turn around and implement the game plan for the Cowboys in one practice Sunday.
- The Sooners got 30 points from the bench and outscored the Cowboys by six with their reserves. The total bench points were Oklahoma’s third-highest of the season and highest since the this game of the season.
- Phil Forte was the reason the Cowboys were in the game in the first half. He nailed a LONG 3-pointer about 12 minutes into the game, capping off five consecutive points from him. He nailed another deep ball two minutes later. I’d seen Forte’s range on TV but it’s a different animal to watch in person. Reminded me of some of the ridiculously long 3-pointer that Keiton Page used to put up at Pawnee (and then OSU).
- Markel Brown‘s dunks are thrilling to watch. He made the SportsCenter top ten again tonight with a posterization of D.J. Bennett late in the first half.
- That play, though, showed a bit of why Bennett was so much better tonight than he had been for much of the season. Bennett has had a tendency to chase blocks too much to the detriment of staying in the game. For most of the year, Bennett might’ve gone after it strong even with no chance of making the play and wound up whistled for another foul. He was aggressive when he needed to be Monday but was smart enough to know when to back off a big and let things play out.
- Spangler’s double-double was his Big 12-leading ninth of the season.