STILLWATER — The Sooners call it “Buddy Time.”
Those minutes when a player is so energetic, so consistent and so hard working that he plays like the injured freshman Buddy Hield.
That's what Sam Grooms channeled for his final Bedlam game — and it led the Sooners to overtime. Yet, with the game on the line and less than a minute remaining, Grooms lost the dribble, and Cowboys forward Michael Cobbins stripped him and scored the go-ahead basket. Grooms watched as Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, who had a game-high 28 points, and his team celebrated the 84-79 victory at center court with their fans.
“It hurts to leave here without the win,” Grooms said after the game.
For Oklahoma, it's back to the drawing board to continue to enhance a game plan that will lead them to the NCAA Tournament. Buddy Time will certainly remain.
“We just have to step up and take on Buddy Time,” Grooms said. “He's rubbed off on the team so much. Every day for an extra 10 to 15 minutes, we're just going to work hard for him.”
Grooms put in some hard work Saturday, going 9 of 11 from the field and scoring a career-high 18 points off the bench.
This is a senior reserve who just weeks ago didn't see the court against Baylor. In his last six games, Grooms had scored a total of 11 points.
“It feels good, but at the same token it hurts real bad,” Grooms said. “I don't usually turn the ball over. That play right there is going to stick in my head for the rest of the day and tomorrow and until we play again. I will focus on working on that. I don't usually do that.”
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger praised Grooms for allowing the Sooners to keep the Cowboys from ever leading in the second half and pushing the game to overtime.
“We would have not been in that position had he not played as well as he did,” Kruger said.
Big point contributions from seniors Romero Osby and Steven Pledger — who added 18 points each — also helped Oklahoma. Osby — who had a double-double with his 15 rebounds — scored 15 points in the second half and overtime combined.
“That's the usual,” Grooms said of Osby's stability and consistency. “I'm not even surprised when Roe did that. I'm just sticking to the fact that Roe is our leader and he's going to make plays like that just about every time we need him.”
Because that's what Oklahoma does, Grooms said. They step up and help others when they are in need. Now, their contributions are being fueled by the freshman guard who's stuck on the bench.
“To be honest, I love Buddy to death,” Grooms said. “We're going to play hard for Buddy because that's what he does. I want to play for him because he can't play. I just stepped up in his absence.”