Oklahoma Basketball falls in OT to Cowboys, 84-79

Sam Grooms played the game of his college career Saturday afternoon.  The savvy senior came off the bench to stabilize the Sooner offense for a career high 18 points on 9-11 shooting and four assists.  He was instrumental in a late first half run that gave the Sooners the advantage at the break, and came up with some big time second half plays.  However, Grooms’ hot hand, as pleasant a surprise as it was, was not enough to keep the Sooners from falling victim to Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash.  Oklahoma lost 84-79 in a classic bedlam overtime matchup in Stillwater.

With 3 minutes to play, Oklahoma looked to be in good shape, up by five, 69-64.  However, Nash and Smart had already lost once to Oklahoma this season and they were determined not to make it twice.  They scored six of the Cowboys final eight points in regulation, as Oklahoma State stormed back in dramatic fashion.  Thanks to a great defensive stint from the Cowboys, Oklahoma had to settled for a questionable shot on their final possession, and as the buzzer sounded, the score was still knotted—overtime it would be.

Oklahoma Basketball

Oklahoma Basketball’s Sam Grooms scores a career high 19 points, but it’s not enough to push his team past Oklahoma State (Photo from Soonersports.com)

The stage was set for a classic basketball game.  For nearly the first two minutes, neither team scored a basket, Romero Osby struck first, but Nash answered, starting what would end up being a back and forth battle between the Sooners in Nash.  Sooners would take the lead, Nash would snatch it right back with another clutch basket.  In the end, Nash ended up being too much for the Sooners, as the Cowboys began to pull away.  Grooms uncharacteristically committed just his second turnover of the game during a crucial possession—OU was down 80-79 with 45 seconds to play—and a Michael Cobbins layup on the fast break sealed the game’s fate.

Oklahoma State fans then proceeded to storm the court, giddy with delight after defeating an unranked team on their home floor; but hey, that’s bedlam for you.  Some things just don’t make sense.

Amidst the doom and gloom of the loss, a couple bright spots can be found for the Sooners.  In addition to Grooms, Steven Pledger stepped up big for Oklahoma, pouring in 18 points on 3-6 from downtown on the afternoon.  In what has been an up and down year for Pledger, Sooner fans can only hope that he will start becoming a more dependable threat.  Now would be perfect timing for that too, with the recent injury to Buddy Hield, the Sooners need someone to step up in his absence, especially entering a critical part of their season.

Of course, Romero Osby had another stellar outing. Osby has been Mr. consistent for the and today was just another day at the office.  The senior added 18 points of his own, and also pulled down 15 boards.

Jelon Hornbeak quietly put in a solid effort in the loss.  He scored 10 points on 3-6 from three point range.

The Sooners main problem was their inability to contain the Cowboys’ star players.  Smart and Nash combined to shoot 50% and score 54 points.  Smart also added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in a stat-stuffing effort.  This was completely opposite of bedlam round one, in which Oklahoma contained Smart with ease, and also came up with the win.

To start the game, it appeared the Sooners were desperately lacking the energy and effort of Buddy Hield.  Their offense was stagnant, and though they played tight defensively, the Cowboys simply couldn’t be stopped, knocking down improbable jumpers with Sooner hands right in their face.  Successive Marcus Smart buckets sparked a 12-4 Cowboy run that would give them an 11 point advantage 19-8.

The crowd was in a frenzy, and it became evident Oklahoma would need a few big plays in order to assert themselves back into the game.  They got them.  In a collective effort, the Sooners slowly began to chip away at the Oklahoma State lead.  Andrew Fitzgerald knocked down a couple of clutch free throws and Cameron Clark hit a transition jumper, and the lead was down to seven.  The run wouldn’t stop there, though and the game would eventually be knotted at 23.  The previously raucous crowd fell silent.  Oklahoma capitalized on the quiet atmosphere, and continued to build their lead.  By halftime, the Sooners had turned an 11-point deficit, into an 8-point advantage, leading 35-27 at the half.  They ended the half on a 27-8 run to gain that lead.

The Sooners, continued their dominant play in the incipient stages of the second half.  Pledger started out red hot, and after Hornbeak busted a three pointer, Oklahoma opened up a 45-34 lead.  Oklahoma State responded with a 9-0 to trim to margin to two.  From there, they were back in the game.  When Phil Forte hit a fastbreak layup to knot the game at 69, the momentum shifted.

Next up Oklahoma (16-8, 7-5) will look to bounce back when they travel to Lubbock Wednesday to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-13, 2-9).  Tip-off is set for 6 PM CST.

Want more Sooner hoops?  Follow me on Twitter @ChandlerVessels

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