Oklahoma’s 70-67 loss to TCU was horrific and shocking; demoralizing even, for a team who was riding a hot streak, having won six of their last eight games. The Sooners, who entered the game 20-9, were the heavy favorites to pulverize the poor Horned Frogs. Instead, it was TCU who delivered the beating, jumping out on the shell-shocked Sooners early.
Much like in their upset of Kansas earlier in the season, the Horned Frogs limited the Sooners scoring in the first half. It was hard not to cringe with every Sooner shot attempt. Oklahoma shot just 33.3% from the field in the first half, on their way to amassing an abysmal total of 22 points. In even more dismal news, they shot 0% from three for the entire game. Yes, zero. It’s difficult enough to recover from a 25 point deficit, but even more so when you have no threat from outside.
Defensively, the Sooners weren’t much better. TCU shot 61.3% and scored 44 points in the first half alone.
The Sooners did make a valiant effort to come back in the second half, eventually closing the gap to one point with eight seconds left, but never could get over the hump following their horrendous first half performance. TCU prevailed, earning just their second conference victory.
The Sooners were absolutely outplayed in every way imaginable by a team with inferior talent. However, this loss, though shocking, is not as devastating as one might think. Though many would like to look at it as a major blow to the Sooners season, we should start looking at it for what it really is—a minor blemish on an otherwise solid resume.
Recall the preseason. The Sooners were picked to finish 8th in the conference, ahead of only Texas Tech and TCU. There was a sense of ambiguity about the team, which was expecting major contribution from four newcomers—three freshmen and junior transfer Amath M’Baye. No one really knew what to expect from these new guys. Not exactly a team you’d pick as a lock for the NCAA tournament. However, with the development of those four guys, and contributions from the seasoned core of veterans they already had, that’s where they are.
The Sooners may have lost to TCU, but overall, their season has been much of a success story. They upset Kansas, who despite falling to Baylor Saturday, has potential to be a top seed in the tournament. They beat an Oklahoma State team that ranks top 15 in the country. They beat a solid Baylor team on the road. They’ve exceeded expectations of everyone, even their fans. Even with the loss, the Sooners, with a record of 20-10, are still five games better than where they finished last season, and with games still to be played.
That’s the beauty of this whole season. Oklahoma will have a postseason outside of the Big 12 tournament. Even with the loss yesterday that is apparent. In recent bracket updates, the Sooners are still well within the field of 68 (7 seed in USA Today, 11 seed according to CBS). Oklahoma will be dancing come March, regardless of what happens in the Big 12 tournament. They’ve cemented themselves.
Instead of focusing on the Sooners putrid performance from Saturday, the focus should be shifted to how much of a turnaround they have made this season. They’ve gone from hopeless and bleak to a budding team with a bright future. For the first time in three seasons, they reached 20 wins.
Even facing the upcoming exodus of four major contributors (senior Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, Sam Grooms and Andrew Fitzgerald) the Sooners appear to be set for whatever the future holds. Kruger has built a young nucleus of high-energy guys that will be around for a while. Replacing those seniors next season will be Ryan Spangler (Gonzaga transfer), Jordan Woodard, and Keshaun Hamilton; all more than capable. This isn’t just a one year stint, Sooner basketball is back to stay.
This season got the ball rolling, and it is a shame to see it end on such a gloomy note. Simply because it ended that way though, doesn’t take away from the Sooners accomplishments. With the post season left to play Oklahoma still has a chance to go out on top. A win or two in the NCAA tournament make it special, especially for a team coming off of a four year tournament drought.
The loss to TCU was a tough one to swallow. But Oklahoma still had their best season of the post Blake Griffin era. They will still see a postseason. They still went above and beyond what was expected of them. The loss changes none of this.
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