Sooners get Bedlam win with fast start, strong finish
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, January 13, 2013
1/13/13 at 7:15 AM
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NORMAN - The tweet was sent by James Fraschilla on Saturday morning, the Oklahoma reserve using social media to speak for his team:
"Gotta make a statement and take a big step in achieving our goals."
The Sooners won't know about their NCAA tournament goals for several weeks, of course. But the step taken several hours later in a 77-68 victory over Oklahoma State seemed big. OU showed some real growth in starting fast and finishing strong against its most talented opponent to date.
As for the statement? It's conceivable winning a Bedlam anything is a statement.
"I was already getting excited to be able to play against these guys on the way back from West Virginia," forward Amath M'Baye said, flashing back to the previous Saturday's victory in Morgantown. "As soon as we stepped on the bus, I was getting excited for this game."
The Sooners' took M'Baye's cue and came out amped.
A Steven Pledger steal triggered a breakout, and Buddy Hield's layup followed for the day's first points. The Sooners struck again in transition for a Je'lon Hornbeak lay-in. Then Romero Osby beat Philip Jurick for a three-point play.
The Sooners had a lead they would never give up. It grew to 32-18 on another Osby three-point play with 4:35 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State chopped it down to 38-29 by the break. OU rebuilt it to 45-31 with another hot start out of the locker room.
The Sooners' only taste of adversity followed, thanks to a mini-Le'Bryan Nash burst midway through the second half. The OSU forward finally asserted himself and scored five quick points to bring his team within 52-50 with 9:34 remaining.
OU answered that with Pledger's 3 over Nash, Pledger's three free throws thanks to Markel Brown's foul, and Hield's 3 off Pledger's set-up.
The Cowboys chipped away with some free throws in the meantime, but went 7 1/2 minutes between field goals (both by Nash).
By the time M'Baye rose and flushed Sam Grooms' inbound pass with 4:05 to play, the Sooners had their cushion again, 70-57.
OU was home safely at 11-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference. The Sooners now own a nine-game homecourt winning streak against OSU and a four-game streak overall heading into Wednesday's home date with struggling Texas Tech.
The Cowboys fell to 11-4 and 1-2. They haven't won in Norman for quite a while, and haven't won outside of Stillwater much this year.
"There's some kind of spell on us," Brown figured of OSU's road woes.
Saturday, actually, was more Sooners than magic.
Osby took OSU's big men outside and shot over them en route to 17 points. M'Baye closed with 15 points. Hield contributed 15 points, five assists and four rebounds. Pledger made just two field goals, but still found his way to 11 points to go with nine rebounds.
Brown led the Pokes with 19 points. Nash and Forte scored 12 apiece, while foul-troubled freshman Marcus Smart scored 10 on 3-of-10 shooting.
OSU went just 6-of-21 from 3-point range and shot 39 percent from the field overall.
"Give OU credit," said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. "They made big shots when they needed them ... We fought back, but when they needed it, they countered."
That's a change from OU's last three teams. They're not wilting under pressure or in big moments, but pushing through. Saturday in front of a rare crowd at the Lloyd Noble Center (8,696) was one of those moments.
"It was a lot different, more intense," Hield said. "It was a great experience."
"It felt amazing," M'Baye said. "A great feeling, especially to win."
OU UP NEXT:
Vs. Texas Tech
7 p.m. Wednesday
OSU UP NEXT:
Vs. Texas Tech
1 p.m. Saturday
Original Print Headline: OU's 'big step'
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart and Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger battle for a loose ball during Saturday's game in Norman. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press