Men's Basketball: Oklahoma
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 5:47 AM
12-4 overall, 3-1 Big 12
with Sam Grooms
Weight: 203 pounds
Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.
Grooms no longer starts at point guard, but he contributes starter's minutes off the bench. He played 25 minutes in Oklahoma's loss at Kansas State on Saturday after freshman starter Je'lon Hornbeak was rattled by K-State's pressure and home crowd. The Saturday before that, Grooms played a season-high 27 minutes, steadying the Sooners and guiding them to a crucial victory over Oklahoma State.
You've taken on a mentor's role with Hornbeak and the other two freshman guards?
I have to. I've gotta lead them. It's their first time going through it. I expect them to have some ups and downs. I just try to tell them as much positive things that I can tell them each day, and explain to them you can always stay even keel. Don't get too low or too high. Sometimes you're going to have good games, sometimes you're going to have bad games. That's the biggest thing I try to explain to them.
Is that something you have learned from experience?
You've got to understand that. Some games, you're gonna be the savoir. Other games, you're gonna be that 'why did that dude make that play?' guy. And the press is going to eat you alive. It's just life. You're put in this position, that's what you've got to understand.
You sound like a coach. Is that a potential career path?
I definitely want to do that. When the ball stops bouncing and goes flat, I wanna be a coach and help kids.
The Sooners split two games last week, winning the game everyone figured they would and losing the one most thought they would drop. The 69-60 setback was to No. 16 Kansas State on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan. The victory came last Wednesday night over Texas Tech, 81-63. The week leaves OU 3-1 in the Big 12 Conference and tied for third place.
The week ahead
Monday: vs. Texas, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday: at Kansas, 3 p.m.
Label Monday's game "dangerous." Texas comes in 0-4 in Big 12 games but at least showing some fight. The Longhorns had Kansas on the ropes Saturday before losing 64-59. Two of Texas' other three league losses went to overtime. The Jayhawks are in their familiar perch atop the conference standings, but Kansas State could knock them off Tuesday night in Manhattan.
The big picture
Red River requisite
The Sooners need Monday's game badly. If they lose, they run the risk of a four-game skid (games following Monday night's are at Kansas and at Baylor). What do they need to assure victory? Two things, for starters: Get off to a good start and deny Texas the belief it can win, and guard Sheldon McClellan. Out of Rick Barnes' doghouse, McClellan dented KU for 18 points in Saturday's tough loss in Austin.
The bright side
OU didn't play a sound offensive game at Kansas State Saturday, and that cost it a 69-60 loss. At the same time, the Sooners did some encouraging things. They defended and rebounded hard. They kept the fight despite the Wildcats' double-digit second-half lead. They competed, basically, and that bodes well for Big 12 brawls the rest of this month and next.
One up, one down
Andrew Fitzgerald scored six straight OU points midway though Saturday's first half. That's back-to-back games where Fitzgerald has shown signs of busting out of his offensive slump. Now, if the Sooners could only get Fitzgerald's old pal to bust out of his. The last time Steven Pledger made more shots than he missed was Nov. 28 at Oral Roberts.
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield soars past Texas Tech's Daylen Robinson during Wednesday's game in Norman. BRYAN TERRY / The Oklahoman