John Klein: Loss proves OU still short of Big 12 elite
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 7:57 AM
Related story: OU loses dogfight with Cats.
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Loss proves OU still short of Big 12 elite
NORMAN - Oklahoma followed up its best game of the year with a devastating loss at home.
"This is a reminder that we have a long ways to go," said OU coach Lon Kruger.
On the same day Oklahoma State brought down mighty Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas State took a huge step forward in the Big 12 Conference by winning at Lloyd Noble Center.
"We just want to stay up there in the standings and the only way to do that is to keep winning," said K-State coach Bruce Weber.
The Wildcats blew an eight-point lead in the final three minutes but Angel Rodriguez saved the Wildcats by hitting two free throws with five seconds left in a 52-50 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday.
Coupled with OSU's takedown of the Jayhawks, there is once again somewhat of a race in the Big 12, and Kansas State, with a two-game sweep of Oklahoma, is in the middle of it.
"It keeps us up there in the league," said Weber as the Wildcats climbed to 17-4 and 6-2, now just a game back of Kansas in the race.
The Sooners failed to take advantage of a big opportunity to put themselves right in the middle of the championship chase.
OU (14-6, 5-3) was coming off an impressive victory at Baylor.
"We're still a work in progress," said OU's Romero Osby, who led the Sooners with 13 points.
That was not nearly enough on a night when shots were hard to get and points were even tougher.
Kansas State shot just 37 percent. Oklahoma shot 38 percent.
It was a long way from a thing of beauty.
"It was just a tough game from start to finish," said Kruger. "We had a difficult time on the offensive end."
The good news is that Kansas State was also having trouble finding the bucket.
"We guarded well and they guarded well," said Weber. "We played some great defense. The kids were locked in and ready to play.
"I thought their defense was as good as its been. They made everything tough."
Yes, no one was getting easy looks. As a result, points were at a premium.
In fact, it is somewhat of a miracle that both teams broke 50. The Sooners didn't crack the 40-point barrier until just four minutes remained.
"We had trouble scoring," said Kruger. "Our kids just kept plugging."
Until a late flurry, Kansas State led comfortably much of this game.
"We've got to do a lot of things better," said Kruger.
In recent games, OU had been better. The Sooners won five of their first seven Big 12 games. That included two key road games - at Baylor and West Virginia.
Losing at home is never good. It was also OU's third loss in its last five games.
Plus, the schedule is getting ready to toughen up for the Sooners. They've got upcoming trips to Iowa State and Oklahoma State along with a home date against Kansas in the next two weeks.
"We'll learn from today," said Kruger. "We have much work left to do."
The Sooners were awful offensively at times against the Wildcats and led for the last time just nine minutes into the game.
The Sooners were so bad offensively they went more than 10 minutes without a point sandwiched around halftime.
Luckily, Kansas State wasn't much better offensively. Even after OU went over 10 minutes without a point, the Sooners trailed by just seven.
"You go on the road and find a way to win," said Weber. "You have to grind it out."
It is a tribute to OU's defense that it was still in the game with the Wildcats, who had similar offensive problems.
"I think everything was tough for both teams," said Weber.
Now, the Sooners have little time to turn it back around. They are on the road at Iowa State on Monday.
Oklahoma will have to find its offense in a hurry because the Cyclones have been one of the nation's best offensive teams this season.
Another off night offensively and Oklahoma will have little chance of winning in Ames.
"We see what we need to work on," said Osby.
Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez (21) blocks the shot of Oklahoma's Amath M'Baye (22) during an NCAA men's basketball game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Kansas State at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman