OU vows no letdown off KU win
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 7:19 AM
NORMAN - Every October Bob Stoops brags about avoiding a hangover.
It's Oklahoma football season then, not basketball. And the hangover Stoops refers to involves Texas, not Kansas.
Still, perhaps the OU hoopsters can draw on the football team's 9-0 record in games that follow victories over Texas. Stoops somehow gets his players dialed right back in after the season's signature triumph.
This is now Lon Kruger's task.
The Sooners are coming off a 72-66 win over No. 5 Kansas, when students rushed the court to celebrate the biggest win since Kruger took over the program. Guard Steven Pledger got caught up in the euphoria as the arena speakers blared "Jump Around."
"I started jumping, too," he said.
Fifteen minutes later, however, Pledger had come back down. It was a good sign for an OU team that was 48 hours from turning around and hosting TCU.
"We're not gonna have a letdown," Pledger vowed. "Individually, you don't want to be that guy to let the team down. So we're not gonna lay down. If anything we're gonna go harder. Knowing we just beat Kansas? Yeah, we're gonna go hard."
Pledger is right in the sense that OU should get a push from winning Saturday. Imagine how difficult it would have been for the Sooners to rebound from losing a game they led for 35 of the 40 minutes.
Now, the challenge is taking Monday night's comeback game just as seriously.
TCU reports to the Lloyd Noble Center with a 10-13 record. Before shocking Kansas last week, there were murmurs about the Horned Frogs being the worst team in Big 12 Conference history.
As it is, they are 1-9 in the league after Saturday's 63-50 loss to West Virginia. The Frogs shot 36 percent, making 4-of-19 3s and 12-of-20 free throws. They turned the ball over 16 times while recording just six assists.
This seemed to be more like the TCU team headed for a 10-seed in the Big 12 tournament.
It's just that the Sooners won't see them that way.
"They beat (Kansas), too. That's exactly how we have to look at it," guard Je'lon Hornbeak said. "They're a good team. They held them to (29.5 percent) shooting, which is unheard of for a Kansas team. We're really going to have to execute offensively."
Need more reason to believe Monday night's game could get interesting?
"I remember playing against (TCU coach) Trent Johnson when he was at LSU my freshman year at Mississippi State," OU forward Romero Osby said. "He got them all the way to No. 10 in the country. He knows what he's doing, and he's got some pieces that really help them."
Kruger won't mind hearing that. He was trying to low-key OU's win over Kansas within a half hour of its conclusion.
"It's a step, but it's a small step," he said. "There are a lot of steps necessary."
Beating TCU is another one. It would make the Sooners 16-7 overall and 7-4 in the conference. You like those numbers, plus an RPI of 21, if you're thinking NCAA Tournament.
Teams thinking postseason can't afford hangovers.
Put it another way besides the Texas football analogy: The last OU team to beat Kansas before Saturday was the 2005 Sooners. They knocked off the eighth-ranked Jayhawks, then won their next three games by an average of 26 points en route to an NCAA 3-seed.
"Oh, we're amped," Hornbeak insisted. "We want to keep winning. We're trying to go to the tournament. We know that every game means so much more than the one before. It doesn't matter who we're playing."
TCU (10-13, 1-9 Big 12)
Oklahoma (15-7, 6-4)
*assists per game
6 p.m. Monday
Radio: KTBZ am1430
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Two days after a big win over Kansas, OU coach Lon Kruger and the Sooners return to action. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press
OU forward Romero Osby (left) and guard Steven Pledger celebrate at the end of the Sooners' win over Kansas on Saturday afternoon in Norman. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press
OU guard Buddy Hield shoots between Kansas guard Travis Releford (left) and center Jeff Withey in the second half Saturday. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press