John E. Hoover: It's good to see Bedlam basketball is good again
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Saturday, February 16, 2013
2/16/13 at 7:27 AM
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has them itching for a rematch.
John E. Hoover: Good to see Bedlam basketball is good again.
Go to John E. Hoover's blog.Original Print Headline: Good to see Bedlam basketball is good again
BEDLAM BASKETBALL fans, you got your wish. Your teams - both teams - are good again.
Saturday's Oklahoma-Oklahoma State showdown in Stillwater marks the first time since 2005 that both teams have fewer than nine losses going into their second meeting.
It's been that long.
The Sooners are 16-7 overall, 7-4 in Big 12 Conference play. The Cowboys are 18-5 and 8-3. Barring a catastrophic collapse, this will be the just the second time since '05 that both teams land a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Good basketball is fun basketball. Good Bedlam is pure joy.
Attendance has been in steady decline ever since Kelvin Sampson and Eddie Sutton last matched wits in 2006, and blame for that odious phenomenon has been like a pea in a shell game: it's the Thunder, it's ticket prices, it's the rise of OSU football, it's the proliferation of games on TV, it's Jeff Capel's offense, it's Sutton blowback, it's Travis Ford resistance - make up whatever excuse fits your mood.
But the reality is that the pea never moved. It's been hiding under the biggest shell in the game: bad basketball.
Want proof? OSU announced Friday morning that Saturday's game is officially a sellout. For the Cowboys, that officially will be the second sellout of the season, though a few thousand empty seats remained for the New Year's Eve game against Gonzaga.
At last year's game in Stillwater, played between teams that finished 15-16 (OU) and 15-18 (OSU), only 9,478 tickets were sold.
The last official Bedlam sellout in Stillwater happened in 2009, when it was Blake Griffin and Willie Warren versus Keiton Page and James Anderson.
This year, OSU's ticket office says, expect a full house, 13,611. In its press release, OSU officials "highly suggest that attendees arrive early for the 12:30 pm tipoff." Maybe they think the old-timers have forgotten. Or maybe they think it's been so long that an entirely new generation of fans has no idea what a truly packed Gallagher-Iba Arena feels like.
Indeed, if you build it, they will come - "it" being quality hoops.
The Cowboys are ranked No. 17. Oklahoma is "receiving votes" (OK, one). Both teams recently put the hurt on Big 12 frontrunner Kansas. Both teams own stirring victories over preseason darling Baylor.
The Sooners prevailed 77-68 over OSU in their earlier meeting, Jan. 12 in Norman.
In that game, OU built a 14-point lead, then had to withstand an OSU rally, suggesting at the time that maybe Lon Kruger's reclamation project, now in its second season, is a bit ahead of schedule.
And since that loss, OSU has won six in a row and seven out of eight, suggesting that maybe Ford, after a couple of difficult seasons, does have the recruiting chops to reestablish OSU as a consistent power player.
Remember the epic collisions between Sampson's and Sutton's teams?
In the 11 seasons between when Sampson arrived in 1994-95 and when both coaches left after 2005-06, OU made the NCAA Tournament 10 times and OSU made it nine times. Each team went to the Elite Eight three times. The Cowboys participated in two Final Fours, the Sooners one.
In 10 of the 26 Bedlam meetings during that 12-year span, both teams were ranked at tipoff. Oklahoma averaged 23.3 victories per season, and Oklahoma State averaged 22.7. The series over that stretch was split 13-13.
In 10 of their 14 meetings over the previous six seasons, neither team was ranked. OU averaged 18.5 wins (including 13 victories in 2008-09 that were later vacated by NCAA sanctions) during that span, while OSU averaged 19.8. OU leads the series 8-6.
This season, both teams are looking at the likelihood of 20 regular-season wins. And maybe a postseason run. And finally, some national respect.
Finally, Bedlam basketball is good again.