John Klein: Intense Bedlam battle is reminder of what rivalry used to be like
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 8:21 AM
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OSU basketball notebook: Then vs. now
OU basketball notebook: Wild game for Grooms
OSU outlasts OU for wild win in OT
Little things end up hurting OU in Bedlam loss
Original Print Headline: Intense battle is reminder of what Bedlam used to be
STILLWATER - That's why they call it Bedlam.
That's why Gallagher-Iba Arena remains one of great homes of college basketball.
"That definitely felt like a classic," said Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.
O-State has been trying to "bring the rowdy back" to Gallagher-Iba. All it took was a visit from Oklahoma for a significant game.
"This time of year you want to be in big games, and that was definitely a big game," said OSU coach Travis Ford.
Oklahoma, a clear underdog, played well enough to win. Oklahoma State, the favorite, figured out a way to win, something it has been doing a lot lately.
"That was a very fun game," said OSU's Markel Brown. "We've got a little winning streak going now."
The Sooners were on the verge of a season-changing victory, but Oklahoma State's stars, Smart and Le'Bryan Nash, rescued the Cowboys.
"It felt like an old Bedlam game," said OU's Sam Grooms. "It was loud and it was intense."
In a reminder of what Bedlam used to be and is once again, OSU stormed back from five points down in the final three minutes of regulation and then accelerated past the Sooners in overtime, 84-79, Saturday at Gallagher-Iba.
"That was a big-time battle," said OU coach Lon Kruger. "A lot of guys made big-time plays."
The arena was packed, loud and frenzied to the finish.
"I was trying to talk to my teammates and I couldn't hear myself talk," said Nash. "It was great."
Nash scored seven of his 26 points in overtime, then the sensational Smart, who had 28, controlled the final seconds with a block and two clinching free throws.
"Everybody made a big play when it counted," said Ford. "It was a bunch of big plays and it wasn't one guy."
It was a terrific game with dozens of huge plays, swings of momentum and drama.
"It was a great atmosphere," said OU's Romero Osby.
The Sooners, 16-8 but now dropping back to 7-5 in the Big 12, were equal or better against the Cowboys for most of this game.
Oklahoma survived a bad start, going down by 11 early in the game, but rallied to lead 35-27 at halftime.
"It just goes to show we can play with the better teams in the country," said Osby.
Despite OSU's repeated surges early in the second half, the Sooners remained in control and in the lead for much of the half.
But the Cowboys have been in a lot of tight spots this season. They've been in difficult, tight games decided in the final moments.
"They are making me grayer and grayer by the day," said Ford.
The Cowboys are also making him happier by the day.
OSU (19-5) has won seven straight and took the Big 12 lead ahead of Kansas and Kansas State, which played Saturday night. The Cowboys still have Kansas (on Wednesday) and K-State (March 9) coming to Stillwater.
"That's a really good Oklahoma State team," said Kruger.
Yet, the Sooners appeared on the verge of an upset for most of this game. The Sooners, at different points in the game, got terrific production from a trio of players. Osby had 18 points, including OU's last eight points in regulation. Steven Pledger also had 18 points, including five quick points to open the second half. Sam Grooms also had 18 points, a career high.
"I have a lot of respect for OU's team," said Ford. "It is one of our toughest matchups.
"They took it to us down there in Norman. They took it to us in this game, but we responded."
The Cowboys have several difference-makers, but none better than Smart. When the Cowboys needed a big play or a steady hand, Smart took over.
"He's been terrific all season," said Kruger. "He impacts the game in so many ways.
"He is really one of the outstanding players in the country."
Smart and Nash combined to score 54 of OSU's 84 points.
When the Cowboys get that kind of production from their biggest stars, and a handful of big plays from others, they are hard to beat.
That's why Oklahoma should be encouraged. The Sooners were right there until OSU's final flurry in the last 53 seconds of overtime.
"We'll learn from this and grow," said Grooms.
The victory sets up a huge Big 12 showdown for the Cowboys against Kansas on Wednesday night. There are a handful of significant goals on the line, including moving up on the NCAA Tournament brackets and the Big 12 Conference regular-season title.
The Cowboys have now won four games during this current win streak that came down to the final seconds.
"We don't always do it pretty a lot of times," said Ford. "But we have won in a lot of different ways this season."
Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown (right) and Oklahoma forward Romero Osby (left) hustle for a loose ball in Oklahoma State's 84-79 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series at Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater. KT KING / For the Tulsa World