No. 6 Kansas at Oklahoma
8 p.m. Tuesday
NORMAN — College basketball is a tradition-rich sport.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas said the “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant in Allen Fieldhouse is one of the coolest traditions. After Oklahoma’s practice on Monday, the college basketball analyst added that he is big on fight songs. “Boomer Sooner” is one of the best, Bilas said, while Michigan’s “Hail to the Victors” is hard to top.
And then there are the mascots.
On Tuesday night, Oklahoma’s Top Daug will be reintroduced following a 16-year hiatus prior to the Sooners’ 8 p.m. game against Kansas at Lloyd Noble Center.
Explaining Top Daug to the current generation of OU fans can be difficult. Some on social media tried to help by relating the return of the Oklahoma mascot to the excitement when the miniature horse “Li’l Sebastian’ returned to the ‘Parks and Rec’ series.
Bilas smiled at the TV reference, adding that the mythical Indiana town of Pawnee is one of his favorite places. He’s looking forward to seeing how OU presents its mascot.
“Some of the stuff, the things that resonate with me more, was when I was younger,” Bilas said. “When you are a kid and that stuff is ingrained in you, it stays with you for a long time. I remember all that stuff from when I was a kid more than anything.”
Oklahoma’s marketing ploy will try to reach kids while also linking the program to the basketball program’s yesteryear of successful seasons.
Former OU coach Billy Tubbs called Top Daug “a great member of our team. He was exciting.”
Tubbs credited Jan Warner, a past president for the Tip-In Club, for bringing him to the OU sideline in the mid-1980s. The mascot moved over from the wrestling team.
The mascot’s name for the wrestling team was Underdog. Tubbs said he wanted the mascot to keep the same name because his program was still developing.
“Let’s do Underdog to start. We’re just starting this program. We’re not the Top Daug yet,” Tubbs recalled saying at the time. “We’re the underdog. Then we’ll name him (Top Daug) when we get to be the top of the conference. That’s exactly what we did. We had him for a couple of years as Underdog and as we grew in the conference, we called him Top Daug.
“I thought he was a big asset to our program and all of our spirit squad.”
The movement is a plunge back to “Billy-ball” when the Sooners were winning Big 8 championships and made a 1988 run to the national championship game.
This week’s look at nostalgia takes Tubbs back to an enjoyable period for his family.
“We had a lot of fun. We were usually the underdog in everything and pulled out some big wins. We went from an also-ran to a national power,” Tubbs said on Monday. “It’s great from time to time when people remember and think back on those days.”
Oklahoma (11-4, 2-1 in Big 12) will try to pair Top Daug’s resurrection with a home win over Kansas for the third straight season.
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses on Saturday. OU fell 81-68 at Iowa State, while Kansas dropped a 67-55 home game to Baylor.
Kansas (12-3, 2-1) hasn’t lost back-to-back Big 12 games since the 2012-13 season.
This will be the Sooners’ first game against a ranked opponent this season, but Austin Reaves said it’s important to stay on an even keel.
“You try to just go into every game the same way. Keep the same rituals, the same things you do every day and just do those and then let the game come to you,” Reaves said. “And then I think good things will happen.”