Where are the Sooners now?
Saturday, while the women proved how bad they're still capable of being, the men proved they're too good to have lost 7 of 8, though they can't un-lose them now
Maybe you knew the Oklahoma women were in big trouble long before they fell behind Saturday night in Austin.
Texas turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, a quarter in which the Sooners knocked down 50 percent of their shots … to lead by a point?
If that realization managed to slip by, just skip ahead to Texas’ second possession of the second half.
Joanne Allen-Taylor missed.
Allen-Taylor grabbed the rebound.
Shay Holle missed.
Lauren Ebo grabbed the rebound.
The basket put the Lady Horns up a point, yet far more troubling, those two offensive rebounds were Texas’ 15th and 16th of the game.
At that moment, OU had grabbed 12 rebounds, total. If you’d never heard of a team grabbing more offensive rebounds than the other team grabbed rebounds, period, now you have … well, almost.
By game’s end, a 78-63 victory for the 16th-ranked Lady Horns over the 12th-ranked Sooners, the board numbers were only almost as bad: Texas on top 45-23, which is ridiculous, but OU finally grabbing as many rebounds, total, as its opponent grabbed offensive boards.
Now, please don’t mistake this rebounding tangent as remotely the only reason the Sooners lost, because there were lots of them, because they were terrible.
So bad, it leads to an awful thought.
Presuming somebody else wins the national championship, however OU’s season ends, whenever and wherever it ends, if it ends like that, like first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk’s players had been snatched by zombie imposters instead, their fantastic and amazing season prior to that moment will suddenly feel hollow, because good teams just can’t not show up like that.
So that was the nightcap of Saturday’s day-night Sooners-on-the-road doubleheader.
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The opener, a game OU’s men maybe should have won, even at eighth-ranked Kansas, begs an interesting question.
Is there such a thing as a retroactive tease, because that’s what happened in Lawrence Saturday afternoon, where the Sooners were so good and did so much right, only to fall 71-69 to the eighth-ranked Jayhawks, all it felt good for was a reminder OU never, ever, should have lost 7 of 8, tumbling toward the Big 12’s cellar where, where it’s now in only front of West Virginia and once-thought-stellar Iowa State.
Umoja Gibson had netted 30 points three days earlier, handing the Sooners a desperately needed victory over ninth-ranked Texas Tech, but didn’t score a point against the Jayhawks, mostly because he’s 6-foot-1, maybe, Kansas is bigger everywhere and the Jayhawks wanted to make somebody else beat them, which dang near happened.
Jordan Goldwire netted a career-high 20 points and two huge 3-pointers near the end that wound up giving OU a chance to tie it at the buzzer despite, after leading most of the game, falling behind by eight points with 92 seconds remaining.
Tanner Groves (19 points, five boards, five assists) was terrific, as was Jalen Hill (10 and seven rebounds).
Why, oh, why, is this team 4-8 in its conference?
For clues, recall how OU finally fell behind in the second half, by taking a 57-52 edge with 10:18 remaining only to suffer nine straight empty trips down the court, not scoring again until 2:30 remained to trail by six.
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If you can believe it, Baranczyk’s team arrived in Austin Saturday, really, a top-10 team.
Ranked 13th by the AP’s media voters, the NCAA selection committee made OU No. 9 behind South Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina State, Louisville, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa State and Indiana in its most recent Top-16. It made Baylor No. 10 and Texas No. 15, too.
If the Sooners can go 2-0 this week by topping Texas Tech in Norman and Iowa State in Ames, they might find themselves in the top eight, angling for a No. 2 seed at the NCAA Tournament.
They just can’t die again like they died in Austin, turning it over 21 times, getting killed on the boards, failing to even run their offense against the Lady Horns after the half, much less turn it into points.
It shouldn’t ever happen.
It can’t happen again.
All that and Baranczyk, who wonderfully, and perhaps strategically, took her first technical foul* in the third quarter, might want to do something about her turnover-to-timeout ratio, too, because it was 9 to 1 in the third quarter, while her team was being outscored 27 to 6.
*This means, I think, for the first time in at least 25-plus seasons, OU’s women’s basketball coach was levied with a technical foul, because I’m pretty sure Sherri Coale had none in 25 seasons.
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• • •
The men need more of the same and have to hope it’s not too late.
Seven conference wins, three more, feels like an absolute minimum, eight is better, nine is deliverance, but where might they find them?
After Texas in Norman on Tuesday and Iowa State in Ames on Saturday, the rest of the slate’s at Tech, home Bedlam, West Virginia, at Kansas State.
They ought to get three. Four is dicey.
Probably shouldn’t have lost 7 of 8.
At least, for the first time in a long time, their game plan can be more of what they’ve been doing.
It’s a start.