OU basketball: Home-court advantage has been of nail-biter variety lately

NORMAN, OK - FEBRUARY 05: Trae Young
NORMAN, OK - FEBRUARY 05: Trae Young /

The home-court dominance of men’s OU basketball this season came to an end on Monday, with West Virginia shutting down everyone not named Trae Young and edging the Sooners 75-73.

Although not feeling 100 percent, the Sooner freshman superstar still scored a game-high 32 points, but didn’t get much help from his supporting cast, and that pretty much sums up the story of the game.

Before Tuesday night, Oklahoma had won 14 consecutive games at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners’ last home loss was one year ago, almost to the day, to the same West Virginia team that prevailed on Tuesday.

The Sooners were a perfect 11-0 at home this season before West Virginia ended the string. But truth be told, OU’s home-court mastery has been in serious jeopardy on several occasions since Big 12 play got underway.

In Oklahoma’s last three home games before the loss to West Virginia – against TCU, Kansas and Baylor – the Sooners margin of victory was a combined 12 points, and they easily could have lost all three.

It took double overtime for the Sooners to dispose of TCU on Jan. 13. TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher had a chance to win it for the Horned Frogs in regulation, but missed a layup at the buzzer that sent the game to overtime.

Against fifth-ranked Kansas on Jan. 23, , Oklahoma held a two-point lead at halftime, but the Jayhawks came out after the break, quickly erased the deficit and took control of the game, leading most of the second half. With four minutes to go in the game, Kansas led the Sooners 78-74.

Kansas managed just two points the remainder of the game, however, while the Sooners scored 11 on six free throws and a pair of three balls by true freshmen Trae Young and Brady Manek. The late-game rally resulted in an 85-80 win over the 13-time defending Big 12 champions.

On Jan. 30, OU hosted unranked Baylor. The game was fairly close throughout, although the Sooners led most of the way. With just over a minute remaining, however, a Baylor three-pointer put the Bears out in front 96-93. Oklahoma scored the next five points to take a two-point lead.

Baylor’s King McClure, the player who hit the three-pointer to give the Bears a three-point advantage, missed a desperation three that would have won the game as the horn sounded.

So as disappointing as it was to come up two points short at home against West Virginia this week, there were signs in the three previous home games that something like this was coming. It just hadn’t caught up with the Sooners yet. When you’re winning, not much else matters.

Now that the home-court win streak is over, the Sooners need to put it behind them, get back to business and, with six games remaining, three of them at home, get started on a new winning streak.