Oklahoma basketball: Sooners one-and-done in Big 12 Tournament

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 07: Brandon Averette
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 07: Brandon Averette /

Oklahoma basketball may have played itself right out of the NCAA Tournament…for real, this time.

And worse, it was rival Oklahoma State that delivered the potentially lethal blow. The mystery and misery continues for the men’s Oklahoma basketball program.

Trae Young scored a team-high 22 points for the Sooners, but got little help from his teammates, as the Cowboys held off a late OU rally to defeat their Bedlam rival 71-60 in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday in Kansas City.

The Cowboys led by 11 at the half and widened their advantage to 16 five minutes into the second half. An Oklahoma rally, fueled by back-to-back three-pointers by Young and a three-ball by fellow freshman Brady Manek, cut the Oklahoma State advantage to 52-46 midway through the second half.

Oklahoma State maintained a five- or six-point margin up until the six-minute mark of the second half. The Sooners went cold from the field at that point, missing nine of their next 10 shots. Meanwhile, the Cowboys stretched the lead back out to 11 points, at 64-53, and at that point the OU fuel tank was running on empty.

The Cowboys led from wire to wire, which has become more the norm than the exception over Oklahoma’s last three losses away from Norman. Once again the Sooners struggled knocking down shots consistently, and in this game they were also beaten badly on the backboards as Oklahoma State doubled up on the Sooners in rebounding.

Oklahoma State outrebounded the Sooners 53-27, including 18-5 on the offensive glass. OU held the Cowboys to 39.1-percent shooting, a solid defensive effort, but Oklahoma State scored 19 second-chance points to just two for the Sooners. That stat alone pretty much tells the story of this game.

Kameron McGriff led OSU in scoring with 18 points. Jeffrey Carroll added 15 and Kendall Smith had 11.

Aside from Young’s 22 points, Rashard Odomes was the only other Sooner who reached double digits, with 12 points. Christian James and Kameron McGusty have been mainstays in the Oklahoma offense in recent games, but on Wednesday they combined for just six points.

The Sooners’ struggles away from home have now reached 10 consecutive road losses. Oklahoma averages 86.0 points a game, best in the Big 12 and fourth best in the country. Yet in their last nine games, the Sooners have scored 80 or more points just twice. This is hardly the same Oklahoma offense that was on display over the first half of the season

The Sooners have now lost 10 consecutive games away from home, and they have lost eight of their last 10 games, including two at home. These are not the kind of credentials that the NCAA Tournament looks favorably upon. This loss, the second by Oklahoma State this season, may be the final nail in Oklahoma’s chances of making it into the NCAA Tournament.

We won’t know how that works out until Sunday, but the Sooners certainly have not looked NCAA Tournament worthy over the last six to eight weeks. It is almost unfathomable to think that this team was once 14-2 and ranked in the nation’s top 10. Since then, OU has won just four more games, while losing 11 times.

The postseason fate of the OU men’s basketball team is now in the hands of the NCAA Basketball Tournament selection committee. And if you ask me, that’s not a good place to be right now.