Oklahoma basketball: Bedlam rematch offers chance to right sinking ship

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 07: Cameron McGriff #12 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys dunks during the first round of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Sprint Center on March 7, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 07: Cameron McGriff #12 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys dunks during the first round of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Sprint Center on March 7, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

There’s no way around it. Men’s Oklahoma basketball has the heart and will to succeed this season, but the tools and necessary talent to get the job done just aren’t there.

And when one of the few key players you have goes down for the count, it only accentuates the problem.

In a conference as deep and talented and replete with ranked teams as the Big 12, you can ill afford an off night or to lose even one player off a seriously challenged roster, let alone a starter.

The OU men know they can’t use the season-ending injury to senior guard Elijah Harkless as an excuse, but the brutal fact is: In the two games since he was ruled out for the remainder of the season the Sooners have lost both games by an average of 22 points.

Both of those losses were on the road, however, and the 24-point beatdown at Texas Tech on Tuesday was against the country’s ninth-ranked team.

Oklahoma (14-14, 4-11) is back home for consecutive games, beginning Saturday, against Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Both of those games would have been considered clearly winnable a couple of weeks ago, but that was before what we’ve witnessed in the Sooners’ past two outings.

The OU offense lacks a true, go-to scorer. The Sooners have players who can hit shots, but not on a consistent basis, which is why we have seen extended OU scoring lapses in a number of games this season.

On Tuesday night against Texas Tech, not one Oklahoma player scored more than eight points. In the second half alone, the Sooners were outscored 37-20, which included scoring runs by the Red Raiders of 10-0 and 19-0.

Tanner Groves is Oklahoma’s leading scorer, averaging 12.1 points per game, but he has numerous games in which he scores five points or fewer. In OU’s last three games, he has averaged just over five points per contest.

Senior shooting guard Umoja Gibson scored 30 points in Oklahoma’s win over Texas Tech in Norman. Since then, his scoring numbers have been 0, 17, 4 and 5, respectively.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series against Oklahoma State 140-103 but has been on the short end of the scoreboard in the last four games between the two rivals. The Sooners have owned the home court in this series, however, with an 87-28 record against the Cowboys when they come to Norman, including wins in eight of the last 10.

The Sooners will be seeking a split in the 2021-22 season series. The Cowboys won the earlier game in Stillwater 64-55.

While Oklahoma is coming off a horrific two games away from home, Oklahoma State (13-14, 6-9) enters Saturday’s Bedlam rematch riding the momentum of an overtime win at home over Kansas State last Saturday followed by a near upset of No. 10 Baylor on Monday. The Cowboys led much of the game with Baylor, but the Bears tied it up late and sent the game to overtime with Baylor coming out on top 66-64.

The game on Saturday in Norman will be televised on CBS, with an 11 a.m. tip-off. Tom McCarthy and Chris Walker will be on the call.

What fans need to know about Saturday’s Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rematch

  • In the first meeting this season between these two teams, Tanner Groves had one of his better scoring games with 23 points and Elijah Harkless contributed 15 points, including three from beyond the three-point arc. These same two also combined for 15 rebounds. No other OU player scored more five points. Harkless is out for the season, and Groves has too many games when he disappears offensively.
  • Turnovers have been the Sooners’ single biggest problem all season long. They committed 17 in the earlier game this season with the Cowboys and that led to 13 Oklahoma State points. OU was turned over 20 times in the loss earlier this week at Texas Tech.
  • Oklahoma State forces a turnover on 22.7 percent of defensive possessions, which ranks as the 22nd best in NCAA Division I basketball.
  • Avery Anderson III is Oklahoma State’s leading scorer, averaging 11.7 points per game. Bryce Thompson is second in line with a 11.0 scoring average. These two combined for just 13 points in the first meeting with the Sooners.
  • Oklahoma State has the two best shot-blockers in the Big 12. Moussa Cisse leads the conference with 44 blocks this season (1.7 per game) and Kalib Boone has 29 (1.3 per game). The Cowboys rank 15th in the country in total blocks.
  • The Sooners are just 3-4 at home against Big 12 teams this season, but Oklahoma State is 1-6 on the road in the Big 12.
  • As of games of Feb. 24, Oklahoma ranks 47th in NCAA NET rankings; Oklahoma State is 55th.


As much as they are overdue for a winning performance, it’s hard to go with the Sooners in this game, especially the way they have played in the last two games. It came out in the local Oklahoma media this week that the Oklahoma State players refer to OU basketball as their “Little Brother,” in reference to the fact that a number of players on OSU’s current roster have never lost to the Sooners.

One thing is certain: Being called a little brother to Oklahoma State won’t sit well with fans of any and all Oklahoma Sooner sports Whether that’s enough motivation to fire up a worn-down and short-handed Oklahoma offense at home on Saturday against its second biggest rival, we’ll just have to wait and see. My mind speaks otherwise, but against what logic and recent history is telling me, I believe the Sooners will rise up at least one more time this season. And this is the remaining game that means the most to OU. Sooners pull it out late and win by two.