OU Sooner basketball on different paths since start of Big 12 play

Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA

The two OU Sooner basketball teams have traded places since the Big 12 schedule tipped off in late December.

The Sooner men completed the nonconference portion of the 2023-24 season with a 12-1 record and added a 13th win in their Big 12 opener, defeating an Iowa State team that currently ranks No. 10 in the country in this week's Associated Press Top 25.

The Lady Sooners, meanwhile, started the season by winning their first five games before losing five of the next six games, including an embarrassing 79-70 loss at home to Southern, a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference that had won just once in 10 games before playing Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma women began the team's final Big 12 season with a mediocre 6-5 overall record. Since then, however, the Sooners have won 12 of 13, including a current nine-game win streak, and carved out a two-game separation at the top of the conference standings with five regular-season games remaining. Seven of their 12 conference wins have been by double digits. That includes an 84-73 victory over No, 21 Baylor on Wednesday night.

The Sooner men, with six newcomers and two starters courtesy of the transfer portal, enjoyed their best start to the season since the 2015-16 season. Two-thirds the way through the Big 12 schedule, though, OU is six up and six down in conference play, and its overall record has fallen to 18-7. The Sooners' final six games include three top-10 teams (Kansas, Iowa State and Houston), at Oklahoma State, at Texas and at home against Cincinnati. Porter Moser's OU squad probably needs to win at least two of the six remaining games to earn an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament. And that won't be an easy task.

For the surging Lady Sooners, a third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth appears well in hand and also a ninth Big 12 championship and second in succession, which would be especially sweet this being Oklahoma final season as a member of the Big 12.

The season prospects for these two Oklahoma teams appeared to be very different at the beginning of the conference season. In the past seven weeks, however, the Sooner men and women have crossed over each other and completely switched sides and season outlooks: one team with a probable conference title in the offing; the other fighting to prove the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll wrong, which had the OU men finishing 12th out of the 14 league teams, despite a three-to-five game improvement in the overall win column.