Sooners Hope to Right Road Ship at Reed Arena

NORMAN, Okla. — When the Sooners head into College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies this weekend, they'll attempt to do something they've struggled mightily with in recent days: win a conference road game.

In fact, dating back to early March 2009, the Sooners have lost 18 of their last 19 conference games on the road.

The sole victory came last year against Iowa State in an 82-76 overtime decision in Ames.

Other than that, it's been gloomy.

The Sooners have been outscored by a ridiculous spread of 77.5-61.6 in those 18 losses.

They've lost by double digits 14 times, including by 20 or more six times and 30 or more twice.

So, to say it's been an uphill battle away from Lloyd Noble Center in Big 12 play would be an understatement.

But the team insists if they control the things they can control, including sticking together, playing with grit, determination and poise, they can go in there and get the job done.

"We've got to know that we're going in 14 deep," said point guard Sam Grooms. "You know, that's all we have and the fans that come with us. We got to stick together no matter what run they make or however loud it gets in the gym. We just got to stick to our game plan and believe in whatever Coach [Lon Kruger] tells us to do that night and know that it's going to work in the best of our favor if we do it the correct way."

"It's gonna take a tough mindset, tough attitude," said guard Carl Blair. "We got to go out there and know it's us against the world. Nobody's going to be there to support us. We gotta go out there and take it. That's plain and simple. They're not going to give it to us. They were picked to win this conference. They're probably looking down on us like, ‘We got to get this win.' You know, we got to go out there and take it, just plain and simple."

Sharpshooting guard Steven Pledger, the team's leading scorer with 17.3 points per game, offered up this:

"We just have to stay focused and do what we have to do. If we do what we need to do and do the things that we know we can do, don't deviate from the game plan and things like that, [we can win]."

As one can imagine, wins in College Station have been just as tough as most of the other Big 12 environments lately.

Four of OU's last five tries there have been setbacks.

The last time OU defeated Texas A&M on the road was a 69-63 win back in 2009, sandwiched around a pair of losses in the two years before and after that.

So, the Sooners have had their fair share of troubles against the Aggies on the road.

One thing that could help them out, however, is momentum.

It's often downplayed, but a team's psyche does play a part in what transpires game after game.

A&M has dropped four of its first five since starting conference play and sits ahead of only Texas Tech in the conference standings.

Additionally, the Aggies have been losers in six of their last eight contests overall.

Meanwhile, OU had a mini slump where it lost four of five, including its first three conference battles, but has emerged victorious in the two games since.

One of those was a win over then-No. 18 Kansas State.

That is to say, OU has much more momentum and is probably feeling better about itself heading into the game.

"It helps only in that we feel good about what we've been able to reinforce," Kruger said. "You know, but as far as when the game starts, it's a matter of a whole new challenge and you got to line up and--you feel good about what you're capable of doing but understand that you have to make it happen. It doesn't just happen. I think that's the message consistently is, you know, you've won a couple, but it didn't just happen.

"You got to make it happen now. You got to make it happen again. Those two don't get us any points in the next one, and that's important that we look at it as independent challenges."

Still, having some momentum does play an impact.

Completely ignoring that fact would be quite ignorant.

"Going into conference play now after 0-3, winning two in a row is big for us, really big," Grooms said. "You know, confidence levels go back to where they were at, just team chemistry goes back to where it was at. When you're losing, people tend to wonder why we're losing or you have people outside of teams saying stuff and I think that it just helps us a lot."

Kruger knows that as well, but ultimately realizes it's the next game that matters and what transpires in that one that determines who ends up victorious.

That's what he's tried to instill in his club leading into Saturday's 3 p.m. battle at Reed Arena.

"We're going into this game off two wins, which helps to a certain degree," Kruger said. "But when a certain game starts, A&M doesn't care. It doesn't mean anything. We got to line up, win battles within the game, have great possessions defensively and offensively and just compete to take care of our responsibilities."

If OU manages to do so, it could become a victor for just the second time in its previous 20 attempts in conference play away from home and move back to .500 in the Big 12 standings.

If not, well, the struggles will continue.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories

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Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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In fact, dating back to early March 2009, the Sooners have lost 18 of their last 19 conference games on the road.

The sole victory came last year against Iowa State in an 82-76 overtime decision in Ames.

Other than that, it's been gloomy.

The Sooners have been outscored by a ridiculous spread of 77.5-61.6 in those 18 losses.

They've lost by double digits 14 times, including by 20 or more six times and 30 or more twice.

So, to say it's been an uphill battle away from Lloyd Noble Center in Big 12 play would be an understatement.

But the team insists if they control the things they can control, including sticking together, playing with grit, determination and poise, they can go in there and get the job done.

\"We've got to know that we're going in 14 deep,\" said point guard Sam Grooms. \"You know, that's all we have and the fans that come with us. We got to stick together no matter what run they make or however loud it gets in the gym. We just got to stick to our game plan and believe in whatever Coach [Lon Kruger] tells us to do that night and know that it's going to work in the best of our favor if we do it the correct way.\"

\"It's gonna take a tough mindset, tough attitude,\" said guard Carl Blair. \"We got to go out there and know it's us against the world. Nobody's going to be there to support us. We gotta go out there and take it. That's plain and simple. They're not going to give it to us. They were picked to win this conference. They're probably looking down on us like, ‘We got to get this win.' You know, we got to go out there and take it, just plain and simple.\"

Sharpshooting guard Steven Pledger, the team's leading scorer with 17.3 points per game, offered up this:

\"We just have to stay focused and do what we have to do. If we do what we need to do and do the things that we know we can do, don't deviate from the game plan and things like that, [we can win].\"

As one can imagine, wins in College Station have been just as tough as most of the other Big 12 environments lately.

Four of OU's last five tries there have been setbacks.

The last time OU defeated Texas A&M on the road was a 69-63 win back in 2009, sandwiched around a pair of losses in the two years before and after that.

So, the Sooners have had their fair share of troubles against the Aggies on the road.

One thing that could help them out, however, is momentum.

It's often downplayed, but a team's psyche does play a part in what transpires game after game.

A&M has dropped four of its first five since starting conference play and sits ahead of only Texas Tech in the conference standings.

Additionally, the Aggies have been losers in six of their last eight contests overall.

Meanwhile, OU had a mini slump where it lost four of five, including its first three conference battles, but has emerged victorious in the two games since.

One of those was a win over then-No. 18 Kansas State.

That is to say, OU has much more momentum and is probably feeling better about itself heading into the game.

\"It helps only in that we feel good about what we've been able to reinforce,\" Kruger said. \"You know, but as far as when the game starts, it's a matter of a whole new challenge and you got to line up and--you feel good about what you're capable of doing but understand that you have to make it happen. It doesn't just happen. I think that's the message consistently is, you know, you've won a couple, but it didn't just happen.

\"You got to make it happen now. You got to make it happen again. Those two don't get us any points in the next one, and that's important that we look at it as independent challenges.\"

Still, having some momentum does play an impact.

Completely ignoring that fact would be quite ignorant.

\"Going into conference play now after 0-3, winning two in a row is big for us, really big,\" Grooms said. \"You know, confidence levels go back to where they were at, just team chemistry goes back to where it was at. When you're losing, people tend to wonder why we're losing or you have people outside of teams saying stuff and I think that it just helps us a lot.\"

Kruger knows that as well, but ultimately realizes it's the next game that matters and what transpires in that one that determines who ends up victorious.

That's what he's tried to instill in his club leading into Saturday's 3 p.m. battle at Reed Arena.

\"We're going into this game off two wins, which helps to a certain degree,\" Kruger said. \"But when a certain game starts, A&M doesn't care. It doesn't mean anything. We got to line up, win battles within the game, have great possessions defensively and offensively and just compete to take care of our responsibilities.\"

If OU manages to do so, it could become a victor for just the second time in its previous 20 attempts in conference play away from home and move back to .500 in the Big 12 standings.

If not, well, the struggles will continue.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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