OU fights for state bragging rights

Sooners face Tulsa on Saturday, Oral Roberts next week

When he was being recruited coming out of Bridge Creek High School in Blanchard, Sooners forward Ryan Spangler was never recruit by Oklahoma.

Tulsa wanted him – for a time on the football field and the basketball court.

The Sooners just never came calling until coach Lon Kruger took over, and Spangler came back from his first choice school – Gonzaga.

Oklahoma point guard Jordan Woodard is the same way, having a little bit of a pull to attend Tulsa instead of Oklahoma. Woodard’s older brother, James, is a junior with the Golden Hurricane.

He also has a pair of former teammates playing at Oral Roberts, which comes to Norman next week.

For the next seven days, No.16 Oklahoma will have a chance to defend its state.

“They’re more important to take control of the state of Oklahoma and not let anybody beat us here,” Spangler said. “. . . Whoever is in Oklahoma is gonna get beat.”

Oklahoma (5-2) has won seven of the last nine games against in-state opponents since Kruger took over in Norman. The Sooners are playing the three major in-state schools (Tulsa, Oral Roberts and Oklahoma State) for the first time since 2005, when Oklahoma won all four games.

The Sooners finally have a chance to defend their title.

"It’s fun to compete against them," Woodard said.

Woodard won’t say anything to his brother if the Sooners win Saturday. Spangler says that’s not Woodard’s style, but the younger Woodard might get in a few parting shots.

“It’s bragging rights,” Spangler said of Saturday’s game in the Woodard household, which isn’t far from his home. “He had them last year in his household. I don’t think he wants James to be able to talk to him about that all over Christmas Break and the summer. He’ll be ready to go.”

Even though Spangler was recruited by Tulsa, he’s never been there for a basketball game. He never even met former Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship. It wasn’t a long process for Spangler looking into going to play for the Golden Hurricane.

He said it didn’t feel right. Spangler felt too much pressure.

Spangler, who missed large portions of the Tulsa game last year because of calf injuries, decided pretty quickly that he didn’t want to play both football and basketball. Instead, he left the state for Gonzaga.

He’s back in the state now, trying to put the one in-state that didn’t recruit him out of high school at the top of the list.

“They’ll try to beat us,” Spangler said. “It’s fun to put your name against each other and see who wins.”

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories