There’s a reason Sooners’ coach Lon Kruger doesn’t use the phrase non-conference. Instead, he calls these past 12 games “pre-conference” games.
Because everything leads up to now.
“We know how tough conference play is going to be,” Kruger said. “Obviously, guys are looking forward to that challenge.”
Oklahoma (9-3) has plenty of challenges ahead of them in the next coming weeks. The Big 12 Conference, which has six teams ranked in the top 25 and TCU ranked 26th, appears to be the deepest conference in the country.
There’s still Kansas, the reigning champion for the past decade, but it seems as though the Jayhawks’ string of titles might finally end this year.
That’s not good news for Oklahoma specifically, because right now, there might be four different teams not named Kansas that could win the title.
Both are ranked in the top 20.
Based on the current AP Top 25, Oklahoma will never go more than two games without playing a ranked team – and it’ll only play back-to-back non-ranked teams twice.
In one of those instances, the Sooners play rival Oklahoma State on the road. The other draws a matchup with TCU, which is currently undefeated.
“I think we have a good starting point,” Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield said. “. . . We just keep getting better. We’ve been ready. We’ve been waiting for this moment – conference time.
“We have something to prove. We have to just take it one game at a time. It starts with Baylor on Saturday, and we go from there.”
The Sooners came into this season with high enough expectations, which only grew when TaShawn Thomas became eligible.
Those dreams start now.
Kruger has said for a while now that he likes the Sooners’ “starting point.” He has enough years on his resume to know that a starting point is exactly that.
“There are so many teams in the Big 12. The ones that keep making progress, understand the need to do that, are the ones that are going to separate themselves in the top half,” Kruger said. “That’s what everyone in the conference wants to do.”