Hield flashed his teeth while forward Ryan Spangler talked about finally breaking through for a late-game victory, and point guard Jordan Woodard told the gathered group of reporters about the importance of picking up a big win on the road despite falling behind early.
When Hield spoke, it was like he didn’t care, like it didn’t matter.
“We can't get too high,” Hield said. “The last time, we had a win like Texas, and we were up so high, and we lost two back to back. We've got to stay positive and stay calm as a group.”
Oklahoma (14-7, 5-4) couldn’t have started the Big 12 Conference season much better – a big home win against Baylor and a massive road win against Texas, which many thought would be the team to finally unseat Kansas.
The Sooners knew those were big wins, and although the messages around practice was all the same, the tone in which Oklahoma declared that it couldn’t get too high wasn’t convincing.
On Saturday night, Hield meant it.
“We've got a tough one on Tuesday against West Virginia,” Hield said. “They're going to be scrapping. We've got to come out with a lot of energy for them.”
Not even 10 minutes of celebration for one of the most important wins of the season. There were a few raised hands and even Hield tossed the ball ever so slightly into the air after the final buzzer sounded but no big celebrations.
Oklahoma learned a few lessons about itself Saturday night, including how to pull out a game late – or maybe more so that it can pull out a game late.
By the time they reached the post-game press conference though, they’d moved on from the victory.
“As guys said all along, it's just one game nine more times,” Kruger said. “That's the nature of the Big 12. It's a great league.
“Like Buddy says, can't celebrate too long because West Virginia's one of the leaders in the conference and they're coming into our place on Tuesday so this group will handle that well.”
What emerged after Texas was four losses in the next five games that sent the Sooners on a downward spiral just below the basement of the Big 12. The two road victories against Oklahoma’s two biggest rivals were similar though. Both times, Oklahoma was stout inside – shutting down Texas’ frontcourt and fouling out Oklahoma State’s.
They shared the basketball on both nights. Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler had a career-high six assists, more than the entire Oklahoma State team.
“When people hit shots, it makes everything look easy,” Spangler said. “When you pass it to each other and people hit shots like they did (Saturday), it’s gonna make it easy for us,” Spangler said. “That’s what we did.”
So leave the game in the past but take the lessons forward for West Virginia, which routed Oklahoma by 21 points less than a month ago. The good feelings aren’t going away, though.
“We feel a lot better about being 5-4 right now,” said Kruger, whose team will play four of its final nine games on the road, including trips to Texas Tech and TCU. “The next two days of practice in preparation for West Virginia will be a little different spirit in practice as opposed to being 4-5.”