OU continues to win ugly

Sooners learning but not falling behind conference race

The last two games for Oklahoma have been anything but perfect, they’ve both come with one great bright spot. Games against Texas and Texas Tech both ended in victories, even though there were great stretches when the Sooners were playing poorly.

The old adage that one of the best results in sports is a bad win. The game doesn’t hurt, but it does just enough to damage to keep a team focus.

“Win and get better at this point,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “You always like to identify things in games that you’d like to do better. . . . When you win a game at this time of year, you get back to practice and try to get better.”

There were plenty of things for No. 16 Oklahoma (19-8, 10-5 Big 12), which is just one game out of first place in the Big 12 Conference, to correct after winning the last two games by a combined six points.

The Sooners have won seven of their last eight games, getting a late wake-up call unlike the last two they had earlier this season.

Kansas State shocked Oklahoma just three games into the conference season after the Sooners pulled off two big victories. Then, the Wildcats beat Oklahoma again but it didn’t have the same lasting effect.

“Definitely, we feel like we have a chance to do something great here,” Oklahoma guard Frank Booker said. “We’re really in a pack where you win one, you keep going. If you lose one, you back with the bottom. You have to keep moving.”

A sluggish start nearly doomed Oklahoma against Texas. The Sooners managed to rally for their first victory by less than eight points against Texas.

Kruger’s first overtime victory as the Sooners’ head coach came a few days later, albeit completely unwelcomed. Oklahoma allowed Texas Tech to shoot 59.1 percent, the highest mark of any opponent this season for the Sooners, who average allowing just 37.9 percent -12th best in the nation.

Those two late scares, which would have taken Oklahoma out of contention for the conference championship, have helped refocus the Sooners without taking them out of the conversation.

“It makes you re-consider that you can’t just look over any team,” Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas said. “You can’t go in there like, ‘This team, look at their record, we’re going to beat them.’ You’ll get upset, especially in the Big 12. There’s been a whole bunch of Big 12 upsets.

“It’s just a mindset thing. You’ve got to go in ready and not looking at each other’s records.”

Oklahoma has one of those opponents Saturday. TCU, which has won three of its past four games, could be easily tossed aside, having lost 11 games in Big 12 play.

The idea though is that the past two games have helped the Sooners realize that they are far from perfect. In fact, unless Oklahoma is at the top of its game, it has a chance to not even be good.

“Coach was telling us that we can’t play like that and expect to win the Big 12 Championship. It was kind of a learning process: To keep playing hard and stuff like that. I feel like just coming away from it, we got those two bigs; those two big wins. Hopefully, we can just build momentum going into this game on Saturday.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories