STILLWATER — As usual, the old place known as Gallegher-Iba Arena was rockin' like crazy tonight as the Bedlam basketball series was renewed for the 206th time. And as expected, 10th-ranked Oklahoma State held serve by holding off No. 16 Oklahoma, 79-67.
It's the third loss in four games for the Sooners, who despite shooting 54 percent from the field, fall to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in Big 12 action.
Kelvin Sampson's club, which beat the Cowboys 67-57 just two weeks ago, turned in a game effort that saw them overcome early foul trouble and stay within striking distance deep into the second half. But the Sooners hurt their own cause with another poor effort at the charity stripe and inconsistent defense on the perimeter.
Those two deficiencies were simply too much for Sampson's crew to overcome, especially in the hostile environment of GIA.
Still, there were plenty of positives to take away from the rematch, along with some obvious things the Sooners still need to work on. Let's explore:
*Positive — After getting into early foul trouble and playing soft while on the floor the first half, Kevin Bookout finally came out of a three-and-a-half game mystery shell by racking up 11 points and 7 rebounds after the intermission. He looked good on the block, pouring on several tough-angle hooks, and he was much more bullish on defense, despite collecting his third foul barely two minutes into the second half.
*Negative — Point man Drew Lavender never really got on track against the Aggies. His continued lack of good defense hurt the Sooners early and although he looked good in spurts, his consistency was absent again. He made a couple of foolish turnovers and was not much of a factor on offense.
*Positive — Despite dribbling his way into trouble on occasion, Terrell Everett continued to demonstrate his skills as a top-notch combo guard. He had 12 points and four assists, and was easily the Sooners' most effective guard against the Pokes. He had a pair of highlight reel buckets and played a tenacious brand of defense.
*Negative — Free throw shooting. The Sooners stunk it up from the line, going an embarrassing 5 of 12. It's an area Sampson's teams work extra hard on every practice, and yet this team has struggled all season. At one point of the second half, the Sooners missed 4 of 6 free throws, which proved costly as they tried to rally.
*Positive — Taj Gray continued to prove he is a force to be reckoned with, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight boards. He was solid at times defending Joey Graham, and continues to be a vocal leader on a young team in need of a go-to guy.
*Negative — Gray only managed to take eight shots (making six) all night. The guards have to find a way to get the rock in his hands more often.
*Positive — High energy. One of the problems the Sooners have been experiencing lately is a lack of intensity and emotion. That is very unusual for a Kelvin Sampson-coached team. But OU had it pumped back up for the Pokes and they were able to sustain it for most of the contest.
*Negative — Critical moment letdown. Trailing 60-56 with seven minutes left, the Sooners had a chance to get the ball back and cut into the OSU lead even more. But with four seconds on the shot clock, the Cowboys' John Lucas caught an inbounds pass and fired up a long 3-pointer that was on the mark. The trey pushed the lead to seven and ignited an 11-4 run that basically ended OU's upset hopes.
*Positive — The Sooners outrebounded the Pokes and created critical second-chance opportunities with 10 offensive boards. Reserve Johnnie Gilbert, who played a key role off the bench, collected three of his four rebounds on the offensive end.
*Positive — Lawrence McKenzie provided some key offensive juice off the bench, especially in the opening half when he led the Sooners with 10 points. He finished with 13 points that included a 3 of 8 effort from beyond the arc.
*Negative — They lost JamesOn Curry in the shuffle and it proved disastrous, as the freshman tied his career high with 22 points. The Sooners could have lived with Joey Graham's 22 points, but Curry's offensive effort was the difference in the game.
*Positive — OU proved it can face a hostile crowd and maintain its composure relatively well. Next to Allen Fieldhouse, GIA is the toughest place to play in the Big 12.
*Positive — Despite playing two of its next three games on the road, the schedule looks favorable for the Sooners as they head into the heart of February. OU should find a way to get out of Columbia with a win over Mizzou this weekend, and after welcoming Nebraska to town on Feb. 16, Sampson's crew will be tested in Manhattan, another very winable game.
*Positive — Compared to last year at this time, the Sooners are relatively injury free, which is great news for Sampson and his staff. If the Sooners can keep everyone on the court and focused on the task at hand, they have a chance to make some serious noise the rest of the way.
*Positive — The Sooners still lead the all-time series with OSU by a whopping 119-87.
Final Thoughts on Bedlam: The Rematch
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