I talked with OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson and he was still upbeat following the Sooners 79-72 OT loss to OSU and why shouldn't he be? Even with the loss his Sooners were 19-4 on the year and still in second place in the Big 12 Conference at 8-3.
Coach Sampson was already focused on Saturday's game with Kansas State, but he had these thoughts about the game and the ramifications about the loss.
"There is really isn't that much difference in a number one seed or a number two. So, if we fall to a number two we will would still go to Dallas and still have a favorable draw in the NCAA tournament."
Coach Sampson's decision to not play starter Jabahri Brown more than 11 minutes was not totally because Brown didn't play well early. There is no question that Coach Sampson didn't like Brown's intensity and didn't feel like he was playing hard, but equally important to Brown riding the pine was the fact that Jozsef Szendrei played so well. Szendrei's 11 rebounds and tough attitude helped the Sooners compete in the second half.
"Szendrei was tough and because of the way some of our other players were playing, that was exactly what we needed. "Yo" played tough for the entire 18 minutes he was in the game and he and Aaron's (McGhee) efforts on the boards allowed us to win the rebounding battle. Yo played like we expect players to play at OU and that is what I am looking for. I need tough players and if Yo is the one that will be tough then he will play."
Hollis Price didn't play a good game and in fact, the game is only one of three games during his entire career at OU where Sampson would say that Price didn't have a winning performance.
"Victor Williams out-competed and out-performed Hollis last night, yet Hollis did enough things that we still almost won the game. I wouldn't trade Hollis for any guard in the country and every great player will have a bad game at some point and Hollis had his last night. However, I don't worry about Hollis. He is one of the best guards that has ever played at OU and he will bounce back."
As we saw for ourselves OU didn't execute the last second possession in regulation very well.
"We tried to run the same thing that we ran at Missouri so well and Hollis didn't make a very good decision. We really wanted him to penetrate and then either go to the basket or dish to the open player. However, he wasn't aggressive and ran the clock down too far. Then he panicked a little bit and wound up throwing the ball to Quannas for a poor shot. We have executed that play great a number of times, but this time we didn't get it done."
OU is not getting much out of Ebi Ere right now and that is obvious. One of the goals of the OU coaching staff is to get him going again.
"I don't know what it is, but he Ebi has lost his confidence," said Sampson. "He just isn't aggressive right now and he doesn't even look like himself."
Yes, Coach Sampson is considering some changes in the starting lineup.
"I am certainly considering starting Jozsef and without question "Yo" will play some against Kansas State," said Sampson. "If he continues to get rebounds like that he will get into the rotation."
"Jason (Detrick) is also playing very well and with Ebi slumping a little bit, we may have to get Jason in the lineup more. Jason is one of our best players right now and like we thought, he has become one of the best guards in the conference."
Finally, the loss to OSU is not the end of the world for Sampson and the Sooners.
"I try to tell people all the time that when two good teams get together the home team should win. It's when you go on the road and win against a quality team that you can call it an upset. OSU beating us in Stillwater is not an upset. More often than not they are going to beat us in Stillwater, because they are a good team and have a good program."
"On the other hand, we are going to beat them in the Lloyd Noble Center more often than not," Sampson continued. "That's doesn't mean we don't go and compete and try to win. In fact, we felt we should have won last night and if we had played like Oklahoma usually does we would have won. However, give OSU credit. They played like OSU more than we played like OU."
Sampson upbeat after Bedlam setback
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