NORMAN — The ice bags were strapped on quickly after Oklahoma’s 77-74 victory over Oklahoma State Saturday. The Sooners were a tired team that had just fought their way to a tough victory. No one needed to tell them they get a six-day break before Kansas State comes to Lloyd Noble Center this Saturday.
The rest is needed, but they also knew it was going to feel even better following a win that secured a sweep over the Cowboys and put the Sooners (19-7, 8-5 Big 12) alone in third place in the Big 12 Conference standings.
“The players are fresher coming off of a win of course,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Every team like to come into their bye week off of a win. So, it’s big in a lot of different ways.”
The biggest is the momentum the Sooners can take into it. Winning two of the last three just looks ,sounds and feels so much better than losing four of the last five. Remove the rivalry from the Bedlam game, and that was what was at stake Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena for the Sooners.
They looked like a tired team in last Wednesday’s upset loss to Texas Tech. The grind of a long conference season where just about every game has been decided in the final minute exacts a physical toll.
The Sooners did not look particularly fresh Saturday. The Cowboys, who were playing without All-American guard Marcus Smart, were better on the glass and led the majority of the game.
What separated the teams was OU’s season-long ability to be at its best at crunch time. It erased a five-point deficit with a little over three minutes remaining and ended the game with a 15-7 run and only gave up one field goal during that span.