The Norman Transcript

Sports

February 8, 2014

After rough trip, Sooners eager for friendly confines of Lloyd Noble Center

NORMAN — No one kissed the pavement when Oklahoma finally returned home Thursday evening from West Virginia. Some weren’t even sure whether or not they could finally believe it was true.

Sooner guard Je’lon Hornbeak admitted he wasn’t sure he recognized Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City when the team’s chartered plane stopped.

“Are we really home?” he wondered.

After a travel odyssey in which everything leading up to, before and after Wednesday night’s overtime loss at West Virginia was mind-numbingly delayed, Friday’s practice was a return to normalcy.

“I think when practice first started we were all a little bit tired, but we picked it up as it went along,” OU forward Ryan Spangler said. “I think we’re back to where we need to be.”

Of course, what would’ve given the 21st-ranked Sooners (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) more pep would’ve been a win against the Mountaineers.

The Sooners were in position to get one despite trailing by 14 points early in the second half. In spite of spending the previous 24 hours waiting on delayed flights in Oklahoma City, Newark, N.J., and again in West Virginia, the Sooners nearly pulled it out.

“We battled and put ourselves in position to win that ballgame, which is not always easy to do,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “We didn’t finish it, but we handled the distractions really well.”

But you have to wonder whether the trip to West Virginia was the ultimate team bonding experience or one from which the Sooners are going to need longer than a day to recover.

The answer should come at 6 p.m. today when they face Baylor (14-8, 2-7) at Lloyd Noble Center. Film preparation certainly isn’t an issue. OU watched plenty on Baylor Thursday while waiting for their flight home.

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