The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 9, 2014

Loss actually a step forward for Sooners

NORMAN — Everything but a win. That’s what Oklahoma got Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

Consider …

On the night Kansas, that underachieving Big 12 program that had lost to San Diego State inside Allen Fieldhouse — San Diego State inside Allen Fieldhouse! — got well, the Sooners were as close as four points when Buddy Hield missed a great look from 3-point land with 1:19 remaining.

They were within four points despite having little clue how to slow down the Jayhawks, little size to slow them down even if they’d had a clue and, one would have thought, little chance to knock off the Jayhawks on the night Bill Self’s team played its best game in many moons and hit 54.7 percent of its shots.

“We’ve been playing handcuffed and haven’t been able to let it go,” Self said. “But we let it go tonight.”

And not only were the Sooners down four points with a great look from 3-point land with 1:19 remaining on a night the Jayhawks let it go, they were kind of disgusted by it all, which counts as another good sign.

Coach Lon Kruger said there were times he didn’t quite get the effort he was looking for from everybody. Cam Clark said the OU’s been a team of spurts rather than consistency.

The Sooners eventually fell 90-83 and while it’s tempting to believe it a bold step backward — OU beat Kansas 72-66 a year ago in Norman — it’s the wrong take. That Kansas team came into Lloyd Noble Center struggling and continued to struggle. This one played like Self and Jayhawk Nation has been waiting for it to play all season … and still OU trailed by just four points with a great look from 3-point land with 1:19 remaining.

To be sure, it’s not like Kruger’s doing a reprise of Billy Tubbs’ greatest hits  a quarter century later. After all, OU’s been making a habit of threatening 100 points quite a bit, but not 150.

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