“It was the one occasion on the year where we didn’t bounce back and play with the energy and enthusiasm we have, typically,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Iowa State took advantage of that.”
OU was in a similar emotional state when the first meeting occurred. It had just lost a heartbreaker to Kansas State two days earlier.
OU broke out of the slump after it left Ames, beating Kansas at home five days later. It was the first of four wins in the last six games.
“The last time we played them it wasn’t really much of a game,” OU forward Amath M’Baye said. “We have something to prove because of the way we played at their place and the way we played (Wednesday) night.”
Some of that will go away with a winning performance today. The Sooners have all the motivation they could need. Their spot in the NCAA Tournament and slot in the Big 12 Conference standings can both be elevated with a victory. Add in that seniors Casey Aren’t, Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms, Steven Pledger and Osby will be honored in a pregame ceremony as part of senior day festivities, and it’s easy to call today’s game OU’s biggest of the season.
But it’s also March, and just flipping the calendar to this month means every game is elevated.
“It’s the nature of the last couple weeks of conference play,” Kruger said.
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