In retrospect — well, retrospect long enough to look at a box score — the amazing thing is not that Oklahoma lost Thursday night’s NCAA tourney opener to North Dakota State in Spokane, Wash. No, the amazing thing is A) that the Sooners never should have won and B) how they lost.
There OU was, up four points with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, long before it would eventually lose 80-75 in overtime.
And, up four with 32 seconds remaining, you’re supposed to win. The Sooners were supposed to win.
Amazing because how are you supposed to win when the guy who’s supplied your toughness all season long, Ryan Spangler, goes for three points and seven rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting?
Amazing because how are you supposed to win when your best player, Buddy Hield — 4 of 14 from the field, 1 of 9 from 3-point land, four rebounds and one assist — hardly shows up?
Amazing because how are you supposed to win any game in which you eventually shoot 34.7 percent and the other team eventually shoots 52.9 percent?
Yet OU was supposed to win. It was the darndest thing.
How OU really lost, because it wasn’t for all the reasons already mentioned it should have lost.
Recall the Sooners had already been judged to be the best-coached team in the Big 12.
Recall that OU has spent the Big 12 season taking games away from opponents rather than giving them away to opponents.
Yet, it began to come crashing down when Isaiah Cousins fouled Taylor Braun a long way from the basket with 32 seconds remaining and the Sooners up 65-61. It meant two points for the Bison without the clock moving.
Then Cousins missed the first of two free throws, and that meant the Sooners leading by three instead of four.
Then Lawrence Alexander rattled home a 3-pointer and the game was tied.