Men's basketball: Upperclassmen, crowd fuel Sooners in Bedlam victory
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
Much of the hype surrounding the OU men’s basketball team is wrapped up in its three talented freshman guards: Isaiah Cousins, Je’lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield.
However, it was a trio of upperclassmen who led the Sooners to a 77-68 victory against OSU on Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
Senior forward Romero Osby paced the Sooners with 17 points and three rebounds, while fellow upperclassmen, senior guard Steven Pledger and junior forward Amath M’Baye, also had big games.
M’Baye, in particular, chipped in with a run of seven straight points after OSU cut the OU's lead to 63-57. He finished with 15 points, five rebounds and two steals.
“I’m pretty sure that every single basket was assisted,” M’Baye said about his scoring run. “The 7-0 stretch is not mine, it’s the team’s.”
That run, coupled with timely baskets by Pledger, Osby and Hield, helped keep the Sooners in front of the Cowboys, who trailed all game.
One such moment in the game was when Pledger was fouled taking a three-pointer and made all three foul shots, pushing the lead to 58-52.
Pledger shot the ball poorly but found other ways to contribute - finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Despite never coming closer than two points, the Cowboys looked as if they would possibly take a lead, or at least make the game close, at several points during the game. But OU always answered with a run to keep the game out of reach.
“We withstood a run by Oklahoma State in the second half and regained our composure pretty well at that point,” coach Lon Kruger said. “We made good plays for each other down the stretch."
An experienced OU bench laden with senior leadership helped the Sooners fend off every OSU run.
“We have five seniors, so we know how it is to be in close Big 12 games and not make enough plays to win the game,” Osby said. “It’s been good for us that coach scheduled a lot of road games early in the season to force us to play with our backs against the wall.”
Much of the Sooners’ ability to stay ahead could be attributed to the crowd at the game. It was one of the loudest, most electric games of the season so far, and it provided an atmosphere Kruger hopes to see more frequently as the season continues.
“It was a great crowd,” Kruger said. “When a crowd like that comes and sees good results and good effort, hopefully, it will encourage them to come back.”