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OU men’s basketball: Austin Reaves leads supporting cast in Bedlam win, Sooners hopeful to start win streak

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Austin Reaves

Redshirt junior guard Austin Reaves during the game against Oklahoma State on Feb. 1.

Ten minutes and 57 seconds remained in the first half of Oklahoma’s eventual 82-69 Bedlam victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, and the Sooners were starting to put it together.

After a made 3-point attempt from junior forward Brady Manek, who was in the midst of yet another career day, junior guard Alondes Williams brought the crowd at the Lloyd Noble Center to its feet with a signature tomahawk dunk.

Mere seconds later, redshirt guard Austin Reaves took advantage of an Oklahoma State turnover and answered with slam of his own — making the now-standing fan base reach deafening heights.

“I definitely knew he could (dunk like that), he just doesn’t do it very much,” Manek said with a laugh. “I think he needs to bring that energy more. I think plays like that, (from) him and Alondes, they’re a momentum-changer for everybody. I think it gets the team hyped, gets us ready to play some defense.”

But the fireworks weren’t over yet. The off-court energy electrified the red-hot Sooners, who then forced an Oklahoma State missed layup and responded with another rim-shaking dunk from Williams off an assist from Reaves — forcing the Cowboys to call their second timeout of the game.

“Really happy for our guys,” head coach Lon Kruger said. “Seeing some shots go in certainly makes it an easier game for everyone. That set the tone for the entire night. I thought both teams played extremely hard. We had good movement and made some shots, which is great.

"And now we just have to work and keep getting better."

This sequence of events was one of many that led to Oklahoma’s double-digit win over its in-state rival — but was it one that showed a glimpse of things to come for the Sooners?

Inconsistencies have plagued Oklahoma’s season so far — poor shooting nights mixed with a lack of control down low have put the Sooners in a position where many would question their future. But then there are games like Saturday’s — games where they just can’t miss, games where every board is just going their way, games where they appear like a team with postseason potential.

Wins and performances like these are a direct result from the supporting cast on the Sooners’ roster — basically, any players not named Brady Manek. Reaves finished the night with the second-most points on the team, scoring 22 points while shooting 50 percent from the field.

“I just wanted to bring energy,” Reaves said. “I mean, do whatever it took to help us win. If I was diving on the floor, make an extra pass — whatever it takes. I mean, just keeping the guys up and moving forward.”

Kruger was also high on the effect Williams had on the game.

“(Williams) has really put together four (breakout games) in a row now,” Kruger said. “So, really happy for Alondes — he gives us an extra punch, for sure. He's making shots. Like Austin said, you can put the ball on the floor and make plays for others, and he's really done a nice job defensively. It's kind of like a new person in the rotation when you have Alondes playing like that.”

Oklahoma likely will hope this win sparks a much-needed win streak heading into the latter parts of the season. Yet conference play doesn’t lighten up here for Oklahoma, as the Sooners now turn their attention to last season's national runner-up in Texas Tech.

“We watched them play. They played extremely hard,” Reaves said. “Coach (Chris) Beard’s got them doing a really good job on defense and offense. So I mean, we just need to take this energy from this game — because this is a big win. We need to keep building and go down there and try to take another one.”

Tipoff for Oklahoma’s game against Texas Tech is set for 8 p.m. Feb. 4 in Lubbock, Texas.

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