Norman, OK—After an embarrassing road loss to the Baylor Bears to start the conference schedule, it could have turned ugly, but the Sooners beat two teams with much better records in the next two games at home.
In Bedlam, they defeated an 11-2 Cowboy team and then beat Missouri, who had won 11 straight heading into the game to get their locker room back.
After the Gonzaga Game, Jeff Capel showed he knows OU history, as he pulled a Bud Wilkinson: He would not let his team use the locker room and practice in anything that said Sooners on it.
In the '50s, Wilkinson forced all the players to remove their jerseys during halftime of a Colorado football game, as they had not played well enough to deserve to wear them. Then he told them they would have to wear something else for the second half, and they went on to win.
OU had five non-conference losses, thus anything less than 8-8 in conference knocks them out of the NCAA tournament. With eight tough road games, they will either have to be perfect at home or pull out some great road wins to make it in.
Another 30-point road loss, especially to a non-top 25 caliber team, may end their hopes altogether.
OU has to play as hard on the road as it has at home. The type of heart they have shown in the past two game would serve them well on the road if they can replicate it.
Sooners fans somewhat surprisingly have supported their lackluster basketball team despite the slow start, which historically has not been the case.
Tuesday’s game at A&M is not necessarily a must win, but it is a must compete. Another bad loss for a team this young could be disaster for the Sooners.
The upperclassmen have stepped up big lately, giving the young guys time to learn the intensity needed to compete in a tough, physical conference, but the freshman need to start contributing routinely on both ends for the Sooners to win on the road in conference play.