Oklahoma makes it a sweep over OSU (without Smart)

February 20, 2014

Oklahoma State, a team picked by some in the preseason to make the Final Four, got swept Saturday by an Oklahoma team that is probably a lock for the NCAA Tournament.

With All American Marcus Smart sitting out the second game of a three-game suspension, OSU fell to No. 25 OU 77-74 in a Bedlam game Stillwater. OU has won both matchups this season.

“I thought Oklahoma State really controlled the second half of the game,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “We weren’t playing with the rhythm I would have liked us to, but I’m really proud of our guys for staying in there until the end. They hit some big threes at the end and also made their free throws. Bedlam is always a big win for us. I couldn’t be any more proud of our guys.”

“I thought our guys played hard and came out with a lot of spirit and a lot of energy,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “They made three threes down the stretch that were obviously big for them. If they miss any of those, it’s a different game, but that’s why you play the game. They made good shots.

“We couldn’t make our free throws. I think we missed six or seven 1-and-1s. That’s 14 points that we get no points out of. That hurts. We’ve got to make our free throws. We are normally pretty good at it. The guys played hard, but they just made shots down the stretch. Our defense just wasn’t good enough down the stretch as far as getting the stops we needed when we needed them.”

After going cold (1-13 from the field, 1-10 from three-point range) in a painful home loss against Texas Tech, OU’s Buddy Hield scored a team-high 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting (5-for-13 from behind the arc) against OSU.

Hield hit two 3-pointers in a 42-second span to put the Sooners up for good (from down 68-65 to up 71-68 with 1:06 remaining).

Hield has made at least three 3-pointers in 10 of 13 conference games and has scored in double figures in 24 of 26 games this year.

“Coach told us to keep playing together and make the extra passes,” said Hield. “We did that. Frank (Booker) started making shots and Je’lon (Hornbeak) came in and made a big bucket. Cameron (Clark) had a big three. Everybody played their role and we started playing together as a group. When we play together as a group, good things happen for us. We were able to do it in the last minute stretch.

“Coaches and my teammates keep telling me to shoot the ball, and I’ve been shooting the ball all my life so I’m not going to stop. I had some great looks in the (Texas) Tech game that just didn’t go down. The coaching staff and my family -  everybody is giving me the confidence to shoot the ball. I kept my confidence and I was able to knock down some shots late in the game for us.”

OU freshman Frank Booker came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points in 20 minutes. He hit a career-high four 3-pointers on six attempts while adding two rebounds and two steals without a turnover.

“They were big shots,” Kruger said. “Ryan (Spangler) did a good job of driving and setting a screen for us on the first one. Then his patience on the second one was the key because he could have rushed a guarded shot but he pumped faked and shot it with good rhythm. Frank (Booker) has also been making big shots for us all year. Ryan did a great job on the boards all day as well. Lot of different guys stepped up big for us today and we hit some key late shots.”

It was the first game in Stillwater for Booker and he was not nervous.

“It was not really a big deal,” Booker said. “I came in here ready to shoot and do my role. Other than that, I played defense and just knocked down shots.”

OU’s Tyler Neal finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Neal had 11 points at halftime.

Spangler got his Big 12-leading 10th double-double of the season with 12 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. He was 5-for-7 from the field and added three assists and a block in 29 minutes. Spangler averaged 6.3 rebounds the previous three games. In two Bedlam games this year, Spangler averaged 13.5 points and 15.0 rebounds.

“I try to do the little things for my team to win,” Spangler said. “The things I do kind of brings energy to the team. If I’m able to start a game with getting some offensive rebounds, some tough rebounds, and maybe getting some people open with screens, that’s just going to allow us to be a better team. I’m just going to keep working on coming out strong and letting my team get in a rhythm and just keep going.”

The absence of Smart didn’t cause Oklahoma to take the game less seriously.

“Well with him, I think he gets them going, but other guys stepped up,” Spangler said. “Everybody for them today was hitting shots. They were just as hard to guard. He’s a great player, but I think they were good today, too, but we were able to get the win.”

Oklahoma’s bench outscored OSU’s 34-1. The 34 bench points were OU’s second most of the season and most since its 36 in the second game of the year.

After starting the game 7-for-13 from the free throw line, Oklahoma made its final eight attempts over the game’s last 3:35 to finish 15-for-21 (.714).

OSU was 12-for-22 (.545) at the line.

“We usually make our free throws,” said OSU’s Phil Forte. “It’s something we usually take a lot of pride in. I think it help cost us the game. We just have to continue to work on them in practice.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, because nobody else will feel sorry for us. I want to do this for Marcus (Smart), Markel (Brown) and Le’Bryan (Nash). They came back for us. I want to finish this season right for them, and so does everyone else. All we have is each other right now. We have to stay close as a group.”

How will the Cowboys respond to this latest setback?

“We’ve got to dig in,” said Ford. “We’ve got to bounce back. They’re down. This is as down of a locker room that I’ve seen. We just need to keep our head up and understand that there is a lot of basketball left to be played.

“This effort was better, but we’ve got to finish the game out a little bit better. It doesn’t get any easier going out on the road. We’ve just got to keep our heads up, spirit up, and continue to motivate them and keep their heads up, as we’ve been doing.”

OSU has had three fewer front-line players than what they started the year with and that is causing some players to play heavy minutes.

“That’s the other thing,” Ford said. “We had some tired guys out there. That doesn’t help, but they’re giving it everything they’ve got so we’ve got to make sure that they definitely get their rest.”

Oklahoma hosts Kansas State at 3 p.m. Saturday.