Men's basketball: Sooners' losses have silver linings
When the Sooners took the floor at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to play the No. 3 Jayhawks, it had been 20 years since OU last beat Kansas in Lawrence.
After a 67-54 loss — a game in which OU remained within striking distance throughout — the Sooners guaranteed the winless streak would last at least one more year.
But there’s another drought plaguing the Sooners (one more pressing and one OU might actually end): three straight seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance.
Despite the sting of defeat, the Sooners remained positive and gained confidence from standing toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best.
“We were just able to go in there and hang in there and play pretty good basketball,” junior forward Amath M’Baye said. “It just gave us a little bit of confidence of about what to expect, and especially about them coming back to our house in a couple of weeks.”
M’Baye, along with senior forward Romero Osby, led the Sooners in scoring the past two weekends with 12 points each. But OU still lost both games.
The Sooners’ losses the last two weekends — the Kansas loss and last Saturday’s 69-60 defeat at the hands of then-No. 16 Kansas State — were competitive contests for all 40 minutes. Win or lose, they were integral in giving the team experience against tournament-tier teams in hostile environments.
“We got to learn from them a little bit — kind of learn from Kansas State, learn from Kansas,” Osby said. “They’re real physical, and you know, when you’re a top team like that you got to be physical, and I think that’s something we can take away from it.”
OU has yet to beat a ranked team this season, but other than a 25-point loss to No. 7 Gonzaga in November, the Sooners average margin of defeat is 6.5 points.
If fate would’ve been in OU’s favor and a few shots would’ve rattled in instead of out, the Sooners could very well be a one- or two-loss team.
“I don’t think we know how good we can be yet,” M’Baye said. “It’s just the little things we have to execute better, and like little details that we take care of to be able to reach our full potential. I think just the team being able to grow from these games, the freshmen being able to adapt and the old dudes being able to lead. It’s just the little things that are going to help us toward the future.”
And the future just might hold an elusive bid to the big dance.
Dillon Phillips is a journalism junior and sports editor at The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @DillonPhillips_