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SPORTS: University of Oklahoma

Sooners' Game Against Texas Basically A Must-Win

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

50 and a half hours after the Oklahoma Sooners suffered their first Big 12 defeat against Kansas State, the Sooners will take the Lloyd Noble Center court against archrival Texas in front of an ESPN Big Monday national audience.

It's a quick turnaround after a disappointing performance against the Wildcats Saturday, a performance that saw OU turn the ball over 16 times and allow Kansas State to hit 10 three-pointers for the game.

"I really think our guys will learn from yesterday," OU head coach Lon Kruger said Sunday. "Kansas State played better than we did; a little better sustaining what they wanted to do both offensively and defensively."

The Sooners will have to wait to linger on the lessons to be learned from their first big road game of the season. Monday night's game against Texas is about as close to a must-win game as you can find this early in conference play.

"Every game is a must win in the Big 12, but especially going against a rival," OU senior Romero Osby said. "We hate them, they hate us. Historically we've always had a battle. For us to get a chance to go against our rival, especially after a tough loss and it's only a day later, that's always great."

Oklahoma missed out on a huge opportunity for a NCAA tournament resume-building win against Kansas State, and with Texas 0-4 in Big 12 play—reeling from blowing a potentially huge win against Kansas—the time is ripe for the Sooners to cash in and steady the ship.

"Every game is a must win game for us," junior Amath M'Baye said. "Just the fact that it's Texas—we hate Texas—we got to get them. It's like Oklahoma State. It's these kind of games that really matter to us, really matter to the fans and that's something we want to bring home."

With a brutal upcoming schedule facing the Sooners after Monday night—at Kansas, at Baylor, home against Kansas State, at Iowa State, home against Kansas in succession—it's even more important for OU to move on from Saturday's disappointing performance and not allow one loss become two, three, or even four.

"That was the main thing (Kruger) expressed in film today," freshman Je'lon Hornbeak said. "Before we watched anything, we said don't let one thing lead to another. Don't let this trend set in. We don't want to get accustomed to losing."

Basketball is a learning process. You learn from your wins and you learn from your losses. Osby said that was the message Kruger gave to his team at Sunday's practice.

"It's very important to bounce back," Osby said. "When you lose a game, you just want to try to bounce back and have a better game and learn from the last game and try to build on some of the things you did wrong. That's what we're going to try to do."

There aren't many cases where you'll find a must-win college basketball game before February. For Oklahoma—a rebuilding program teetering on the edge of returning to past success—Monday is a huge game. Yes, even a must-win.

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