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Sooners Ready For Huge Bedlam Matchup

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Monday night's Bedlam matchup in Norman will be the biggest one in the rivalry in quite some time.

The numbers tell the tale. This will be the first matchup of ranked teams in the rivalry since 2005—assuming both teams remain in the top-25 when the polls are announced on Monday—when the Sooners and Cowboys were ranked for both of their meetings during the regular season.

The bigger number is nine. That's the number of consecutive games the Sooners have won against the Cowboys in Norman, a fairly remarkable string considering the quality (or lack thereof) of teams OU has put on the court. The Cowboys last won in Norman in 2004.

A nine-game winning streak means the two seniors for OU, Tyler Neal and Cameron Clark, will be trying to go for a perfect 4-0 record against the Pokes in Norman.

"I thought of that earlier today," Neal said. "It's a new team. We've had different teams the past three or four years and we're just looking at it as another rivalry game and one we've got to come out of with a win."

Both teams played on Saturday, so it will be a quick turnaround for an important game. Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said it would be tough to bounce back that quickly, but it's not as big a deal since both teams have to do it.

"You have to get your body rebuilt, get in the ice bath and do what you have to do," Spangler said. "On top of that, you have to watch film. You don't have as long to run through their plays and get to know them so you have to work hard and in 48 hours you have to know what they're going to do."

Spangler was born and raised in Oklahoma so he knows how much Bedlam means to both teams and their fans. Spangler said having to sit out both games last year after transferring from Gonzaga was extremely difficult.

"When you're from Oklahoma, you always want to play different schools from Oklahoma and show them how you do," Spangler said. "We got the win last year at home and lost one away, so it was hard."

The Sooners have planned a white-out for the game and it's already a sellout. With the game televised nationally on ESPN as part of Big Monday, it should be one of the best crowds in recent memory.

"It'll be a fantastic crowd," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "Anytime you have a Big 12 game against a rival, it's a big game; the emotions will be high. The guys on both teams will play really hard and I'll be surprised if both teams don't play pretty well."

The Bedlam rivalry is not one unbeknownst to the rest of the nation, but it's the first time in a while the eyes of the country and the college basketball world will be trained on Norman.

"I think players go to school to play in games like this," Kruger said. "Every game is important and every game is significant, but when you get to a little more hype and a state rival, conference standings and all those things impacted by this, it's good. Enthusiasm and fan interest makes it exciting."

RELATED: Keys For The Cowboys In Bedlam

As for the Sooners' nine-game winning streak in Norman, the team is hopeful they can continue the run of success, but know the streak doesn't give them a decided advantage for Monday night.

"I think part of the confidence is how more fans come out; we're getting into the meat of the schedule, starting to gel as a team really well," Neal said. "I think that's where a lot of our confidence comes from."

This rivalry is one of the great ones in college basketball, and all the ingredients are there for Monday night to be exactly what the rivalry was meant to be: Bedlam.

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