Originally Published: Jan 12, 2010 8:18 PM CDT
I’m not sure how the rest of the Big 12 campaign will play out for either the Sooners or Cowboys, and the knee-jerk reaction from many after Monday’s Bedlam battle is that neither team will make the NCAA Tournament. That’s what missing a boatload of easy shots will make you think.
But there’s hope in the wake of an overtime slugfest that in some ways sent offensive basketball spiraling backward a few years. That hope lies in effort, and the growth potential of the freshmen point guards each team put on the floor.
Tommy Mason-Griffin’s outside shooting (2 early 3’s and one clutch 3 in overtime) and Ray Penn’s quickness gave OU and OSU a sign of things to come. The challenge now is for each player to continue to build off of each performance.
The Sooners’ defensive effort was better. Cade Davis was pretty solid having to check James Anderson, but there’s no getting around this fact: If OSU shoots 32 percent from the field instead of 28, it’s the Cowboys with a huge road win and the Sooners taking more heat for an awful start in league play. In other words, a C-minus effort offensively from OSU would have been enough. Sure, the Sooners deserve credit for making some of the Cowboys’ looks difficult ones, but there were plenty of good shots that just didn’t go down. OU MUST play with a sense of desperation on the defensive end instead of settling for the uncertain outcome of letting their offensive ability bail it out of tough situations. Oh, and Willie Warren has to snap out of whatever it is that is keeping him from playing at an all-america level.
The Cowboys are doing a good job of controlling the things they can control- defensive effort and intensity, taking care of the ball- and continuing that will give them a chance to win games. If the shots fall, they will win games in the conference. But OSU players had pretty much figured that out before Monday. OU got a glimpse of the same thing, and it remains to be seen if the Sooners’ retention factor allows them to enjoy prolonged success.