Sooners, Cowboys look to rebound from terrible losses

Tuesday, January 13th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Kelvin Sampson didn't want to play this game right now. It's obvious why after watching Oklahoma's humiliating loss at top-ranked Connecticut.

The 11th-ranked Sooners _ Sampson's youngest team in a decade _ will continue with one of their most grueling four-game stretches in school history Wednesday night with a game against archrival Oklahoma State.

The Sooners (10-1) next play host to Missouri on Saturday and travel to No. 22 Texas Tech on Monday, giving them four games in eight days against a group of teams with a combined record of 42-11 _ six of those losses belonging to Missouri.

``We didn't make the schedule,'' Sampson said. ``We'll just have to go out there and play it.''

Sampson didn't make the schedule, but he did try to change it.

Last year, Oklahoma requested to have the date of the Oklahoma State game _ now the Sooners' Big 12 league opener _ moved to ease up on the rough road ahead for his team. The Big 12, of course, denied Sampson's appeal.

So, after getting thumped from the ranks of the nation's unbeaten teams by Connecticut, the Sooners must attempt to do something even Sampson's best teams have struggled to do recently _ win at Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys have won nine of the past 11 meetings in Stillwater between the two teams.

``Fortunately, when you're playing at home, having the crowd is kind of a comforting asset to you,'' Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said. ``There will be a high level of intensity between both ballclubs.''

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State is looking to atone for an embarrassing loss of its own.

The Cowboys (10-2, 0-1 Big 12) are coming off of an 83-62 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday, a defeat that ranked as one of Sutton's six worst in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State committed a season-high 21 turnovers, shot just 35 percent from the floor and sent the Red Raiders to the free-throw line 29 times.

Such a loss makes it imperative that the Cowboys hold off the Sooners on Wednesday night to avoid getting off to an 0-2 start in conference play.

``We have to forget about this one,'' Oklahoma State guard Daniel Bobik said. ``We can't really dwell on it and let it affect our next game.''

That holds true for Oklahoma, too.

The Sooners' first loss of the season was a painful one _ Oklahoma's worst defeat since being beaten 72-44 at Oklahoma State in 2001 _ but could prove to be a valuable lesson for a young team that rolled to a 10-game win streak without many challenges.

``It's not getting any easier,'' forward Jason Detrick said. ``It has to start in practice, with ourselves. We know we have to get better.''