In Porter Moser’s third season as Oklahoma’s head coach, the Sooners have already topped their win total from last season and are just two away from matching their total from Moser’s first season.
Oklahoma spent 10 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25 poll after not breaking into the rankings at any point over the previous two seasons, and it appears headed toward its first NCAA Tournament appearance under Moser.
But if the Sooners are to make the tournament, they’ll likely need to reverse their recent struggles against their two biggest rivals — Oklahoma State and Texas.
Oklahoma (17-6, 5-5 Big 12) faces Oklahoma State (10-13, 2-8) on Saturday in Norman, Okla., in the first of two Bedlam matchups of the season.
Under Moser, the Sooners are 1-9 against the two programs, including a 75-60 home loss to Texas last month. Oklahoma has dropped three consecutive games and seven of eight to the Cowboys.
But with the Sooners fighting for position in a crowded conference race, Moser downplayed the importance of Bedlam beyond the game itself.
“This win is about the Big 12 Conference race, and that’s being honest,” Moser said. “We know it’s a lot of stakes for us, that’s where we want to be. We’re in a position where every game has a lot of meaning for us. We want to stack wins.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton hasn’t shied away from emphasizing the rivalry.
“It’ll be new for a lot of guys, but the emphasis will still be great for us,” Boynton said. “No matter what kind of year we’re having — and obviously we’re not having the type of year we wanted to — it’s a big deal, and it will be made that way to our team. …
“They’ll understand the gravity of it to our fans and former players and people who love Oklahoma State around here that we need to make sure we’re fighting for this school on Saturday.”
The Cowboys aren’t in the hunt for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament but are searching for a signature win.
Freshman Brandon Garrison has come on strong of late for Oklahoma State, averaging 12.5 points over the past four games after averaging 6.1 points in his first 19.
Oklahoma is coming off an 82-66 home win over BYU on Saturday. Leading scorer Javian McCollum (14.5 points per game) scored 20 for the Sooners.
–Field Level Media
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