The covered wagons are treading a bumpy road. After starting the season blistering hot and cruising through nonconference play with one blemish on their record to the now No. 3 team in the country, No. 23 Oklahoma has lost four of its last six games.
The new AP Poll dropped on Monday, and the Sooners are in a bit of a free fall. They had the most significant drop of any team in the top 25, dropping 12 spots. Saturday, they lost at home to the 15th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. The game before that, they lost another home game to their Red River rivals, the Texas Longhorns. In both games, the Sooners were winning at halftime.
And yet, somehow, the Sooners came away with nothing to show for it in either game.
Troubling times are upon Porter Moser’s basketball team. Oklahoma’s losses this season have all been to teams near locks to make the NCAA Tournament. Or, at least, they are a few more wins away from solidifying themselves as one of those teams.
There’s no shame in losing to good basketball teams, but Oklahoma had two monster opportunities at home to firmly cement themselves as an NCAA team and came up empty-handed. And now, with his squad marred in a slump and on the precipice of falling out of the top 25, the Sooners are staring down two massive road games against teams capable of beating them. Jerome Tang and Kansas State ended last year in the Elite Eight. They lost some significant contributors from that team but went into the transfer portal to get some excellent replacements.
Kansas State will be ready to play tonight in Manhattan, Kansas. If the Sooners are to come out on top with a win, Oklahoma needs to play a complete 40 minutes. Faster starts from their trio of starting guards, Javian McCollum, Otega Oweh, and Milos Uzan, would be a welcome sight.
After tonight’s affair in the Little Apple, Oklahoma will rest before traveling to Orlando, Florida, where the UCF Knights will be waiting for them. UCF has proven to be a pesky addition to the nation’s best basketball conference, with two of their three conference wins coming at home against two teams Oklahoma hasn’t beaten themselves. One of which was Kansas.
In short, UCF is not to be handled lightly, especially when they are playing on the home court.
Both of Oklahoma’s opponents this week are fringe NCAA tournament teams with opportunities to use Oklahoma as an opportunity to help improve their resumes. Conversely, for Oklahoma, two losses could make things a little sweaty regarding the Sooners’ tournament chances.
This week is about toughness, execution, and playing complete games. Something that has plagued Oklahoma in the back-to-back losses they’ve suffered.
For Porter Moser, this week feels like the tipping point in a season that started with immense promise. You either steady the ride or watch this covered wagon spin out of control. The choice is in Oklahoma’s hands.