Off to its best start in school history, Oklahoma has been able to finish off opponents even when it’s not playing its best. Colorado, meanwhile, is still looking for ways to win close games.
The second-ranked Sooners go for their 11th straight win on Saturday afternoon as they host a Colorado team that has dropped 22 consecutive games in Norman.
Oklahoma (22-1, 8-0 Big 12) finishes its two-game stretch at the Lloyd Noble Center following Wednesday’s 77-71 win over Texas A&M. Playing with their highest ranking since 1990, the Sooners led the Aggies by as many as 15 points in the first half, but trailed by nine with 6:25 left.
Junior forward Juan Pattillo responded with two of his four blocks as Oklahoma rolled off 18 of the game’s final 21 points.
“It was almost as if he wasn’t going to let us lose, and he did it with energy plays,” coach Jeff Capel said. “That’s what he does for us, and we need him that way all the time.”
Blake Griffin had 16 points and 14 rebounds for his nation-leading 19th double-double of the season, but wasn’t pleased with his 6-of-14 shooting effort. The sophomore forward, however, was proud of his team’s ability to rally in the final minutes.
“For us to play as poorly as we did and for us to come back, it says a lot about our team,” Griffin said. “But at the same time, there’s no reason why it should have been that close.”
Games over the last 28 years at home versus the Buffaloes (9-12, 1-6) have been anything but close. Since losing 60-59 on Feb. 9, 1980, the Sooners have won 22 straight in the series by an average of 22.0 points. The teams did not meet in Norman last season, but in their last game on March 13, Oklahoma won 54-49 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.
Colorado looks to snap a two-game skid after Wednesday’s 55-53 loss to visiting Nebraska. The Buffaloes have dropped nine of 11 since a four-game winning streak from Dec. 10-28, and their last three losses have come by a total of nine points.
Close, though, is not good enough for coach Jeff Bzdelik.
“Are we there? Yeah, but we’re not there. So, yeah, I’m upset, OK,” he said on Wednesday. “Because people around here pat everybody on the back: ‘Oh, nice effort.’ Baloney. Not nice effort. It’s about winning. I’m not into that.”
Despite their struggles in Norman, the Buffaloes aren’t overwhelmed facing the surging Sooners after defeating Oklahoma 72-58 last Feb. 9 in Boulder.
“We matched up well against them, and we just wanted to win, and we thought we could beat them in the tournament after we beat them (in Boulder),” junior guard Dwight Thorne II told the school’s official Web site. “We just have to come out hard and play together, and just do the things we can do. We should be alright.”
The Buffaloes won’t be, though, if their rebounding struggles continue. Colorado is last in the conference with 28.1 rebounds per game while Oklahoma is grabbing 39.4 a contest, with Griffin averaging a nation-best 14.1.
Griffin had one of his worst games of 2007-08 in the Sooners’ victory over Colorado last March, recording four points in 15 minutes.
Oklahoma is 45-12 all-time in Norman against Colorado.
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