OU men's basketball: Sooners drop Bedlam road loss in back-and-forth clash

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Joe Buettner, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·3 min read
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Mar. 2—NORMAN — Oklahoma found itself in another tight battle with Oklahoma State on Monday, which resulted in the Sooners falling once again to the Pokes.

The Cowboys prevailed 79-75 at Gallagher-Iba Arena to sweep the regular-season Bedlam series.

Oklahoma State was led by Kalib Boone, who scored 17 points. OU forward Brady Manek had 20 points, while guard Austin Reaves had 19.

Here are three thoughts from the loss:

1. Manek Monday: Despite the Sooners' defeat, Manek was a bright spot for the squad.

Manek's senior season seemed to be derailed by a positive COVID-19 test midway through OU's Big 12 schedule, but he looked much more like his former self against the Cowboys on Monday.

"He was ready to do that," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "Great to see him have a game like that. He fought his tail off on the boards as well, made some shots. Really good to see that."

Manek was the catalyst for OU's offense early in the contest, scoring 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the first half. Manek made his first 3-point attempt less than a minute and a half into the game and never seemed to lose the quick jolt of confidence. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

Manek had a shot to tie the game with 24 second remaining but couldn't get the open look to fall.

2. Keeping Cade in check: While the Sooners only led by one at halftime, they kept Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham from exploding in the first half.

The Sooners held Cunningham without a field goal through the first 20 minutes. He was able to get two points from the foul line, but frequent double teams kept the freshman, who scored 40 points in a win over OU on Saturday, from heating up.

"Our guys did a great job," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "It starts with [Elijah Harkless] and Jalen [Hill] on the ball. They did a fantastic job and thought Brady and Kur [Kuath] did a great job attacking ball screens and battling. Again, he's a good player. In the end, he stepped up and he made plays that you expect good players to make."

Cunningham scored 13 points on 3 of 6 shooting in the second half and made the game-icing free throws in the final seconds.

3. Texas becomes a must win: The Sooners have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season and are in desperate need of a win in their final game of the regular season.

OU hosts Texas at Lloyd Noble Center at 8 p.m. Thursday. A victory is crucial to keep OU from falling to far down the NCAA tournament seeding list, as well as to avoid a play-in game in the Big 12 tournament next week.

"It's what we play this sport for," said Reaves when asked how the team has to respond after two physically-draining rivalry games. "If you can't really bounce back from physical games or anything like that, you really shouldn't be playing. So honestly, just getting back to work and really just figuring out ways we can be better."

Joe Buettner

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jbuettner@normantranscript.com