Sooners withstand OSU run, earn victory

NORMAN, Okla. -- We’ve seen this before.

Oklahoma stumbled out of the locker room, having left its first-half intensity in the bowels of the Lloyd Noble Center as Oklahoma State charged back from a large halftime deficit.

Except this time the Sooners responded.

OU rebuffed an early second half run by OSU to secure a 77-64 win over the Cowboys on Wednesday night. The Sooners snapped their six-game losing streak with the win, their first since Jan. 28.

“It feels good to finally get a win,” forward Romero Osby said. “I don’t really sleep well after losses. It felt good to get a win, we really needed one.”

OSU went on a 24-11 run to start the second half after OU took a 30-12 advantage into the locker room, mirroring the second half struggles that have doomed the Sooners to several losses including recent defeats to Texas, Iowa State and Texas Tech.

“I am really proud of our guys (for) responding the way they did to the Cowboys’ run,” said OU head coach Lon Kruger.

After the Cowboys cut OU’s lead to 42-39 with 13:05 left in the game, Osby turned up his intensity. The junior scored two baskets and grabbed two rebounds in a four-minute stretch which saw the Sooners go on a 9-0 run to take a 51-39 lead.

OSU never came within nine points for the remainder of the contest.

“We did a good job of getting right back in the ball game,” Kruger said. “With our run it popped (the lead) back out to nine or 12 there and we played to that margin the rest of the way.”

The Sooners smothering defense was the story of the first half.

“We had defensive intensity every possession,” forward C.J. Washington said. “We kept them out of transition in the first half. (We) came down, guarded them, were ready for everything.”

OSU shot 16.7 percent (4 of 24) in the first half as the Cowboys scored 12 points, a school-record low for a half in Big 12 play.

“They were playing really good defense and took us out of our quick-hitters, sets,” OSU guard Keiton Page said. “They were denying entry passes and shots just weren’t falling for us.”

OSU quickly erased their 18-point halftime deficit but the Sooners finally responded to an opponent’s second-half run, then cruised to the double-digit win.

“We’re definitely learning,” OU guard Steven Pledger said. “It’s definitely a boost to our confidence. They made a run, we (withstood) the run and made our own run and kept it going for the rest of the game.”

Said Osby: “We weren’t really showing that we’ve learned from these situations. So it felt good to get a second half run and counter the other team’s run.”

Pledger and Osby were two main keys to the win. Osby finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Pledger finished with a team-high 17 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

With the strain of a six-game losing streak finally off their shoulders, OU travels to Baylor with hopes of upsetting the Bears on Saturday.

“It’s a relief,” Pledger said. “We know we can play and we’ve been working hard so it’s good to get a win.”