It took over half the season, but Oklahoma finally got itself a close win.
The Sooners still nearly gave it away, but managed to hold on against Oklahoma State to grab an important 64-56 win in Stillwater on Saturday.
The Sooners have now won two straight in conference play after dropping four of their last five. Saturday's win leaves the Sooners in a tie for fourth in the conference at 5-4. Oklahoma seems to have righted the ship, but Tuesday night will really tell the tale, as the Sooners face West Virginia in Norman, a team that thumped Oklahoma in Morgantown earlier in January.
More on Saturday. The Sooners won a close game by relying on their stars. Even though Isaiah Cousins was nonexistent—actually, nonexistent might have been a better help for the Sooners—the other four starters for OU played well, scoring in double figures and taking turns coming up with big plays.
The first half was about Jordan Woodard and Ryan Spangler, who kept the Sooners afloat in the midst of an early onslaught of urgent energy from the Cowboys and shooting struggles for OU. The second half belonged to Buddy Hield and TaShawn Thomas, with more from Woodard.
It was a balanced performance in a critical game with plenty of critical moments, something Oklahoma has lacked this season, particularly in the five single-digit losses the Sooners have endured.
Not only that, but it was just the third road game the Sooners have won this year. Before Saturday, OU had lost three straight Big 12 road games. In fact, the Sooners' last road win came at the beginning of the month when Oklahoma routed Texas in what was thought to be a statement win.
A close win over an average Oklahoma State squad may not seem like much, especially since the Sooners had to sweat out some stagnant offense down the stretch and a few near-disasters in handling the Cowboys' late pressure. But given how the Sooners had struggled on the road and in close game, it was a huge step in the right direction.
Oklahoma had a glorified practice on Wednesday in its romp over Texas Tech and then finished off a second straight Bedlam sweep on Saturday. There's still too much talent on this OU team for it to be a middle-of-the-road squad, and this week may have been a turning point of sorts.
The Sooners had a similar swoon last season when they lost three of four in Big 12 play at the beginning of February, the final loss a shocking home defeat at the hands of Texas Tech. OU rallied from that stretch and won five of their last six games, the only loss a close road defeat at Kansas.
We may be seeing a similar rally from this year's squad. If OU goes on a big run the rest of the regular season, it will be easy to point to this week as the moment when the Sooners really began to figure things out.