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February 8, 2007It may have been an upset as far as the national rankings were concerned, but Oklahoma's 67-60 victory over No. 17 Oklahoma State was no surprise to anyone who has been following both teams over the last month of Big 12 play.
The Bedlam victory catapulted Oklahoma above .500 in Big 12 Conference play for the first time this season at 5-4 in the league while Oklahoma State dropped their second consecutive Big 12 road contest to fall to 4-4 in the league.
The difference for Oklahoma was the continued big plays from Nate Carter in the game's final minutes. Carter scored six of his eighteen points late in the game. When the Sooners have needed someone to pull them through, Carter has been there time and time again.
"We just tried to execute and take the game over the in the final five minutes," said Carter. "It was important that we do that because we did it against Texas Tech and we did it again tonight."
Oklahoma took a 30-20 lead into the locker rooms at halftime, but an 11-1 Oklahoma State run to start the second half helped put the Cowboys right back in the game.
The Sooners were also bolstered by another strong performance from Longar Longar who had 13 points, seven rebounds and four shot blocks on the evening.
Longar's performances show a steady improvement in the once-timid big man.
And together, Carter and Longar are creating problems for the opposition. When Oklahoma State made their second half run, it was OU's newest inside duo which helped turn the game back into Oklahoma's favor.
"I thought that Oklahoma did a good job when we got up 46-44 when they got the ball inside and (Longar) Longar made a big basket and (Nate) Carter hit a big shot for them," said Oklahoma State Head Coach Sean Sutton.
With so much energy expended trying to overcome their early deficit, the Cowboys had little left in their tanks after those possessions.
"We have to get off to a better start and not get in a hole," said Sutton.
The Bedlam victory can only mean more positive things on the horizon for Jeff Capel's Sooners. The word NCAA Tournament is even starting to float around Norman with the way Oklahoma has been playing lately.
The Sooners will now try and become road warriors with back-to-back road contests at Baylor and Iowa State.
It's not inconceivable that this group could come back home with a 7-4 record in the Big 12 Conference.
"It's really fun to coach these guys right now," said Capel. "They've completely bought into what we've brought. There's a sense of urgency with how we're playing. They want to make the most of every opportunity. The sky's still the limit."