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Bedlam: Cowboys and Sooners need a moment

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Bedlam basketball has returned to relevancy.

Finally.

These past few years have been boredom when it comes to Bedlam. No sizzle. No hype. Sure, any time Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet for an athletic competition, there’s a little added juice. But for most fans, there hasn’t been much excitement about the men’s basketball games these past few years. Neither team has been good enough to take the games to another level.

That changes Saturday.

OSU and OU are both NCAA Tournament-caliber teams. Whether they both make the field remains to be seen, but they’re at least in the hunt.

That changes the vibe.

Know what else would change the tenor of this rivalry?

A moment.

There have been so many great moments in Bedlam basketball history over the years. Just in the past few decades you can count David Little’s last-second shot that beat OSU in Stillwater in 1983, Victor Williams’ buzzer-beater (or was the shot clock expired?) that beat OU in Stillwater in 2003 and Byron Eaton’s foul on Terrell Everett (or was it really a foul?) right before the buzzer that allowed OU to escape in Norman in 2006. And who can forget OU beating OSU in 2000 in what was the final game in pre-renovation, pre-expansion Gallagher-Iba Arena? Or the night that the Sooners wore orange T-shirts to honor the Cowboys and the 10 men lost in the plane crash?

And then there was the craziest Bedlam of them all — the game between the Cowboys and the Sooners at the 2009 Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.

I was across the street that night from what was then the Ford Center covering the Big 12 women’s tournament at the Cox Convention Center, but I could almost feel the ground shake. It happened that the arena was split nearly evenly between Cowboy and Sooner fans, so no matter what happened, the arena would be buzzing. The Sooners would make a play, and the crimson-clad fans would go berserk while the orange-clad ones fell silent. But then the Cowboys would make a play, and the OU fans would pipe down and the OSU fans would crank up.

The noise was constant, and the volume was loud.

“I remember it being split in half, orange and red,” Cowboy coach Travis Ford said. “I remember it being a tremendous atmosphere.

“I remember a lot of people saying it might have been one of the best Big 12 Tournament games ever.”

Some folks even said it was the best Bedlam ever. Better than Gallagher-Iba Bedlam. Better than Lloyd Noble Bedlam.

And it wasn’t just the atmosphere. The Cowboys and Sooners played an amazing game. The game went back and forth, the James Anderson Cowboys pulling ahead a bit, then the Blake Griffin Sooners taking the lead right back. It went like that throughout the game until the end when Anderson got fouled with 2.3 seconds left. He hit both free throws to give the Cowboys a one-point lead. The Sooners had to go the length of the court to even get a shot, so Taylor Griffin inbounded the ball 70 feet to his not-so-little brother who launched a 22 footer. The shot clanged off but was rebounded by Tony Crocker.

Only problem: the game clock didn’t start.

Officials blew the play dead and went to the instant replay. They spent a couple of very tense minutes at the scorer’s table looking at the screen. It was one of the only times the arena was quiet. The officials eventually ruled that time would’ve expired before Crocker’s rebound and that the Cowboys were the victors.

OSU 71, OU 70.

Cowboy fans erupted.

So did Sooner fans.

“Great crowd,” Ford said. “And obviously it was a big win for us at the time, because they were one of the best teams in the country.”

That was the last time Bedlam had a moment.

I’m not naive enough to think Saturday’s game will live up to such lofty heights, but wouldn’t it be grand if was one of those games we were still talking about a decade or two in the future? Bedlam basketball has returned to relevancy. It needs to get back in the business of creating memories, too.

 

 

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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