NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma’s road woes assumed new meaning this week.
The Sooners have lost six of eight away games this year, but faced a different setback late Tuesday after a 69-61 loss at Texas Tech.
OU originally planned to fly out of Lubbock, Texas, but a forecast of snow that kept good on its promise forced the Sooners to bus back to Norman.
The Sooners returned home just before 9 a.m. Wednesday; though, they dealt with the inconvenience in stride.
“The guys handled it well,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “They kept their heads up. You can't control the weather, of course. We got back.”
The bus ride stretched nearly 350 miles and afforded the Sooners a unique bonding experience — or, at least, OU guard Austin Reaves called it a good time.
OU’s on-road entertainment included a screening of the 2005 action flick “Four Brothers,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The team eventually had to switch the movie, though, because it kept cutting in and out.
But the Sooners’ shortcomings also lingered on their mind.
“You always think the same thing after a game, which is what we could have done better,” said Reaves, who scored 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting in the loss.
Reaves and the Sooners took Texas Tech to the wire, trailing the Red Raiders by as little as three points with 1:32 remaining, at United Supermarkets Arena.
Texas Tech made late free throws to dress up its margin of victory and send OU to its fourth consecutive road loss.
The Sooners get a reprieve from the road with home games against West Virginia and Iowa State on deck Saturday and next Wednesday, respectively.
OU has lost its last three road trips by eight or fewer points, including a four-point heartbreaker to top-ranked Baylor in Waco, Texas. Perhaps, OU’s competitiveness is reason for optimism; Kruger at least acknowledged seeing improvement from his roster.
The Sooners are far from satisfied, however, with their recent efforts away from Lloyd Noble Center.
“We have to keep working to get good enough to win those close calls,” Kruger said. “Playing ranked teams on a lot of nights on the road and you have to be able to do just a little better in every area. This team is getting better.”
It’s possible OU’s tilt with the No. 13 Mountaineers (18-4) and the Cyclones (9-13) could provide momentum entering OU’s next road game — Feb. 15 at No. 3 Kansas.
OU went into each of its last three road games coming off wins. But the Sooners’ rare back-to-back home games could be the jumpstart the program needs as their conference schedule heats up and March Madness résumé-building opportunities dwindle.
“It is a good opportunity for us to go out and compete,” said Reaves of OU's Saturday game against West Virginia, “and show everybody what we are made of.”