‘It Means More’: Cowboys Prepare for All-Important Bedlam Amid Skid

STILLWATER — Bedlam games are always important, but each team seems to be nearing a crossroad coming into Saturday.

Oklahoma State and Oklahoma meet at 11 a.m. Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena, with both team having won only three games in the calendar year to this point. With the Cowboys reeling on a four-game skid, Midwest City native Rondel Walker said the importance of Saturday’s contest is all the more magnified.

“Really it’s just a game of who really wants it more,” Walker said. “Right now our backs are against the wall, so it makes the game even that much more of importance. Whether or not we’re playing OU or not, it was a must win. And being that it is Bedlam, it’s like an all-caps MUST WIN.”

The Cowboys could get a boost from Bryce Williams, who was sidelined with an ankle sprain against TCU on Jan. 19, OSU’s most recent win, and who hasn’t returned since. On Friday morning, OSU coach Mike Boynton said Williams practiced with contact on Thursday. Boynton added that if Williams makes the progress he expects between now and tipoff, he should be available. Williams is averaging 10.6 points a game, the second-most on OSU’s roster.

This Bedlam will have a different look to it than ones in recent history. OU coach Porter Moser is in his first year with the Sooners, and two of the Sooners’ Top 3 leading scorers are new to the program in Eastern Washington transfer Tanner Groves and Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire. The Cowboys have two projected starters in Kansas transfer Bryce Thompson and Memphis transfer Moussa Cisse who will play in their first Bedlams, too.

Recent skids have slowed both teams and wiped some of the shine off this always-exciting series, though. OSU has dropped four straight games. OU has lost six of seven. The Cowboys are banned from the NCAA Tournament this season, but they could play a part in making sure the Sooners don’t go dancing either. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has OU as a 9-seed in his Friday Bracketology. The Sooners are above his “Last Four In” line, but with a tough schedule remaining, OU would greatly benefit from a pair of wins against its Bedlam rival. The Cowboys could crush those hopes while getting the moral boost of beating their rival in front of a home crowd.

“It’s already the most important game on the schedule,” Boynton said Friday. “I don’t know if it can become more important than that. But there’s a high sense of urgency around our program and understanding all that goes into preparing for game against our rival and a really good team.”

Walker and Boynton both made references to looking at this game when the schedule was released. Walker said they tell the team’s newcomers, “We don’t lose this game.” With all that’s going on with both teams in the now, it’s easy to forget that Bedlam games aren’t a for sure thing moving forward with OU leaving for the SEC. These few remaining meetings might just mean more.

“When the schedule comes out, there are a few games that you mark down as highlights,” Boynton said. “This is a highlighted game. And it’s highlighted because winning this game, it means more to our fans. It means more fans. It means more to our former players. It is what it is. You can try to pretend like, ‘Oh, it’s just another [game] …’ It’s not just another game.”

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