Sooners seek to end two decade drought at KU

Hollis Price was 0-2 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

NORMAN, Okla. — It's been a long time since the Sooners have won at Allen Fieldhouse.

Back then Bill Clinton was in the second month of his first term as United States president.

Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" was atop the Billboard charts.

Gas prices averaged $1.16.

A movie ticket roughly set you back $4.14.

And Ty Warner USA launched the first Beanie Babies—remember those?

As for the players, well, most of them probably hadn't even touched a basketball yet.

"I was four years old," said OU forward Amath M'Baye. "I was probably just being very cute, very handsome like I am today. That's about it."

Said forward Romero Osby: "I was three years old, man…well two years old. I didn't turn three until May, so I don't know what I was doing. I was probably sucking a bottle or something like that. So, I didn't know anything about basketball. I know that."

Heck, I was even still in preschool (I'm not THAT much older than the players on the team).

Translation: it's been a long time.

Two coaches—Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel—have come and went, unsuccessful at doing so.

A third, Lon Kruger, is in midst of his opportunity.

The Sooners haven't escaped Allen Fieldhouse with a victory since 1993, when their Billy Tubbs-led club won 80-77 Feb. 17 after falling the first time at Lloyd Noble Center a month earlier during the old Big Eight days.

But here comes another try.

The onus is now on yet another new group to break a skid that spans 11 games dating back to that last victory atop Mount Oread.

The task undoubtedly won't be easy as OU must knock off the nation's No. 3 team featuring stud freshman guard Ben McLemore and veteran senior shot blocker Jeff Withey.

They're a squad that's won 16 consecutive games with just one loss all season and is playing with a ton of confidence.

So, the Sooners (13-4, 4-1 Big 12) will have to be at the pinnacle of their game in order to make it happen.

"Sustain their runs," Osby said. "They're gonna make a run. They're at home and they're one of the best teams in the country. Continue to just keep our defensive pressure going, continue to take care of the ball and continue to rebound. If we do those things, we'll have a chance at the end."

Given the history, it's a legitimate question whether or not that plays into this and how much the players focus on it perhaps being a tougher environment than the rest.

Kruger shied away from those suppositions.

"Oh, we don't talk too much about that," Kruger said. "What happened here 20 years ago doesn't affect this group too much. Kansas has been good for a long time, and they're tough to beat up there."

M'Baye expanded on that.

"I mean, certainly OU has been great," M'Baye said. "I mean, look at all these banners. That means they've beat a couple of these great teams, and it's a new era. We got new coaches. We've got new players and it just depends on us and how willing we are out there to go win and how willing we are to just like go out there and execute the game plan all these coaches are drawing up for us.

"It's gonna be a war. It's gonna be a grind. But I think everybody's ready and I'm very confident in our team.

Simply put, they know Phog Allen Fieldhouse is a tough place to play and it hasn't been kind to them, even many of their most elite teams in recent years, but they have belief that it can be done and history doesn't truly matter.

"It's a new year and somebody's gotta beat ‘em in Lawrence one day," Osby said. "So, hopefully it can be us."

They'll attempt to make that happen when they tip at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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