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OU will be challenged in Stillwater

The Oklahoma Sooners head north to Stillwater Saturday afternoon for the final round of Bedlam against Oklahoma State. The Sooners took the first Bedlam meeting 77-68 on January 12th in Norman. Since then, the Cowboys have gone 7-1 and have won six straight.

"It’s a huge game,” said Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger. “We're getting into the second-third of the conference season and it's a game where they are in first and we are a game back. It's a big game, tough challenge for our guys. It will be a great atmosphere there. O-State is playing terrific basketball right now. They have a big win the other night and looked very good doing it. We know how tough it will be."

While the Cowboys are on a streak right now, Kruger believes that everyone in the conference is playing better right now.

"Probably everyone is,” said Kruger. “That was five weeks ago so everyone has improved and certainly they are on a six or seven game winning streak or whatever. They've won a lot of games and playing very well.

"I think individually they are playing five weeks improved. They are five weeks more experienced. They are playing with confidence. When you win some close games it usually promotes better play and they are doing that."

The Sooners will being playing without freshman guard Buddy Hield who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken foot.

"He feels good, obviously not as good as he would if he was playing but his spirits are good,” said Kruger. “His surgery went well. He'll be right there helping out as best as he can."

Don’t expect the Sooners to make a lot of changes with Hield on the sideline.

"It won't be a lot different from what they have done,” said Kruger. “It's not like Je'lon (Hornbeak) will be doing something different from what he has been doing. He's played well the last couple of ball games. Cam (Clark) has been playing pretty well for a while. They'll just have more minutes to do the same things they have been doing."

OU's Steven Pledger

OSU Freshman guard Marcus Smart has been one of the Big 12's top performers this year, averaging 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and team highs of 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals. Smart had ten points against the Sooners in the first outing but was limited with foul trouble.

"He's had such a great year and can impact a game in so many different ways. He got into foul trouble here the last time and it certainly burdened him a little bit and limited his minutes. But, that's not something you can bank on."

The Sooners and Cowboys will tip off at 12:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Stillwater.

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