Last Friday, I began my exploration of the state of Big 12 basketball ten years ago. I examined Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Missouri. Today, I’ll finish the piece by examining the 2001-02 seasons of the remaining Big 12 teams.
Today, Oklahoma basketball is struggling after consecutive years of underachieving. But ten years ago, Oklahoma’s basketball program reached its pinnacle, winning the Big 12 Tournament and appearing in the school’s fourth Final Four. The Sooners were led by dynamic guard Hollis Price, who at the time was widely considered the best basketball player to come from the Sooner State since Wayman Tisdale. The 2001-02 Sooners started the season with a 13-game winning streak, and finished it with a 12-game winning streak before falling to upstart Indiana in the 2002 Final Four.
The Oklahoma State teams of the early 2000s seemed to always teeter on the line of greatness, but never seemed able to reach it until its 2003-04 breakout season where the Pokes went all the way to the Final Four. Unfortunately, the 2001-02 Cowboy team didn’t have the same essential pieces as that Final Four team. The team started out very hot, winning its first 13 games and moving up to #5 in the nation by Christmas Day. Things became difficult for the Cowboys once they entered conference play, though, and Eddie Sutton’s team never seemed to find its stride. For three weeks, OSU followed two consecutive conference wins with two consecutive conference losses. The team fizzled in the postseason, losing in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament to Texas Tech, and proceeding to get knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Cinderella Kent State.