McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 7, 2014

OU has presence at Big 12 conference

By John Shinn
CNHI

Oklahoma City — Depth was a predicted strength for Oklahoma this season. Finally, with Big 12 Conference play in full swing, it has all shown up.

Sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak returned to the floor for last Saturday’s 88-85 victory over Texas. He didn’t score any points, but played 14 minutes in his first game back since suffering a broken foot on Dec. 10.

“There’s a little soreness, which is to be expected,” OU coach Lon Kruger said of Hornbeak. “More than anything, he just hasn’t played in a while. He’d just practiced a little bit in days prior to Texas, but he came through it very well.”

Hornbeak, who was OU’s first guard off the bench in the eight games prior to suffering the injury, said his foot wasn’t really where he was aching Monday. His conditioning probably isn’t where it needs to be.

“I’m sore and a little bit sluggish right now but we’ve got a good training staff. I came in for treatment and took it a little light today,” Hornbeak said following Monday’s practice. “I’ll do more tomorrow and have myself ready to go Wednesday.”

The Sooners (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) face No.18 Kansas (9-4) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center.

Hornbeak was originally expected to miss four-to-six weeks of action when the injury was originally diagnosed. He made it back on the court about a week ahead of the prognosis.

Still, the plan was for Hornbeak to play about four-to-five minutes against the Longhorns. He was pressed into extended action because point guard Jordan Woodard picked up two fouls in the first five minutes.

“I think I played about 10 more minutes than I thought I would,” he said. “I thought I was prepared for it and I thought I had my mind in the right spot in case it did happen. I did the best I could.”

Memories: Kruger is in his third season at OU. The signature win thus far was last season’s 72-66 victory over then No. 5 Kansas. The win sent fans and students into a court-storming frenzy.

“It was crazy,” OU forward Cameron Clark said. “Last year we played hard and did what we needed to do to get the win. This year, nothing is different.”

Something has changed: It’s been a long time since OU and Kansas met when the Sooners had a better overall record at the time. The last time it occurred was Jan. 19, 2002 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. OU entered the game at 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks were 14-2 and 3-0 in the league.

Kansas won the game, 74-67.

Cousins will against Kansas: OU guard Isaiah Cousins was ejected in the final minutes of the Texas after receiving his second technical. The sophomore guard will not face a suspension for the ejection.

Cousins is averaging 10.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds a contest this season.

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com