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Remembering Sooners Basketball Amid Big 12 Departure

Mar 5, 2024; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Porter Moser high fives fans after his team beat the Cincinnati Bearcats in overtime at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2024-2025 college basketball season gets underway, Porter Moser and Oklahoma Sooners Basketball will no longer be part of the Big 12, which they joined back in 1996.  Moser did not reach the NCAA Tournament during his time in the conference. Before the final season for Oklahoma in the Big 12, coach Moser had plenty to say about the new move to the SEC:

“It really doesn’t change a thing because we’ve known we’ve gone to the SEC. We’re playing — it’s not like sometimes that you’re moving up drastically to a new conference. The Big 12 has been the best basketball conference unequivocally the last two years since we’ve been in it.

“The thing is there’s going to be a time and an excitement to talk about what we’re going to do, but right now our focus and our feet are planted in Big 12 basketball.”

Remembering Sooners Basketball Amid Big 12 Departure

The Sooners played 28 seasons as members of the conference. Before that, they were part of the Big Eight Conference, which they joined in 1928. Many do not realize Oklahoma started their college basketball play as a member of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

The Sampson Years

As members of the Big 12 Conference, the Sooners won just one regular season conference title. That came in 2004-2005, with a familiar face as the head coach. Kelvin Sampson was the man in charge of Sooners basketball. They finished with a 30-6 record, and 12-2 in conference play. Sampson was responsible for getting Sooners basketball back on the map. Before that, the last time they took down a conference title was in 1988-1989. That was the final conference title for Billy Tubbs at Oklahoma.

That 2004-2005 team did not win the conference tournament that season. That would have been their fourth as members of the Big 12. The Sooners did win back to back to back titles starting in 2000. Kelvin Sampson was once again responsible for those talented Sooners teams. Sampson’s time at Oklahoma was very successful, with an average of 24.4 wins over nine seasons. He later left his post to be the head coach at Indiana. Many will remember that Sampson’s time at Oklahoma was marred by NCAA violations. He was cited for more than 500 illegal calls to his staff and potential recruits.

Final Four Season

The last time the Sooners played in the NCAA Final Four they were led by Lon Kruger. Kruger was the head man from 2011-2021. This hiring came after Jeff Capel. Kruger was widely known for his ability to lead a new program to great heights. The head coach became the first coach to a win a NCAA Tournament game with five different schools.

Since joining in 1996, the Oklahoma Sooners made the NCAA Tournament 19 times in school history. The best season was in 2016 when they reached the Final Four, where Villanova beat them by 36. That was their first trip to the Final Four since the 2002 team that lost to Indiana. The Sooners were 23-19 in the NCAA Tournament as members of the Big 12 Conference.

The 2003 team received the lone 1 seed in the big dance. That came 13 years after their streak of back to back to back top seeds from 1988-1990. In 2009 and 2016, the Sooners were talented enough to grab the 2 seed, while in 2005 and 2015, they were a 3 seed in the big dance.

Big Names in the Big 12

During his time in the Big 12- Buddy Hield is the highest scoring Sooners star. Hield is second in school history behind Wayman Tisdale. Hield has 2,291 points, which is 370 behind Tisdale. Hollis Price was another name that tortured the Big 12 Conference during his time at Oklahoma. He scored 1,821 points from 2000-2003.

Swan Song

The 2023-2024 season was up and down for the Sooners in the Big 12.  In the end, the final season was not one to remember. The Sooners went 8-10 in conference play, and 20-12 overall. The Sooners were the 9th seed in the Big 12 tournament and fell in the first round 77-70 to TCU. Eventually, Iowa State went on to win the conference tournament over the Houston Cougars.

Rivalries Coming to an End

The Sooners will put to rest some big rivalries they have garnered over the years. The biggest is against Oklahoma State. The Sooners have a 90-75 mark against the Cowboys since the 1949 season. Kansas and Kansas State were the toughest for the Sooners to take down. The Jayhawks beat Oklahoma 116 out of 161 tines, while Kansas State went 87-67 against them over the years. Oklahoma fared best against TCU. Albeit with a limited sample size, they beat the Horned Frogs 22 out of 31 times.

What’s Next for the Sooners

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Sooners found out who they will be facing when they join the SEC. They will take on Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt at home. In all time school history, the Sooners are 13-2 against SEC foes.

The landscape of college sports, and college basketball certainly has changed. But one of the key stories when the season gets underway is the Oklahoma Sooners leaving the Big 12.

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