Amath M’Baye thought he had the bull by the horns.
His two-handed flush on the back end of a Sam Grooms lob bumped Oklahoma’s lead over Texas to 22 with less than eight minutes to play. The lifeless, offensively-scant Longhorns had all but roped their own legs.
And so the OU junior forward, new to the Red River Rivalry after transferring from Wyoming and sitting out last season, whipped out his lasso for one final gesture. M’Baye flashed an upside-down “Hook’em Horns” hand signal — mocking the traditional Texas symbol — as the Sooners closed in on their first season sweep of the Longhorns in eight years.
From there, Texas, realistically oblivious to M’Baye’s derisive jab (sorry to put a damper on a Disney-esque storyline), took over. Formerly suspended sophomore hotshot Myck Kabongo spearheaded a spirited 32-10 run in the final 7:38 of regulation, capping off an improbable rally with an even more improbable circus shot as time expired to force overtime. In all, Kabongo scored 15 of his team’s 32 points during the rally.
A group that averages just 32 points per half, the Longhorns mustered their halftime average in less than eight minutes on Tuesday to conjure the greatest comeback in program history. In the extra session, Kabongo chipped in eight more, completing a 13-minute stretch in which the young point guard tallied 23 points. The showman in crimson managed just three points over the same span.
Even for a Sooner, M’Baye bit too soon in showcasing his insincere imitation. Let this serve as a cautionary tale for inexperienced trash-talkers. There’s never a safe time to prod a beleaguered rival.
Additional Note: Give credit to Sooners senior leader Romero Osby, who called out M’Baye for his showmanship immediately after the act. Resisting the temptation to gloat and setting a teammate straight in the emotional high of a 22-point lead is not easy to do without the foresight of the final score. While good-natured taunting is a boon for college basketball, it isn’t for a bubble team when it comes at the expense of a rivalry game rife with tournament implications. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to pin Oklahoma’s loss solely on M’Baye, as no Longhorn was visibly moved by the gesture and no Sooner seemed at all distracted.