Austin Reaves, who leads Oklahoma in scoring (15.8 PPG), rebounds (5.1 RPG) and assists (5.1 APG), and Alondes Williams (7.7 PPG) were both unavailable to play due to COVID-19 protocol, the Sooners announced.
The victory made Oklahoma the third team since the introduction of The Associated Press poll in 1948-49 and the first since 1974 to record four regular-season victories over top-10 opponents in a single calendar month, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Sooners also beat Kansas and Texas in the past week and have another win over the Jayhawks earlier in January.
“It’s huge,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Anytime you can win a game like that is big from a résumé standpoint, big from a confidence standpoint, momentum. It’s continuing to move in the right direction. Those wins, you never take those for granted.”
Oklahoma forward Brady Manek, who still is just getting back to normal after being out with COVID-19, said he feels badly for Reaves and Williams.
“Just got to make sure their mind’s right,” Manek said. “It takes a toll on you, sitting at home watching guys you practice with every single day. It’s not fun. It sucks, honestly. Wish they were here, wish they could’ve experienced that. It was a big-time game and got a couple more ahead. We need them back.”
De’Vion Harmon led all scorers with 18 points in the victory, while Elijah Harkless scored 14 points and Manek added 12 for the Sooners (11-4). Alex Reese scored 15 points and Jaden Shackelford added 14 for Alabama (14-4), which saw its 10-game win streak end.
“Sometimes, when teams are down a couple of players, there’s a galvanizing effect,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “It’s happened for us and against us. I thought these guys [Oklahoma], they play hard to begin with, and then when they’re down two starters, they really bought in. We tried to tell our guys. I’ve got to do a better job making sure we’re ready to play.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.