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Boynton, Cunningham Not Backing Away from Bedlam’s Importance

‘We don’t like them.’



[Photo via Courtney Bay/OSU Athletics]

Mike Boynton raised a few eyebrows in his locker room speech after beating Kansas on Jan. 12.

With a Bedlam game supposed to be four days later, Boynton told his team about the Sooners, “We don’t like them. It’s personal.” That game ended up being postponed, but with OSU and OU being set to meet at 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Monday, Boynton still isn’t buying into the “just another game” cliché.

“I embrace competition,” Boynton said. “We want to win. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that. I don’t know why anybody would say that it’s not important. What are we playing for? The game does mean more to our fans, that’s just the reality. I’ve always just tried to be pretty honest about it.

“We don’t like them. That’s how I feel, and we’re gonna go try to win the game. That’s how I approach them all.”

Boynton is 3-4 against OU as a head coach. He was also an assistant on OSU’s 2016-17 staff that went 2-0 against the Sooners. So, Saturday will be his 10th game in the rivalry.

It will be superstar freshman Cade Cunningham’s first. Cunningham grew up in Arlington, Texas. It’ll be his first taste of a rivalry to this magnitude.

As a freshman and sophomore in high school, Cunningham attended Arlington-Bowie. He said Bowie’s biggest rival was Arlington-Lamar, where his siblings and mother went to school. At Montverde Academy in Florida, Cunningham played in games against IMG Academy and Oak Hill.

Cunningham is the latest star to take part in Bedlam, following guys like Trae Young, Marcus Smart and Blake Griffin. Young averaged 32.3 points a game in three Bedlams, Smart put up 20 a game in his three and Blake Griffin averaged 22.8 points in four renditions of the rivalry.

Unless the Cowboys and Sooners meet in the postseason, Cunningham’s two-game Bedlam legacy will be decided in a three-day span.

“Just to be able to put my print on this game, no matter how it goes, being able to say I’ve experienced that and played in that game, it’s something that I’m forever going to remember,” Cunningham said. “I’m always gonna be able to live with this game. I’m excited, man. I’m really excited, for sure.”

Boynton has been a part of multiple college rivalries, whether it was his playing days at South Carolina or coaching stops at Furman, Coastal Carolina, Wofford and Stephen F. Austin. But Boynton said his experience with Bedlam is different than other rivalries he has been a part of.

“I think it is unique in this sense: everybody picks a side,” Boynton said. “There’s no, ‘I want to see the state do well,’ not during this game. Even the people who go to the other schools in the state, they like one school or the other in this rivalry. I think that’s what makes it unique is that it goes beyond just the game.”

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