Make no mistake, Jeff Capel's checks come from the athletic department at the University of Oklahoma. But in his news conference after Oklahoma's 73-64 loss to Missouri at Mizzou Arena on Wednesday, Capel was so liberal of his praise of Missouri he could have been compensated for his endorsement.
Capel opened his statements by crediting Missouri for playing Wednesday's game at its own tempo.
"They played with so much energy. They were terrific," Capel said. "Mike Anderson's done a great job here."
Capel last traveled to Mizzou Arena during the 2006-07 season, when his Sooners lost to Missouri, 72-68, in front of just over 9,000 people. Oklahoma was welcomed, rudely, by a crowd of 15,061 on Wednesday, another sell out.
"[The atmosphere] was great. The crowd was magnificent. The students were in it. The thing that made it great was this team. They give them something to cheer about. They give them something to be excited about. The style, the energy - they feed off each other," Capel said. "This is so much better than it was two years ago when we came here. That's a credit to everyone that's involved in this athletic department and those kids that lay it on the line for Missouri."
Earlier in the season, Capel went on the record saying that Oklahoma could play with anybody in the country as long as they were healthy. That statement held true going into Wednesday, as Oklahoma's only losses this season had come with either Juan Patillo or Blake Griffin nursing injuries. Missouri became the first team to beat Oklahoma at full strength.
Asked if he was rethinking his statement, Capel replied emphatically.
"Nope. It's one game - on the road in a tough place," Capel said. "Not many people have (pause), hell, no one has come here and won."
Amidst fielding questions about his team's conditioning, poor ball handling, and recent slide at the end of the season, Capel also detailed why Missouri could make a deep run come time for the NCAA Tournament.
"They have a style that's difficult to prepare for," Capel said. "They have guys that have bought into their system. DeMarre Carroll is having a first team all-league kind of year. I think, personally, Lyons is their most talented player. They have such a great mix of veteran guys, young guys, their toughness, and they're well-coached.
"This is a team that's going to be very difficult to deal with."