ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For 103 consecutive games leading into Saturday's matchup against Oregon in the Elite Eight, Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins walked onto the floor each night, one by one, together as Oklahoma starters.
The consistency birthed a brotherhood that has pushed this group to this point in the NCAA tournament. But controversy always arrives at significant junctures.
On Friday, Hield boasted of his love for reggae and its influence on the rest of the team.
"Everybody loves the reggae," said Hield, a native of the Bahamas. "It's cool. ... I'm just happy I was able to set a trend there and show some island love to them."
But, like men and women who consume their partners' bland dishes with smiles on their faces, or watch TV shows they hate to keep the relationship strong, some of Hield's teammates admitted they only tolerate the senior's obsession with reggae, music that ricochets off the walls in practice, because it's good for the team.
"It's funny because they say they don't understand the music I listen to, but I don't understand reggae," said Woodard, a hip-hop fan. "I try to just stay in my own music lane and let them listen to the reggae."
He's not alone. Spangler says he blocks out the reggae when Hield blasts it.
"I put my headphones on," he said. "It's not a problem. There's some songs I like, but he plays it pretty loud and some of them are bad."
It's not just music that separates this tight group. Their distinct diets demand patience, too.
Hield loves candy and soda, Woodard said. And that worked for Woodard a few years ago because he also loved sugar. But now he's aiming for a healthier life. Spangler will eat anything. That helps. But Cousins?
"He wakes up early in the morning," Woodard said. "He likes breakfast food. He makes himself bagels and stuff like that all the time. All the time."
It's important to highlight the few differences within this foursome because their basketball feels so unified and coordinated. The Sooners own top-15 slots in Ken Pomeroy's offensive- and defensive-efficiency ratings. They connect on 42.6 percent of their 3-point attempts, the No. 2 mark in the country. Opponents connect on only 44.5 percent of their attempts inside the arc against the Sooners, a top-40 mark.
Their time together on the court fuels a synchronization that few teams understand.
When Hield stole the ball in Oklahoma's first game against Cal State Bakersfield and met three defenders on the other end?
"I knew he was pulling up," Spangler said. "It was like a one-on-three. I think that's why it's hard to guard us. We know what each other is going to do."
Cousins said he knew Hield would race into the stands after he made the half-court shot that fell after the final buzzer against West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament because "that's his thing."
"When Buddy puts up a shot, I know it's going in," Woodard said. "When Isaiah gets to his sweet spot or Ryan's running the floor, it's just simple things. It might be simple to me, but it's hard for me to break it down. We're just together so much, we pick up each other's tendencies. You can just look him in the eye and see he might be a little sluggish, and you might say something that helps pick up his spirit."
It's that connection that helped Oklahoma roll into this matchup against Oregon with a Final Four ticket on the line.
Winning in the late rounds demands poise. And for 103 consecutive games, they've fought through the storms together. Now they're here at the Honda Center with a chance to take the next step.
Yes, Oklahoma will play for the pride of the program, the guys in the locker room, Lon Kruger, the campus and perhaps an entire state and fan base, which includes country singer Toby Keith.
But Jordan Woodard, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins will also play for one another.
"We've been here forever together," Spangler said. "Spent a lot of days together. Been through good and rough times, so I want to go out on a high note for them."
If they win Saturday, Hield probably will push play on his reggae playlist in the locker room, and Cousins will support that choice, because he too loves reggae. If Woodard gets his way, however, he might demand more hip-hop. Perhaps a little country for Spangler.
"I like Ryan because he listens to country music," Woodard said. "I don't listen to country music. He's been trying to get me to listen to it, but I ain't been on it yet."
They might not agree on music or food. But they're all focused on the same mission, a dream they believe will not cease before they reach Houston.
"I told Buddy before the last game that I'm not done with y'all, meaning the seniors," said Woodard, the only junior in the group. "I'm not done playing with y'all. It means a lot to just keep on playing with them. And just get as much experience with those guys as possible."