Three days after the Oklahoma Sooners upset Iowa State in Norman, they were set to face Kansas State in Manhattan. The win against the Cyclones was a big one for the Sooners, and had catapulted them to No. 25 in the latest AP poll. However, a win on the road against a Wildcats team which had beaten Oklahoma State earlier this season would solidify the Sooners’ status as Big 12 contender. Ryan Spangler, after a 16 point and 15 rebounding performance Saturday, posted 21 and 14 tonight. Thanks to Spangler, the Sooners were able to keep it close and even led late in the second half, but they were ultimately tripped up by the Wildcats stifling defense, losing 72-66.
The Sooner offense, powered by Buddy Hield, got off to a quick start. Early on, the Sooners held a 17-11 lead. Kansas State would eventually battle back to take the lead, and after a back and forth bout between the teams, the Wildcats waltzed into the locker rooms with a 39-38 lead.
On the road, and with the momentum glaring at them from the Kansas State bench, it would have been easy for Oklahoma to give up. However, that is exactly what the Sooners did not do. The resilient Sooners marched out of the locker room and put up a fight. Though Kansas State increased their lead to five early, it didn’t take long before the Sooners matched their score, after a D.J. Bennett tip-in knotted the score at 51. Ryan Spangler took over, scoring seven of Oklahoma’s next 11 points, and the Sooners soon found themselves up 62-56 with 5:37 remaining.
From then, it all went downhill.
After a three, a couple baskets, and several Sooner misses, the score was 63 all with 2:43 to go. Marcus Foster promptly nailed a three to give the Wildcats the 66-63 lead. Je’lon Hornbeak hit one of two free throws to chisel the lead down to two, but after that, it was all Kansas State. The Wildcats outscored Oklahoma 16-4 from that 5:37 mark, and held the Sooners without a field goal from the 6:16 to 0:08 mark of the game. Their dominating defense put them in a position to gain control of the game and etch out a victory.
The impact of the Kansas State defense cannot be understated. Oklahoma, which averages 85.8 pointer per contest coming into the game, was held to 66. The Sooners shot just 33.3% from the field, and 30.4% from three, well below their season averages. The Wildcats also held Cameron Clark, the Sooners’ leading scorer, to 2 points on 1-for-9 shooting. The Sooners still managed to outscore Kansas State in the paint, off of turnovers, on second chances, and in bench points.
In what is considered a rarity this season, Buddy Hield was the only Sooner besides Spangler to score in double figures, with 12 points on the evening. Other notables were Frank Booker (9), Isaiah Cousins (7), and Tyler Neal (7).
Next up, Oklahoma (13-4, 2-2) will travel to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears (13-2, 1-1). A win would efface the loss tonight from the minds of Sooner fans and perhaps pollsters. More importantly, it would put Oklahoma on track for a good finish in conference play. Tip-off is set for 1 PM CST on Saturday, Jan. 18.
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