Buddy Hield sank a three with 7:35 remaining in the first half to give the Oklahoma Sooners a 26-12 lead. Preceding that was a triple by Jordan Woodard. This was not a short, dominant stretch that would soon evanesce. Those two possessions would set the tone for what would be 40 minutes of complete control for the Sooners. Hield would lead the Sooners with 18 as Oklahoma would defeat the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 86-73 on Saturday afternoon.
As has become a recurring theme in Sooner victories though, it was a myriad of contributions that led to the win. Isaiah Cousins just trailed Hield in the point column, with 17 of his own. Cameron Clark had 11 and led the team with eight rebounds. Woodard contributed 10. The bench, headed by Je’lon Hornbeak (8) and Frank Booker (7), scored 23 combined. It was a collective, controlling effort.
The Sooners made it clear from the get-go that they were set to amend for their loss in Manhattan earlier this season. After a short back and forth battle to start the game, the Sooners took the steering wheel and went on a 24-4 run. During this stretch, Oklahoma held the Wildcats without a field goal for periods of three minutes and four minutes. At the end of the run the Sooners held a 38-14 advantage. The Wildcats would make a small surge back that was like a whisper next to Oklahoma’s boisterous roar, but still trimmed the lead to 19, which, with a half left to play, seemed manageable.
Whatever hopes Kansas State had of a potential comeback were promptly wrecked when the Sooners came storming out of half time. Oklahoma didn’t skip a beat, ballooning its lead to 27 and keeping it above 20 for the majority of the second half. Cousins did most of his damage in the second half, where he scored 12 of his 17 points. Kansas State, around the six minute mark, was awaken from its slumber and put together a valiant comeback attempt. However, at that point the damage was irreparable. Their comeback attempt was thwarted as Oklahoma went on to win the game.
Oklahoma can credit its first half stinginess on defense to the win. The Sooners held the Wildcats to 39.1% from the floor in the first, which opened the door for them to pounce. Oklahoma shot better in the second (60%) than in the first, but it was their first half effort that set the tone for the win.
Even though Ryan Spangler, the team’s leading rebounder grabbed only two boards, Oklahoma won the rebounding battle, 32-28. The Sooners also forced 13 turnovers, won the points off of turnovers battle, and second chance points battle.
This win is especially important because, with Texas’ recent loss to Kansas, it puts the Sooners in a three way tie with Texas and Iowa State for second place in the Big 12. The Sooners still have to play the Longhorns on March 1 in Norman, setting up a potential battle for second place. The fact that the Sooners were picked to finished tied for 5th with Kansas State only makes this more impressive.
Next up, Oklahoma (20-7, 9-5) will travel to Lawrence to take on the preeminent Kansas Jayhawks (21-6, 12-2). Tip-off is set for 8 PM CST at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Monday, Feb. 24.
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