No. 2 Oklahoma (13-1, 2-1 in the Big 12) showed no ill effects from a triple-overtime loss to No. 1 Kansas and raced past Kansas State 86-76 Saturday before a sold-out crowd in Norman.
Buddy Hield, so far the top candidate for player of the year in college basketball, continued his torrid pace with 31 points. Hield, who scored 46 against KU, hit 11 of 14 shots against K-State, including 8 3-pointers.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone playing more efficiently than how Buddy is in terms of making shots, attacking, making good plays for his teammates,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “It’s just really impressive at this point. He works out like that. He works to do that. He’s all about winning and all about his teammates, and he knows his goal for this team is to step up and do what he’s doing.”
Hield scored 15 points to open the game.
“I just run the floor,” Hield said. “My teammates found me. Isaiah, Jordan, Ryan and Khadeem do a good job of finding me open. On offensive rebounds, Khadeem’s got it and he kicks it out to me quick. Everything is off my teammates. They do a good job of finding me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in a good spot to score in.”
KSU, where Kruger played and coached, upset the Sooners last season in Norman.
“They came out with a vengeance,” said KSU coach Bruce Weber. “I told our guys that they were playing a team that deserved to be either 1A or 1B. Those guys have improved so much. (Jordan) Woodard, Buddy (Hield), (Isaiah) Cousins and even (Ryan) Spangler have improved and worked so hard. They have made a commitment and I hope our guys learn from that.”
OU finished 11 of 19 (57.9 percent) from behind the arc against Kansas State, who entered Saturday’s game ranked second nationally in 3-point field goal defense (27.5). The Sooners finished with 10 or more 3-pointers for the ninth time this season. In 35 games last year, OU had seven games of double-digit 3-pointers.
“This is a group that’s got a lot of guys that can make plays and make shots,” Kruger said. “Jordan [Woodard]’s been shooting the ball. Knowing what he’s doing, it’s been pretty special, and it’s going a little bit unnoticed because of what Buddy’s doing. Ryan [Spangler] gets 18 rebounds in Lawrence, that doesn’t happen very often, but I understand why that’s overshadowed by Buddy’s 46. But that’s okay. Different guys are going to step up at different times. Obviously Buddy’s going to be in the center of it, hopefully every night, but that’s the nature of this club. We’re glad to have initial weapons.”