OU upset of Iowa State shows strength of Big 12 teams
The Big 12 could be the toughest league in college basketball.
As of Monday, the RPI rankings showed Kansas as No. 2, Iowa State as No. 5, Oklahoma State as No. 10, Oklahoma as No. 15, Baylor as No. 17 and Kansas State as No. 41.
That’s five of 10 Big 12 teams ranked in the Top 17 of the nation and six potentially going to the NCAA Tournament.
The strength and parity of the conference surfaced Saturday as No. 25 Oklahoma upset previously undefeated No. 8 Iowa State 87-82 in Norman.
Oklahoma made a season-high-tying 13 3-pointers. The Sooners (13-3, 2-1) posted a 41-34 rebounding advantage and outscored the Cyclones (14-1, 2-1) in second-chance points by a 22-2 count.
“It was a huge win, obviously,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “Iowa State is a really good club. Fred (Hoiberg) does such a good job and they have so many weapons. They space the floor and just make it awfully tough to guard. You kind of have to pick your poison sometimes, but I’m really proud of our guys.
“In the second half there we got two or three stops when we really needed them. We have been kind of trying to work and learn how to do that. We have got a long way to go defensively, but I’m happy for those two successful trips there.
“Buddy (Hield) was knocking down shots.”
Hield made a career-high six 3-pointers on 12 attempts and tallied 22 points for the second time in three games (18 in the other). Hield, whose career high is 23 points, added five rebounds, an assist and a steal in his 32 minutes. He has scored at least 17 points in 10 of 16 games this year and has reached double digits in 15 (did it seven times all of last season).
OU’s Ryan Spangler had 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Seven of his boards were offensive. Spangler now has eight double-digit rebounding games this year, more than the entire OU roster last season (seven).
“Ryan (Spangler), I thought, was really key in the ball game,” Kruger said. “He didn’t have a whole lot going on offensively but he just kept getting the ball back on the offensive boards and fighting like crazy, which is no big surprise. He has done that all year.”
“He is one of those guys that hustles,” Hield said of Spangler. “It is something natural for him and he does a good job of finding the ball and getting the rebound and finding me, or giving the ball to Jordan (Woodard) and Jordan finding me. It is good for our team and a good tool we can use to help us win.”
“Well we got our butts kicked on the glass,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “That’s the bottom line. They beat us 22-2 in second-chance points. For the game, they shoot 40 percent and we shoot 52 percent and we end up getting beat by five. That shouldn’t happen. They shot the heck out of the ball. There is no doubt about that, and obviously we didn’t shoot the ball very well. Here we are with a five-point loss and having been outscored in second-chance points 22-2. That was the ball game.”
The Iowa State win was critical following a narrow home loss to Kansas last week.
“We needed this one,” Heild said. “This win was a must win for us. We had to come out and execute our game plan. Iowa State is a great team and they shoot the ball well and have a lot of mismatches, just like us. We just had to find a way to win the game at the end and we did that.”
Iowa State entered the game averaging just 9.6 turnovers a game. The Cyclones committed 13 turnovers Saturday and Oklahoma turned them into 25 points.
In three meetings last year (two Iowa State wins), the Cyclones outscored OU 87-36 from 3-point range. On Saturday, the Sooners posted a 39-18 advantage. Hield matched ISU’s total himself. The Cyclones entered the game averaging a Big 12-leading 9.1 treys per outing.
OU guard Isaiah Cousins finished with 17 points for his second-highest career total (career high is 19). Cameron Clark, who entered the game leading the Big 12 with his 18.7 points per game, was held to 12 points on 4-for-16 field goal shooting.
The Sooners played at Kansas State Jan. 14 and will travel to Baylor Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff.