They knocked home 15 triples—10 of those were in the first half—good for the most ever against a Sooner club.
And it was an efficient 15 treys, as they converted them on just 30 attempts for 50 percent.
That proved to be just too much for the Sooners to overcome.
“It’s frustrating,” said forward Romero Osby. “You hate to see that because we knew they were one of the leading teams in the country in shooting threes, especially attempts. It seems like they were just making everything today. Every time we’d go for the rebound and the ball was going through the net.”
Every other time, but you get the point.
It was a rough night defensively for the Sooners.
“It’s frustrating when anybody scores on you consistently,” said guard Sam Grooms. “Threes makes it even worse. They made shots tonight. We could’ve guarded better, we could’ve done a lot of things better, but that’s the pleasure of basketball; we have tomorrow and we’ve got to get better and be ready for Missouri. There’s no other way to talk about that. They made shots tonight. We need to guard better as a team.”
In total, the Cyclones shot 47.2 percent from the field, actually hitting a greater percentage from beyond the arc than inside it.
OU still shot it well, making 42.9 percent of its attempts, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
“Hard-fought game,” said Sooner head coach Lon Kruger. “I told the guys afterward that a lot of the possessions we liked, but not a high enough percentage of good possessions. Too many possessions that we have to improve on a lot.”
And that’s something that really doesn’t turn up on the stat sheet.
Good shooting percentage.
The Sooners won the board battle 38-29.
Because of that, they took 10 more shots.
And they turned it over just 10 times.
All of that points toward extreme efficiency, but it was hardly the case.
That’s because the turnovers came at key times, most notably Grooms’ cough-up in the last minute of regulation.
“I just mishandled the ball,” Grooms said. “There’s no other way to explain it. I mishandled the ball, cost my team a play and a chance to get a shot off at the rim.”
OU could have drawn within one or possibly tied it at that point.
Guard Carl Blair dribbled it off his leg in the first half when OU could have trimmed a 35-30 deficit even closer.
See, it’s plays like that Kruger is referring to.
Plays like that that cost teams games, like these did.
Still, there was plenty of good to draw from it.
Forward Andrew Fitzgerald finished with a career-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting.
Osby had himself a game, too, with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
“They are both doing a terrific job making shots, playing with confidence and playing with aggressiveness,” Kruger said. “We need that to continue. Again, we are going to learn from the things they didn’t do as well but they are doing a lot of good things. A lot of good possessions in the ball game. These guys shots the ball very well, but then on the other side of that we have to take that for what it’s worth, which is good. But we have to keep making progress.”
Guard Steven Pledger was the third Sooner to finish in double figures with 14.
Five Cyclones ended in double figures, including forward Melvin Ejim who led all scorers with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
Guards Scott Christopherson, Chris Babb, Chris Allen and Tyrus McGee had 15, 12, 11 and 10, respectively.
The game featured three ties and six lead changes, all in the first half.
Iowa State led by as much as 10 in the second half before OU stormed back to tie it at 56.
It closed the game on a 21-14 count.
The Cyclones led 38-36 at intermission, and OU never led again.
OU has to rebound quickly for a Big Monday game against Missouri at 6 p.m. CT inside LNC.
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