Wildcats guard Angel Rodriguez blew by Sooner backup point guard Sam Grooms, induced a foul and cashed the game’s winning free throws with less than 10 seconds left.
“I was expecting the ball screen,” Grooms said. “They had been running ball screens all night. My read said he was going right, but he went left. Credit him; he made the right read.”
Grooms’ 3-point heave came up empty at the horn in order to allow them to escape.
But had it not been for Grooms, the Sooners wouldn’t have even had a chance.
He drained a huge 3-pointer to draw OU within a bucket and followed up with a nifty running layup with just 13 seconds remaining to tie up an ugly game down the stretch.
“Sam gave us a good spark and gave us some attack,” said OU head coach Lon Kruger. “We didn’t have much attack and Sam got it going downhill sometimes; we needed some of that. I thought he had good lift when he went into the ball game and made some nice plays.”
Moments earlier, forward Romero Osby came up with one of the game’s most critical plays, converting an and-one with 1:58 to go.
All that helped OU erase an eight-point lead in the final two minutes.
However, that wasn’t enough to overcome an otherwise stagnant offensive performance in which K-State dominated defensively most of the way.
The Wildcats, who actually shot a worse 37.5 percent, held the Sooners to just a measly 38.8 percent from the field.
At one point, OU went scoreless for 10:41 in a stretch that spanned the final 6:27 of the first half and a huge chunk of change in the early minutes of the second.
“I thought they were into it and dictated for most of the night with their defense,” Kruger said. “We had trouble getting separation and trouble scoring.”
Even so, the Sooners only found themselves down seven points at 30-23.
They finally broke that drought when Osby put in a turnaround with 15:46 remaining in the game.
Moments later, Grooms came off the bench to give the Sooners a huge spark with a beautiful spin move off the dribble up court and lay in to cut the Wildcats advantage to 31-29.
OU drew within one when backup guard Isaiah Cousins drilled his second triple of the ball game, making it 33-32.
But K-State sharpshooter Will Spradling took care of that, hitting a 3-pointer then a deuce a couple possessions later.
At that point, it looked like K-State might start to pull away.
But the Sooners, boosted at one point by a furious alley oop slam from guard Cameron Clark, wouldn’t go away before closing in late.
“In the end I thought we really fought hard,” Kruger said.
Neither team led by more than five in a first half that featured six ties and four different lead changes.
Osby finished as the only Sooner in double figures with his 13.
Spradling and guard Martavious Irving managed that feat for Kansas State, pouring in 12 and 10, respectively.
OU actually outrebounded Kansas State 38-34 and outscored its visiting foe 26-24 in the paint although coming up short in the end.
The Sooners don’t have long to right the ship, heading to Ames, Iowa, for a 6 p.m. CT contest against the Iowa State Cyclones.
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