Before Oklahoma (16-8, 6-5 Big 12) eventually took its 90-61 blowout victory over Iowa State on Wednesday, the Sooners were on the verge of falling behind for the second time in the first half.
Iowa State (10-14, 3-8 Big 12) drilled a 3-pointer to shorten the Sooners’ lead to 37-36 with less than a minute remaining until half.
The shot stifled Oklahoma momentarily, forcing the Sooners to rush a 3-point attempt on the other end that gave the Cyclones a chance to go into halftime with just their second lead of the night.
Yet, as it has happened many times inside the Lloyd Noble Center this season, things didn’t go as planned for the opposing team.
A critical ISU turnover after the Sooners’ blunder allowed sophomore guard Jamal Bieniemy to find a red-hot redshirt junior forward Austin Reaves who drilled a 3-pointer of his own — sending the Sooners up 40-36 into half.
“It was good to see it go in,” Reaves said. “Just to get the score up a little bit more. Jamal found me, and I just let it go.”
OU would go on to outscore Iowa State 50-25 in the second half, avenging their crushing 81-68 loss to the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa on Jan. 11.
Six different Sooners had 10 points or more in the win. Just days removed from his 27-point performance against No. 13 West Virginia, senior forward Kristian Doolittle was once again the leading scorer for Oklahoma. He ended the night with 20 points on 6-13 shooting. Junior forward Brady Manek the team’s second most points with 18.
“I feel like we played how we were supposed to play … we had high intensity practices leading up to this game,” Doolittle said. “Especially since the way that we got beat at their place. We had some revenge we had to give back to them. So, you know, we checked it off the list and now we gotta get ready for Kansas."
For Oklahoma, now is the perfect time for players like Doolittle and Manek to find their hot hand as the Sooners prepare for a two-game stretch that will pit them against two top-three teams in No. 3 Kansas and No. 1 Baylor.
“You look at pretty much any three to four game stretch in the Big 12 and you say, ‘Wow that's tough,’” head coach Lon Kruger said. “Now, we’ve got two of the top three teams in the country on the schedule, but that’s the way it is in the Big 12.
We have a lot of individuals playing well, a lot of good ball movement, we have good things going on right now. So we have to keep getting better to have a chance to go into Lawrence and play our best.”
The win also improved OU’s home record on the season to 11-1. With just three home games remaining on the Sooners’ schedule, it’s safe to say that if Oklahoma wants to have any postseason Cinderella stories this season, it’ll have to get the job done on the road.
Oklahoma returns to play at 11 a.m. on Feb. 15 to take on No. 3 Kansas in Lawrence.