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OU men's basketball: Sooners looking to bounce back after loss at Iowa State against Kansas

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Kristian Doolittle and De'Vion Harmon

Senior forward Kristian Doolittle and freshman guard De'Vion Harmon talk during the game against Kansas State Jan. 4, 2020.

Oklahoma (11-4, 2-1 Big 12) is looking to bounce back from an 81-68 loss at Iowa State on Tuesday when No. 3 Kansas comes to the Lloyd Noble Center.

The Sooners went into Ames riding a four-game winning streak and two straight wins to begin conference play. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State at home before picking up their first win in Austin against Texas since 2015.

Before the Sooners game against Iowa State, freshman guard De’Vion Harmon said that he’s been happy with the team’s success but that they needed to be prepared for the adversity the team will encounter as they navigate a tough Big 12 schedule.

“We’ve just got to keep it going,” Harmon said, “It’s a lot but we’ve just got to stay patient, stay consistent and persevere through that adversity because the adversity is gonna hit. Now I don’t know if it’s gonna hit tomorrow, I don’t know if it’s gonna hit on Tuesday when we play Kansas or next Saturday when we play TCU but it’s gonna hit eventually and we’ve just gotta be ready for it.” 

The Sooners experienced some of that adversity against the Cyclones, entering the half with their largest halftime deficit of the season. Oklahoma shot 45 percent from the floor but scored just 25 points due to nine first half turnovers.

This isn’t the first time the Sooners have struggled offensively to begin a game. In their first loss of the season against Stanford, the Sooners scored a season-low 24 points in the first half.

“I think you can always be better at everything,” Harmon said, “ I think we’re really good but we’re not great yet and that’s where I want to get us to, is being great, but it takes time. You’ve gotta stay efficient, stay consistent and get better at the things we fall short of. I think if our defense is on point tomorrow night it’ll give us a great chance to win.”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is leading a very young squad through one of the most difficult conferences in the country. Every team in the Big 12 has a winning percentage over .500 and four teams are ranked in the AP Top 25.

The Sooners’ lone senior, forward Kristian Doolittle, says that the new faces on the team are beginning to learn what is going to be expected of them.

“It was really big for our team, you know being able to continue our win streak,” senior forward Kristian Doolittle said, “A lot of people it was their first time playing in a Big 12 game. We had our first home game and now our first away game so we kinda have an understanding of what to expect from here on out.”

On Tuesday, the Sooners will welcome the Jayhawks to Norman in their toughest test so far this season. Oklahoma is pulling out all the stops to get fans excited for the game. Last week, Oklahoma announced that fan-favorite mascot Top Daug will return after a 16-year retirement. 

“I’m excited,” Doolittle said, “It’s something new it’ll be a good experience for people who’ve seen Top Daug before. I’ve had a lot of people ask me ‘What is Top Daug?’ but I feel like it’s a good time to bring him back against Kansas, we should have a good atmosphere.” 

Doolittle says the Sooners are excited for the challenge they’ll face when the Jayhawks come to town but insisted the team is just taking it one game at a time.

“It means a lot, it’d mean a lot more if we won the game,” Doolittle said, “It’s one thing to have them come to Norman but we’ve still gotta be able to play well. But we’ll worry about Kansas after the game on Saturday.” 

Oklahoma will take on No. 3 Kansas at the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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