The Oklahoma Sooners, fresh off of a 67-60 victory over TCU on Saturday, have been on an absolute tear recently, winning eight out of their last nine games after struggling through a rough slump in which they lost four out of five game between January 10th and the 24th. A win over an Iowa State basketball team that, although has lost two straight, is still one of the most talented squads in the nation, will only skyrocket the Sooner’s stock as the NCAA Tournament nears.
The Cyclones have been tough to knock off at home this year, having only lost three times this season at the Hilton Coliseum. Coach Hoiberg’s offense is run by one of the most versatile backcourts in the Big Ten, with Monte Morris and Bryce Dejean-Jones scoring and distributing the ball effectively from behind the arc. Morris averages 11 points, 5.4 assists, and a solid 1.7 steals per night. They also have one of the best power forwards in the nation in Georges Niang, 14.8 points and 5.4 boards per clip while shooting an incredible 40.6% from downtown, which is amazing for his size. Jameel McKay, Dustin Hogue, and Naz Long are also great contributors to the Cyclones’ rotation and have decent all-around talent.
The Sooners run Jordan Woodard at the point, who averages 9 points and 4.2 assists, and has proven to be Lon Kruger’s most consistent free throw shooter, entering the game tonight with a nice 84.4 percentage at the charity stripe. Buddy Hield has been one of the most versatile and consistent scorers in the country, averaging 17 points, 5.4 rebounds, and is shooting 38.1 percent from behind the three point line. He has been one of my favorite players this season, and the Bahamas native should be a factor in tonight’s conference affair. Isaiah Cousins, Woodard’s battery mate in the backcourt, has been the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 12 points, 4.9 rebounds, and is shooting a team-best 44.5% from behind the arc. Ryan Spangler should also prove to be a pivotal piece in tonight’s ranked battle, as his rebounding and interior presence on both sides of the floor is a valued part of Lon Kruger’s game planning.
The game airs at 9:00 ET on ESPN.
This game between two of the Big 12’s best teams will have a lot on the line, as Oklahoma needs to win tonight and take out top ten ranked Kansas next game in order to grab a share of the Big 12 regular season title. I just think that Coach Hoiberg and Iowa State will and need to bounce back after two straight conference losses. The Cyclones are still in contention for a top three seed in the NCAA Tournament. With a win tonight and a win on the road against TCU next game, along with a few solid team performances in the Big 12 conference tournament, the Cyclones could potentially be flirting with a high three seed, and maybe even a low two seed when the regular season and conference tournament is all said and done.
Cyclones 71-Sooners 67
*Section Photo credit to David Purdy, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Alonzo Adams, USA Today Sports