The Iowa St. Cyclones were red hot coming into Norman and looked to continue their streak. The Oklahoma Sooners were looking to jump start the rest of their season by cooling down Royce White and the perimeter shooting we all knew was coming into town in an attempt to build confidence that would carry into the remainder of the season.
While these were the two main keys to victory for the Sooners, only one of them was upheld as the Cyclones continue to do what was once thought impossible, win and win again. Many picked them as well as the Sooners to finish near the bottom of the pack. This was certainly a battle of the Cinderellas so to speak but only one would prevail. The Cyclones dashed the dreams of confidence building for the Sooners and left them wanting more.
In a "must win" game for the Oklahoma Sooners, Andrew Fitzgerald was up to the challenge putting up a career high of 27 points. As usual the trio of Fitz, Romero Osby, and Steven Pledger were up to their normal antics as they continue to lead the team in scoring. Out of the 70 total points scored, this trio was accountable for 58 of them. This is not a bad sign but the bench continues to struggle to contribute combined with Cameron Clark falling back into a slump we are now accustomed to seeing.
One of the major concerns coming into the game was Royce White, the versatile big man for the Iowa St. Cyclones. Big XII teams have definitely taken note of his abilities and have begun to game plan around him. However, when the focus is on White, the perimeter tends to open up and the Cyclones will more than capitalize from range.
Oklahoma, went with the decision to put Fitz on White and for the night was very successful at limiting the big man. White finished far below his season average with 3 points while only attempting one shot. However, White was able to use his uncanny court vision to finish with 7 assists, an area he continues to excel at.
Oklahoma out rebounded the Cyclones by a margin of +10 which included 12 from the offensive glass. However, it was close out defense where the Sooners lost this one as at one point, Iowa St. was shooting 20% better from the field than OU was.
The Cyclones only had one starter finish below the .500 mark from beyond the arc in Chris Allen. The team combined for 15-30 from 3-point land (one shy of a school record for makes). It became very clear that Oklahoma has some work to do in defending the perimeter, but then again, this is a very good shooting team from the next area code.
If the Sooners are looking to finish the season strong, the big three must continue to keep it going. I would hope to see Clark coming off the bench again as he added a spark as the 6th man we haven't seen since the departure of Calvin Newell. Carl Blair Jr. in addition to Sam Grooms in the starting line-up adds ball security as the point guard duo had a 12 to 3 assist to turnover ratio.