Two of the best guards in the nation collided on Saturday evening as only one could come away victorious. Oklahoma's Buddy Hield made a statement while netting a career high 31 points. In comparison the rest of the team barely outscored the junior guard with 32 points of their own.
On the other side of the argument, Marcus Foster has been up and down this season eventually being benched by Coach Bruce Weber. Tonight, the sophomore displayed poise and composure in pressure packed moments that decided the outcome of the bout.
Without a doubt, Marcus Foster made the two biggest shots of the night. The first came at the end of regulation as the sophomore guard let go of a floater that sailed over Ryan Spangler's outstretched arms to even things up on the scoreboard and send the game into overtime.
During the extra period, the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats once again found themselves knotted up at 63 a piece. Curling around the 3-point line, Foster gathered the ball, set his feet, and let the game winning shot fly.
Buddy Hield Can't Do This Alone
On 11-of-20 shooting, Hield provided a consistent scoring option. However, the Kansas State defense packed the lane and refused to give up points in the paint. Combine that with poor shot selection from the rest of the Oklahoma offense and it becomes clear as to why the Sooners lost their first conference game of the year.
Sure, Buddy got a bit of help inside from TaShawn Thomas who added 14 points and 11 rebounds but the guards all but disappeared. Jordan Woodard played uncharacteristically on the night failing to get to the free throw line while Isaiah Cousins connected on just over 20% of his shot attempts. Hat tip to Spangler who recorded a career high 4 blocks and another career high 3 steals.
If Oklahoma hopes to compete for the conference crown, Cousins and Woodard are going to provide support to Hield. The duo combined for an underwhelming 2-of-15 shooting. Credit the KSU defense for forcing these two out of their comfort zones. In the same breath, I understand that players have an off night so shake this one off and keep shooting! Shots will fall eventually but for now focus on West Virginia. Simply put, Hield cannot do it alone although he tried his best tonight.
The Rotation Includes Only 7 Players Now
It should come as no surprise that Khadeem Lattin has passed up D.J. Bennett in the rotation. Bennett flashed improvements over the course of the non-conference portion of the schedule. But, Lattin provides a much higher ceiling. Working with a younger player to get experience should pay off in the future.
Yet, it doesn't explain the absence of Frank Booker. The sharp shooter has played limited minutes leading up to Saturday's loss. Could he still be nursing a back injury? It's possible and we'll have to do a little more digging to get to the bottom of this mystery.
The Big XII Is No Joke
Hours after Oklahoma St. pulled off an upset in Stillwater with a win over the Texas marking the Longhorns second consecutive loss, Kansas St. upset the Sooners. Needless to say, there are no weeks off in conference play. On any given day, one program can pull of the long shot upset to shake up the Big XII standings. The only question that remains: Who will rise above the rest?