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Big XII Semifinal | 3 Keys To Victory For The Oklahoma Sooners

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Break Fred Hoiberg's System

The last time these two met, the Oklahoma Sooners defensive presence knocked the Iowa State Cyclones out of sync. Constantly switching on screens around the perimeter kept the ball out of Georges Niang's hands. At least that was the case for the first half as Niang managed a mere three points while the Sooners cruised to a 19-point lead on the road.

After the break, head coach Fred Hoiberg made vital adjustments that his team bought into. Beginning to spread the floor, Monte Morris forced the Sooners into isolation situations defensively rattling off 19 points that sparked a 22-0 run and the comeback was on. From then on Niang took control of the game scoring 20 points in the second half lifting the Cyclones to a 77-70 victory.

I'd expect Hoiberg to implement the same tactic of spreading the floor out creating favorable match-ups for his star players. In retaliation, Lon Kruger must come prepared, ready to defend in one-on-one type situations while keeping track of the perimeter shooters who have proven to be lethal time and time again.

Keep It Cool

Twice in recent history, the Sooners have built a comfortable lead during the first twenty minutes of play before a boneheaded incident occurred ultimately leading to defeat. First, it was Amath M'Baye flashing "Horns Down" in Austin against the Longhonrs during February of 2013 before a 22-point lead disappeared. Then, it was Isaiah Cousins drawing a technical foul for words hurled toward the Iowa State bench earlier this month before a 19-point deficit was erased.

Needless to say, the Sooners must keep a level head instead of letting emotions completely take over as it tends to lead toward an undesired outcome.

Dominate The Glass

Over the course of the year, Ryan Spangler showcased a natural talent for rebounding the ball. The physicality of the junior was once again on full display in the quarterfinals of the Big XII Tournament as Spangler pulled down 15 boards. He'll need to continue his successes on the glass. Why? Defensive rebounds not only end the opponent's possession, they also lead to fast break opportunities. The Sooners are at full strength when getting out in transition as the conditioning of the starting five stacks up against any other group of five in the nation.

Make no mistake, this stat line remains two fold.

The Iowa State roster lists six player currently averaging 10+ points per game. What the Cyclones lack defensively, they certainly make up for in offensive threats. Limiting the number of shots Morris or Niang or Bryce Dejean-Jones or [insert ISU player name here] can put up on a single possession should prove crucial in securing a win to advance to the Big XII Championship.