Over the last four months Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Iowa State's Georges Niang have showcased their talents as two of the Big 12's top basketball players. On Thursday night, in Kansas City, the two seniors showed off in what was most likely the final time the two would face each other at the collegiate level.
Hield set an Oklahoma Big 12 Tournament record with 14 made baskets, on his way to a 39-point performance, to keep the Sooners an arm's distance in front of the Cyclones. Iowa State's only hope was in their star forward who exploded in the second half to give Iowa State a punchers chance. At times it seemed as if Hield and Niang were playing one-on-one with eight spectators on the floor as the two exchanged baskets over the final twenty minutes.
Niang exited his final Big 12 contest with 31 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks but he was overshadowed by the repeat Big 12 Player of the Year who made one clutch shot after another to bounce the two-time defending Big 12 Tournament champions.
"I am happy to say that he is my friend and I am proud of him. But from a competitor standpoint, I wish he'd miss a couple more shots," a laughing Niang said after the game. Matt Thomas had the task of guarding Hield and he was there to recognize first hand that it was a special night. "When a scorer like that gets into a rhythm," Thomas said, "it's tough. He was making shots and getting to the free-throw line."
Hield was 9-for-9 from the free throw line and basically Oklahoma's only scoring option through the first twenty minutes of the contest. Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins joined Hield in scoring in double figures with 10 points each but this was clearly Buddy's night and the Sprint Center, also known as Hilton South, turned into Buddy's muse with the basketball court being where he displayed his art.
How, Buddy Hield? Just how? https://t.co/csQMqQqe4f— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 11, 2016
"We wanted to come in here and prove something tonight," Hield said in the post game, and that's exactly what he and Lon Kruger's crew did. Now with Oklahoma having their sights set on the second seeded West Virginia Mountaineers you can bank on Bob Huggins keeping his eye on #24.