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Oklahoma Basketball: Sooners fall at Iowa State, 78-61

Oklahoma hung tough for a half, but the game got away from the Sooners in a hurry.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners played competent basketball for a half, but things quickly got away from them as the Iowa State Cyclones prevailed by a score of 78-61.

In the first half, Oklahoma looked like a team that truly intended to make a bit of a statement and add a nice road win to its resume. The Sooners were creating good looks on offense and holding their own on the glass — two things that have been serious challenges during the low points of this season. Christian James and Kristian Doolittle had eight points apiece, and both were playing with a level of energy and confidence that, at the time, seemed to bode well. Aaron Calixte also got in on the act, hitting two of OU’s six first-half threes.

After going 6/10 from deep in the first half, things went in the wrong direction after the break as good looks became a rarity. OU went 0/8 from beyond the arc and 10/31 overall en route to a 25-point half. Meanwhile, Iowa State showed a sense of urgency on both ends and got cooking from the field, hitting 8/14 deep attempts in the second half and pulling away for a convincing win.

Kristian Doolittle ended up leading the Sooners with 15 points on 5/15 shooting (2/8 in the second), while Christian James added 12 of his own on 5/17 (2/9 after the half). One bright spot for OU was Jamuni McNeace, who scored 12 points (5/7) while grabbing five rebounds.

Marial Shayok, whose offensive outburst gave Iowa State the necessary cushion in the second half, led the way for Iowa State with 21 points (8/13, 3/6). Freshman Talen Horton-Tucker was the only other Cyclone to reach double figures, scoring 18 on 6/10 shooting (2/5).

Oklahoma now sits at 17-11 overall and 5-10 in Big 12 play. A win would’ve gone an awfully long way in its effort to weasel its way into another NCAA Tournament bid, but most didn’t expect the Sooners to come out on top in this one to begin with. If this team wants to feel fairly comfortable on Selection Sunday, they’ll need to beat West Virginia in Norman on Saturday, somehow steal one against either Kansas (Norman) or Kansas State (Manhattan) to close out the regular season and then win one in Kansas City (likely against either Oklahoma State or West Virginia). That would give Oklahoma 20 wins, which would get the job done regardless of the conference record. However, with the way the bubble is looking right now, OU could theoretically make the field with only 19 wins. In that case, we will all need to write a thank-you note to the Pac-12 for being so incredibly bad at basketball and leaving some spots open for the good conferences.