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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU holds on to take down Iowa State, 79-72

Iowa State hit 16 threes, but the Sooners buckled down late to avoid the bad loss.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners entered Saturday with the task of avoiding the “bad loss” to an Iowa St. Cyclones team that was finally back to full strength, and they did just that with a 79-72 victory. OU improves to 12-5 on the season and 7-4 in Big 12 play with the win.

The upset-minded Cyclones were hot from long range from start to finish, hitting 16 of 31 three-point attempts on the day. However, OU’s ability to mitigate the damage in other areas proved key defensively. One thing that stood out was the toughness of recently-reinstated starter Brady Manek in the interior. In spite of that fact the he only scored nine, his intensity (which translated to 15 rebounds) was arguably the biggest key for the for the Sooners on the day.

Additionally, OU’s ability to seize control for spurts allowed it to keep ISU at bay, as the Sooners went on runs of 8-0 or greater on four separate occasions.

Offensively, Austin Reaves scored 16 (5/10 from the field) while dishing out eight assists in his first game back from a two-game hiatus. While he didn’t always look like he was at 100 percent, he was mostly sharp in spite of his four turnovers.

Three other Sooners scored in double figures, highlighted by defensive stalwart Elijah Harkless and his 19 points (6/9 FG) — seven of which came in the first four minutes of action. Fellow transfer Umoja Gibson also contributed 18 points (6/11 FG, 4/9 3FG), while sophomore forward Jalen Hill added 11 on 5/7 shooting.

With the middle of the week being open due to COVID-19 issues at Baylor, the Sooners will be back in action next Saturday as they head to Morgantown for a rematch with the No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers. The action is set to tip off at 12 p.m. CT and be carried on ESPN+.