Four days after putting a scare into the No. 1 Baylor Bears, the Oklahoma Sooners (12-3, 2-1) picked up their first marquee win of Big 12 play by topping the No. 11 Iowa State Cyclones (13-2, 1-2), 79-66.
Right out of the gate, Penn State transfer Izaiah Brockington was on fire for the Cyclones, hitting seven of his eight field goal attempts and scoring 16 points in the first half. Overall, ISU hit two thirds of its shots before intermission, but OU was able to stay in it (36-32) with three-pointers and an ability to get to the line. After the break, the hot shooting continued for the ‘Clones, who jumped out to a 47-36 lead by the 17:11 mark. However, the heat would be transferred to the home squad, who would hit 18 of their 22 field goal attempts in the second half, including nine of their final nine.
The key to the offensive success? That would be none other than freshman point guard and Kingfisher, Okla. native Bijan Cortes. The ball movement was absolutely terrific when he was on the court, as evidenced by his five assists and plus/minus of +20 in 17 minutes of action. Cortes carried the load down the stretch, and the result was half-court offensive execution that was as impressive as anything we’ve seen from an OU basketball team in quite some time.
In the points column, the Sooners were led by Umoja Gibson, who ended with 20 points on 4-6 shooting (2-3 from 3) and 10-10 from the charity stripe. Tanner Groves was his usual efficient self, going 7-13 from the field while securing a team-high six boards. Elijah Harkless added 13 points of his own on 5-9 shooting to go along with his typical lock-down defense.
Up next for OU is a Tuesday trip to Austin to face the No. 14 Texas Longhorns (7:30 p.m. CT, LHN), followed by a Saturday game in Fort Worth against the TCU Horned Frogs. After that? Back-to-back home games against No. 6 Kansas and No. 1 Baylor, respectively. The difficulty of this stretch underscores the importance of picking up this win over the Cyclones, but the Sooners are more than capable of winning any of these games — even against Baylor.