Norman, OK—The dagger to the Sooners tournament hopes may have come from the hand of Iowa State’s Marial Shayok. Shayok drained a fade-away 27-foot three-pointer against the shot clock with 33 seconds remaining.
Oklahoma was desperate for a win after losing two conference games to Baylor and West Virginia. The Sooners brought energy from the opening tip, something they lacked over the past week.
“We kept fighting… we kept fighting to the end,” Christian James said.
The Sooners took a 1-point lead into halftime, showing signs of life. Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek combined for 20 first-half points to keep the Sooners ahead at the break.
The second half proved just as even as the first with neither team sustaining a long enough run to pull away. Iowa State held a 7-point lead for just over 30 seconds in the second half before the Sooners cut it 2 points.
Overall, Oklahoma played much better than they have over the past two weeks.
Doolittle showed flashes of his brilliance from earlier in the season, posting 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Manek played well offensively but was a half-step slower than his Cyclone opponents. He scored 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting (4-7 3FG).
James put up a quiet 10 points, shooting 40% from the floor.
Off the bench, Rashard Odomes provided energy throughout the second half, scoring 9 points. Odomes was first on the floor and tough for the Cyclones to deal with in the paint as Odomes contested every shot he faced.
“In Big 12 basketball, you always expect to fight all the way to the end… This is a group that works hard,” Kruger said, “We [coaches] have to help them get better results.”
Fighting to the end seems to be the mantra for this team. A mantra that has made the Sooners the bridesmaid more than the bride in conference play. Stumbling well past the starting gate, Oklahoma needs to kick the spurs as they head for the final stretch. With No. 18 Texas Tech coming to Norman on Saturday and a trip to Waco next Monday, the Sooners tournament hopes appear as small as they have all season. Only time will tell how far the early season overachievers will fall from grace.