Porter Moser leads the Sooners to victory marking the first time they have won in Manhattan in over a decade. Oklahoma battles through to finish the regular season on a 3-game win streak by beating the Wildcats 78-71.
Moser said,“(this) was huge. I mean, we knew we had to do we had just taken one step at a time and I know just proud for the resiliency of this group.”
Umoja Gibson started the game off hotter than hot. He shot 3-3 from behind the arc also finished an and 1 opportunity that gave him 12 points just six minutes into the game.
“The ball found me and I hit shots, appreciate my teammates for finding me on looks,” Gibson said.
Adding a key three-pointer by Jordan Goldwire, the Sooners built a 15-7 lead.
Kansas State’s leading scorer Nijel Pack committed two early fouls which sent him to the bench with 13 to go in the first half. He did not return to the game for the remainder of the half.
Pack averages 17 points a game for the Wildcats, so this was a chance for Oklahoma to take advantage.
Where Kansas State was missing Pack, Mark Smith and Mike McGuirl stepped up. Both kept the Wildcats in this game, Smith scored 14 points in the first half and McGuirl had 10.
They led a 7-0 run for Kansas State that lasted under two minutes.
The run was short-lived though as Tanner Groves stretched the floor by sinking a bucket from downtown.
Marking the first time a Sooner has scored 20 points in the first half, Gibson continued his early heroics. He went five-of-six from behind the arc.
After shooting 57 percent from the field and a shocking 50 percent from deep, the Sooners held onto a 38-37 lead heading into halftime.
Gibson said,”we started together we stayed connected as one unit.”
Both teams began the second half competitive and went shot for shot.
Oklahoma remained the aggressor as they went on a 7-0 run with Marvin Johnson using his athletic skill set to finish a smooth layup. This gave the Sooners a 52-47 lead.
“Man he got his athleticism into the game a couple places just stick out of my mind is when he won his first three steps on transition and he got his stride into the game and he out front made a transition layup,” Moser said. “I thought Marvin did give us a really nice lift again.”
Giving the most impressive defensive performance against Pack that the Big 12 has seen all season, Oklahoma held Pack to only 10 points. Recording four fouls with 8:57 left, Pack was sent to the bench once again.
The Sooners saw multiple players come up to contribute down the stretch, growing their lead little by little. At the 4:27 mark Gibson scored his first points of the second half with a timely three. This gave Oklahoma their largest lead of 11 points.
Staying poised down the stretch, Oklahoma made five of their last six field goals. Ending with Goldwire blowing by every lavender jersey for an easy layup the Sooners won 78-71.
“I thought we were executing. I thought we were staying with it. I thought we made some shots go in,” Moser said. “We just did some things really, really well down the stretch and to maintain that lead, it’s very hard in this atmosphere with the shooters they have.”
Umoja Gibson led the way with 29 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the perimeter.
By winning their last three games of the regular season, Oklahoma did everything necessary to keep their dreams of going to the big dance alive.
“You’re constantly teaching trying to get better and better and play your best basketball in February and March and we are,” Moser said. “I’m really happy for them. I’m happy for the locker room for those guys to stay fighting through adversity.”