Oklahoma basketball: Can OU right its listing ship against sunken Iowa State?

Feb 6, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Austin Reaves (12) drives to the basket around Iowa State Cyclones guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (5) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma won 79-72. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Austin Reaves (12) drives to the basket around Iowa State Cyclones guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (5) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma won 79-72. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

Wednesday, March 10. 464. Sooners -11. 8:30 PM CT. 2-21, 0-18. 461. ESPN. 14-9, 9-8

Oklahoma men’s basketball heads into the Big 12 Tournament losers of four straight games and hoping to avoid a fifth against No. 10 seed Iowa State.

The No. 7 Sooners and Cyclones will play in the second game Wednesday night at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The game is scheduled to tip-off around 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Sooners (14-9, 9-8) have seemingly hit a wall after winning eight of nine games just ahead of their current four-game losing skid. The troubling thing about all of this is that OU is not playing as badly as its record the past few games would indicate. They just haven’t been able to finish despite holding leads late in each of the past four games.

Oklahoma has not had a lot of success in Big 12 Tournament games under head coach Lon Kruger. The Sooners are just 2-8 in the conference tournament since 2012. And in 2019, the last time the Big 12 Tournament was held, OU lost as a No. 7 seed to No. 10 West Virginia.

Oklahoma defeated Iowa State twice during the regular season, but both games were close in the second half, and the Sooners’ confidence has been shaken by their recent struggles.

The Sooners lead the overall series between these two longtime conference foes 119-91, but the Cyclones have won six of the last 10 games.

Iowa State failed to win a conference game this season in 18 tries and is just 2-21 on the season.

Rasir Bolton is Iowa State’s lead scoring threat, averaging 15.4 points a game, although he has not played since suffering an ankle injury against TCU on Feb. 27. Jalen Coleman-Lands is the Cyclones’ ‘next best scoring option, with a 14.3 average, and is shooting 45.5 percent from behind the three-point line in the last five games.

The Sooners have four starters scoring in double figures, led by the Big 12’s second best scorer, Austin Reaves, who averages 18.8 in Big 12 games. Reaves is the only player in the Big 12 era to average 18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists during conference play.

A losing streak will come to an end for one of the two teams in this game. Iowa State is riding a prolonged 19-game losing streak, while No. 25 Oklahoma has lost four consecutive games after climbing as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press rankings.

The Oklahoma-Iowa State winner will move on to face No. 3 seed Kansas at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. That contest will be carried on ESPN or ESPN2.

What fans need to know about the OU-ISU Big 12 Tournament matchup

  • Iowa State is not a team you want to have to foul late in games. The Cyclones are the best free throw-shooting team in the Big 12, making close to 78 percent of their free-throw attempts.
  • The Cyclones have been the lowest seed in the Big 12 Tournament seven different times. They’ve been a No. 10 seed three times and lost the opening game all three times. The Cyclones have also won the tournament five times (2000, 2014. 2015, 2017 and 2019).
  • Oklahoma has shot a higher percentage from the field and outrebounded Iowa State in both games between the two teams this season. When the Sooners shoot a higher percentage than their opponent OU is 27-3 over the last two seasons.
  • Brady Manek is averaging 16.5 points in his last two games and appears to have regained his shooting touch after struggling for quite a few games after his return from COVID protocols in mid-January.
  • Oklahoma is 0-5 when it scores 65 points or less this season and 14-4 when it scores more than 65 points. Iowa State, on the other hand, is 0-20 when it gives up more than 65 points in a game.
  • During OU’s four-game losing streak, the Sooners have been outrebounded by an average of 10 rebounds. OU has averaged 27 total rebounds in the four games. When Oklahoma grabs 31 or more rebounds in a game, it is 13-0 this season.
  • The Sooners are used to playing close games this season. More than half of their 23 games (12) have been decided by five or fewer points.
  • Oklahoma has gone from the No, 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament to No. 7 in just a couple of weeks. The Sooners are the No. 25 team in the country, according to the AP rankings, and all six Big 12 teams ahead of them in the standing are ranked in the nation’s top 25.


It’s hard to beat a team twice, let alone three times, in the same season. That is the challenge a struggling Oklahoma team faces against Iowa State, winless in Big 12 games and the Big 12 Tournament’s lowest seed. The Sooners are the better team, but we all know the better team doesn’t always win, especially going against a hungry team that is fully capable of pulling off an upset if it can play well for a full 40 minutes and not just in spurts.

Having lost four consecutive games, I do not expect Oklahoma to take the 2-21 Cyclones for granted. The Sooners know they have to shoot well, play stronger defense than they have lately and keep the pedal down for a full 40 minutes to win and advance. I expect them to do all three.

Oklahoma wins by +9