Oklahoma basketball: Five things to know about Sooners vs. No. 8 Iowa State

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that we have been saying this all season, but the Oklahoma basketball men are about to encounter the most difficult two-game challenge of the entire season.

But then, that's life this season in the country's best basketball conference, the Big 12 -- or should it be the Big 14-soon-to-be-16.

Fresh off a dramatic, buzzer-beating road win over in-state rival Oklahoma State, the Sooners head to No. 8-ranked Iowa State tonight and then head back home to host newly minted No. 1 Houston on Saturday.

Oklahoma, a game away from 20 wins and 7-7 in the Big 12, is 123-93 all-time against Iowa State (21-6, 10-4). The Sooners are responsible for one of the Cyclones four conference losses, posting a 71-63 victory at Lloyd Noble Center on Jan. 6 in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

But this is a different Iowa State team than the one the Sooners faced in early January. And the Cyclones are as good as any team in the country when playing on their home floor at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State is a perfect 16-0 at home this season and has lost just three times there in the last two seasons.

Adding further to OU's challenge in what could be the Sooners' final visit to Hilton Coliseum is the brutal fact that Oklahoma is just 2-8 in its last 10 games there.

Wednesday night's game is not available in commercial or cable TV. It will be available, however, on ESPN+ at & p.m. CT. Shawn Kenney and Jess Settles will be on the call.

Five things to know about Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Iowa State

  • There is a fairly significant difference in NET rankings between Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Sooners are 39th in NET and 8th in the Big 12; Iowa State in 8th in Net and in 2nd place in the Big 12, a game and a half back of Houston.
  • Iowa State averages 77.9 points a game and is the second-best defensive team in the Big 12, allowing opponents just over 60 points a game (62.9). Three Cyclone starters average in double figures in scoring, led by UNLV transfer Keshon Gilbert at 14.2, and Curtis Jones averages 10.2 off the bench.
  • In Big 12 play, the Sooners have four starters averaging close to 10 points a game with Javian MCollum scoring at a 13.4 clip vs, conference opponents. Oregon transfer Rivaldo Soares, who his teammates like to call "Waldo," has been on a terror in recent games. He had a team-high 20 points coming off the bench and playing with an injured ankle against Oklahoma State.
  • Oklahoma junior guard Javian McCollum has made 35 consecutive free throws and is shooting 94 percent from the charity stripe this season (78 of 83). The Siena transfer is two free throws away from tying former Sooner Nate Carter (2007) for the most consecutive free throws in program history. His current percentage, which ranks fourth best in the Division I basketball, ranks ahead of Hollis Price (92.9 in 2003) as the best in OU men's history.
  • Oklahoma's back-to-back games this week against No. 8 Iowa State and No. 1 Houston, reminds me of the 1989-90 season. That season, Billy Tubbs' Sooners defeated No. 1 Missouri 107-90 on a Saturday and followed that up with a 100-78 win over new No. 1 Kansas two days later. Both those games were played in Norman. Oklahoma finished that season with a 27-5 record.


Iowa State is a 9.5-point favorite against Oklahoma and is 19-8 against the spread this season. The Cyclones are also playing at home, where they are unbeaten this season and the Sooners are 2-8 in the last 10 trips to Iowa State. The Sooners have as many road wins as Iowa State, both at 3-4 away from home, but the Cyclones are the better team and playing more consistently than the Jekyll-and-Hyde Sooners. Iowa State 78, Oklahoma 63.