Men's basketball: OU prepares for rubber match against Iowa State in first round of Big 12 tourney
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The Oklahoma men’s basketball team will try to put its surprising loss to TCU in the rearview mirror as it takes on Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
In their last game, the Sooners (20-10, 11-7 Big 12) couldn’t recover from an atrocious first half as they fell to TCU, 70-67.
OU trailed 44-22 at the half before closing the gap to one point and eventually falling to the Horned Frogs, who rank dead last in the Big 12.
“Very disappointing play on Saturday,” coach Lon Kruger said. “It was hard to anticipate that, given that we had shot the ball so well and played with so much energy, but we didn’t really do either on Saturday. Credit TCU, they came out and had great energy and took the fight to us.”
The Sooners will need to crank their energy up a notch if they hope to compete with Iowa State (21-10, 11-7 Big 12).
The Cyclones appear to match up fairly evenly with the Sooners, as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in their two meetings this season.
Iowa State won 83-64 in Ames, one of the Sooner’s worst losses of the year. However, the Sooners recorded one of their best wins when the two teams met in Norman, winning 86-69.
The recent return of freshman guard Buddy Hield, who missed the last meeting against Iowa State with a broken foot, will bolster the Sooners.
Hield will be making his third appearance since returning from an injury that sidelined him for just over three weeks.
“Every day I’m getting better; I’m taking one step forward,” Hield said. “Thursday should be a fun opportunity to get after the ball a little bit.”
Hield’s continued involvement should help the Sooners defensively, as he is one of OU’s best perimeter defenders, leading the Sooners with 1.3 steals per game.
Oklahoma also should expect a big day from senior forward Romero Osby, who was recently named a member of the All-Big 12 first team, the first Sooner to earn that honor since Blake Griffin in 2009.
Osby has led the Sooners all year, averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game over the course of the season.
He will continue to lead them as they march towards a potential berth in the NCAA tournament.
“We have to go out there and take care of business Thursday,” Osby said. “We can guarantee ourselves a spot in the tournament if we win [the Big 12 tournament]. We win three games and we know that we’re in the tournament. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”