Before Oklahoma State even stepped on the court on Thursday night they saw what could happen if you ease up and go on a scoring drought, as Texas blew a 16-point lead against Iowa State, and the Cyclones hit a buzzer-beater from the corner to advance in the third quarterfinal of the Big 12 Championship.
Both team seemed very stagnant on offense early in this one, as in the first 3 minutes the Sooners put up 8 points, but struggled to put it in the basket after that. The Pokes began the game shooting 2 of 10, before a quick time out from Travis Ford seemed to get them in gear.
Freshman Mitchell Solomon in his first Big 12 Championship appearance came up huge for the Cowboys off of the bench, putting up 2 blocks and 4 rebounds, pushing the Sooners off the post and showing how great of a player he will be for the Pokes in the next couple seasons as their go-to guy. Almost half of the offense from Oklahoma State came from Senior LeBryan Nash, he shot 4-10 and drained 12 points, including sending the Cowboys on a seven to zero run to finish the half, giving Oklahoma State a 26-21 advantage going to the break.
As I had stated before, Oklahoma couldn't get anything going, largely due to the stifling defense in the post from Oklahoma State. Big 12 Player Of The Year Buddy Heild tried to go one on one too much it seemed, and as a team Oklahoma shot 7-30 in the first half. They may be one of the best teams in the country in transition, but in the first half they were held without a transition basket.
Oklahoma State jumped out to an eight point lead in the second half, and it seemed the Pokes were in control. Unfortunately though, Oklahoma was not going to be run off the court in Kansas City. OU started making shots, while the Cowboys were continuing to settle for difficult looks. A few turnovers later, OU retook the lead on a 12-0 run and went up 39-35 with 13 minutes remaining.
Similar to the meeting in Stillwater, OSU seemed to play really well in the first half and beginning of the second half, but once OU made adjustments and were able to run away with the game. OU went down by 9 points early in the second half, and then the Sooners put it together. OK State was then outscored 37-13, and had no answers for anything the Sooners were doing.
Final Score: Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 49
Some More Notes:
- Senior Le'Bryan Nash, in his final Big 12 Tournament game, put the team on his back, and recorded a double double. He finished with 27 points on the night, and snagging 12 boards.. Only one other Cowboy hit double figures. Jeff Newberry scored 10 points. Phil Forte, one of the scariest shooters in the NCAA when he is on, couldn't get it going tonight.
- On the other side of the ball, OU had 4 of their 5 starters hit double figures in scoring, Although Ryan Spangler only accumulated 4 points, he was a big factor, grabbing 15 rebounds, keeping the ball several times allowing Oklahoma a second and third opportunity to score. Buddy Heild persevered through a rough first half, and wound up finishing with 22, on 9-9 shooting from the free throw line.
- Once again, OSU finished with double digit turnovers, giving the ball up 11 times, while only forcing 6 from the Sooners.
- Oklahoma State lives and dies by the three, and tonight it happened to be the latter, as they shot a dismal 14% from behind the line.
- The Cowboys were able to get 9 blocks, but offensive rebounds and turnovers from the Pokes helped Oklahoma grab their first post season win under Lon Kruger.
- This was also Buddy Heild's first win in the postseason, he was previously 0-3 in the Big 12 tournament, and of course, OU was upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year as well.
Oklahoma will advance to play Iowa State in semi final of the Big 12 Championship at 9pm EST Friday, while Oklahoma State will wait to see where they are placed in the NCAA tournament. According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, OSU is an 11 seed in the field. It is very possible that with this loss the Pokes may have to travel to Dayton to play on Tuesday, but they will have to sit and wait until Sunday night, when the entire field is released.