By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
OU jumped out early and cruised to an easy 86-69 win over Iowa State on Saturday. Here’s some rapid reaction:
The Sooners came out like they usually do at home: crisp on offense and active on defense. They had a double-digit lead less than six minutes into the game and, despite some quick shooting spurts by Iowa State’s quick trigger attack, held a comfortable 12-point lead at halftime. Well, comfortable if you didn’t watch Wednesday night’s meltdown in Austin.
It was over when…
…Lon Kruger’s club proved to those in attendance that a lesson had been learned. OU kept the pedal down throughout the final 20 minutes, answering every mini-Cyclone run with a bigger one of its own. That included an impressive 12-1 spurt late in the second half that included 10 points at the free throw line, a place the Sooners thrived on Saturday, going an incredible 34/34 as a team. How incredible?
Star of the game – OU’s seniors
Before the game, Sam Grooms, Romero Osby, Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger were honored for their career contributions in Norman. During it, the senior group may have had one of its best collective games during that tenure. The foursome combined for 65 points on 18/36 shooting and 24/24 at the line. Osby was his typically steady self, leading the way with 22 points and nine rebounds. A special Senior Day for all of them.
What it means
Huge win for the Sooners. Their tourney resumé was briefly thrown into question after Wednesday’s collapse. But this win, a nice one over another potential tourney foe, should essentially lock up a berth. Iowa State, on the other hand, has now lost two straight and could be considered a fringe bubble team. The Cyclones’ two remaining regular season games, against Oklahoma State and at West Virginia, have become huge.
Stats of note
-Sam Grooms has scored in double-digits four out of the past five games. He didn’t do that once in the first 23.
-OU is 7-1 in Big 12 home games this year.
-The Sooners hit double-digit conference wins for the first time since Blake Griffin’s 2009 club had 13.
OU’s final week includes a pair of should-win games. Slumping West Virginia, losers of four straight, heads to Norman on Wednesday, before the Sooners head to Fort Worth for a battle against 1-14 TCU in the regular season finale next Saturday.