WACO, Texas — Early on in Oklahoma's game against Iowa State, a Cyclones player hit a shot on Sooner forward Ryan Spangler.
“He started mouthing,” Spangler said. “I just told myself in my head, I'm not going to let this guy outwork me.”
Even a game earlier, Spangler might've acted a bit differently.
But after never playing much of a factor in a loss against Kansas, the sophomore from Bridge Creek via Gonzaga has turned in a pair of monster games and he's going at it in a way that's endearing him to Oklahoma fans and frustrating opponents.
“He was mouthing through the whole game,” Spangler said of that Iowa State player. “There's been a lot of people tweeting me saying, ‘Get ready when you come to Iowa State' but that doesn't matter. I'm going to play my game so it doesn't matter.”
He needed that composure against Kansas State as well. Late in the first half, with Spangler pretty well controlling things inside on both ends, the Wildcats moved Nino Williams onto Spangler.
“He wasn't even trying to block me out,” Spangler said. “He was just trying to tackle me pretty much — face-blocking.
“He hit me a couple times when I wasn't ready for it. It hurts a little bit but it's worth it.”
Spangler came out of that game with his neck scratched up from a Wildcat's fingernail.
But he was able to keep his composure.
“That's the hardest is self-control, especially when I get a foul or two on me early,” Spangler said. “You can't just fly in there. Once you get your name out there by the refs, you get one or two fouls and they see you flying in there, you're going to get another.
“I've just got to be smart about it.”
Over the last two games, Spangler has combined for 37 points and 29 rebounds — 16 on the offensive end.
“Ryan has been just outstanding,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “His effort on the boards, getting more comfortable with offense, his activity — he's just been terrific. I know he'll keep working to keep it happening.”
The Sooners aren't likely to continue to get that kind of production out of Spangler every night, but he'll need to have another big game Saturday if Oklahoma is to have a chance to upset No. 12 Baylor in Waco, Texas. That game tips off at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
“He's like our motor now,” senior forward Cam Clark said. “He's just bringing the energy every day. We're going to need him a lot.”
The Bears have 7-foot-1 center Isaiah Austin and 6-foot-9 forward Cory Jefferson, who combine to average 23.5 points and 13.9 rebounds per game.
Spangler is the Sooners' biggest starter at 6-foot-8.
“Always,” Spangler said when asked if he was looking forward to facing off with Austin. “They might be able to use their length against me but I'm a pretty smart player. I'm not trying to let them get blocks on me and get out and go. I've just got to beat them with hustle. That's what I rely on every game.”