NORMAN — Oklahoma senior guard Sam Grooms caught a pass and heaved a desperation 3-pointer.
It wasn't exactly what Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger had in mind, and Grooms' shot came up short as the buzzer sounded, giving Oklahoma a 52-50 loss to Kansas State.
Coming off a huge victory on the road against Baylor, the Sooners (14-6, 5-3 Big 12) were unable to protect their home court for the first time in a Big 12 Conference game this season, but they said it didn't feel like they took a step backward.
“We still are a work in progress and we're still trying to get better,” said OU senior forward Romero Osby. “We had a big game against Baylor and got the win but Kansas State's a really good team. They're a legitimate top 20 team coming in here. I thought we played well for stretches but I thought we just didn't make the plays down the stretch to get the win.”
It all started with just under a minute left when Grooms hit a 3-pointer off a steal from junior guard Cam Clark to bring the Sooners within two of the Wildcats at 50-48.
After an OU timeout, Wildcats junior guard Angel Rodriguez missed a jumper, and Osby grabbed the rebound. Grooms brought the crowd to its feet by making a layup with 13 seconds to tie the game at 50.
But the Wildcats (17-4, 6-2) answered. Rodriguez drove up the court, and Grooms couldn't keep up.
“I was expecting a ball screen,” Grooms said. “They'd been running ball screens all night and he had been going right and he went left. Got to credit them. He made the right read.”
That left junior Amath M'Baye to force the Wildcats to make the shots at the free-throw line. He fouled Rodriguez, a 77.8-percent free-throw shooter. Rodriguez made both shots to give Kansas State a two-point lead with five seconds left in the game.
In between Rodriguez's free-throw shots, Kruger called a timeout to draw up the final play.
M'Baye heaved the inbounds pass to Osby, who hesitated before finding Grooms near halfcourt.
Grooms sped toward the basket and shot the ball with one second remaining.
“We wanted to get it quickly to Sam and push it with maybe a little pick there,” Kruger said of the final play. “Didn't get things done quickly in the backcourt, but again Kansas State's trying to keep that from happening too. There were a lot of battles on the day and they won that one too.”
The Sooners struggled collectively from the floor, going 19 of 49. Osby, who had 13 points and seven rebounds, was the only Oklahoma player to score in double figures.
Will Spradling led the Wildcats with 12 points.
Grooms was 3 of 5 from the floor to finish with seven points for the Sooners. He played 12 minutes, all in the second half.
“Sam gave us a good spark,” Kruger said. “He had a little attack. We just didn't have much attack going. ... I thought he gave us a good lift when he went in the ballgame and made some nice plays.”