Just a few weeks ago, Oklahoma senior forward Cam Clark was the leading scorer in the Big 12 and gaining acclaim nationally for his improvement over last season.
After scoring 32 points against Kansas in a 90-83 loss Jan. 8, it wasn't a stretch at all to say Clark was the best player on the floor on either side.
In a game that featured Kansas' great freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden Jr., Clark was the best.
In that game, Clark tied his career high, which he'd previously accomplished Nov. 23 against then-No. 1 Michigan State, with 32 points.
Less than a month later, though, Clark is still struggling to regain the form that put him solidly in the discussion as one of the most improved players in the country.
Saturday, at No. 16 Iowa State, Clark had yet another tough day from the floor.
For the second consecutive game, Clark scored seven points and was 3 of 7 from the field.
After the 81-75 loss, OU coach Lon Kruger said Clark needed to continue to be a key part of the Sooners' offense.
“We need Cam to do what he can do,” Kruger said. “He hasn't done it as consistently in Big 12 play, but no one wants to more than Cam.”
In the Sooners' first 15 games, ending with his 10-of-18 shooting performance against Kansas, Clark averaged 18.7 points per game to lead the Big 12. He was shooting nearly 50 percent and taking an average of 13.2 shots per game.
Since then, all of those numbers have decreased.
Clark is averaging 10.6 points per game and shooting more than 10 percent worse from the field. He's also taking more than three fewer shots.
“He's just got to keep working,” Kruger said. “There's not any shortcuts or ways to get around that. He's just to keep attacking.”
Clark is getting to the free-throw line at less than half the rate he was before his recent slump (5.7 to 2.1 per game).
But Clark's struggles haven't hurt the Sooners in the win column.
Oklahoma is 5-2 in its last seven games, with wins over three top-12 teams and losses only at Kansas State and Iowa State.
While Clark's production has slowed, Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler's scoring load has increased.
And Spangler's gritty attitude is spreading to his teammates.
“As a group, they're just benefiting so much from what Ryan is doing,” Kruger said before the game at Iowa State. “I think we're getting tougher. We've still got to be more physical — we've still got to get tougher — but we've grown a lot because of what Ryan's doing on the boards and in every other way.
“He's just kind of raising everyone's bar a little bit, and guys are responding well to that.”