AMES, Iowa — Oklahoma’s four-game winning streak is history. Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim took care of that.
But the Sooners’ Buddy Hield might just be getting warmed up, and that should bode well for coach Lon Kruger’s team over the second half of the Big season.
No. 16 Iowa State hit key shots and free throws in the final 2 minutes to turn back the No. 23 Sooners 81-75 Saturday despite Hield’s career-high 30 points and a 46-33 rebounding advantage.
“It was a tough battle,” Kruger said. “Iowa State played great and deserved to win. We’ve got to learn from it and bounce back for another tough game in three or four days. That’s the nature of play in the conference this year.”
That would be a game at West Virginia on Wednesday. But the Sooners (17-5, 6-3 Big 12) have shown they can compete with anyone in the league, though Saturday they couldn’t get a handle on Niang or Ejim.
Niang scored a career-best 27 points, including a backbreaking 3-pointer in the final minute that helped the Cyclones (16-4, 4-4) win for just the second time in six games. Ejim added 22 points and matched his career high with 16 rebounds, his sixth double-double this season and 28th of his career.
Hield did his best to offset the Iowa State duo.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore scored 18 points in the first half and finished 10-for-18 from the field with five 3-pointers. He scored 22 in the first game with Iowa State, an 87-82 Sooner victory three weeks ago, and is averaging 18.7 points in conference games.
“My teammates and my coaches give me confidence to shoot the ball every time,” Hield said. “My teammates are finding good spots that I’m comfortable at. Then me being a basketball player, staying in the gym and trying to help my teammates in the basketball game.”