NORMAN — If there’s any doubt what impact forward Ryan Spangler has for Oklahoma, it was laid to rest early Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center. He was a nuisance No. 9 Iowa State simply couldn’t swat away in the Sooners’ 87-82 victory over the Cyclones.
How annoying was Spangler to the Cyclones Saturday? How often does a team shoot 52.3 percent on the road — and lose?
“We got our butts kicked on the glass,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The Sooners (13-3, 2-1 Big 12) only shot 40.6 percent Saturday afternoon. However, they were 13 for 30 from 3-point range. It helped a lot.
Being able to shoot until it made it also helped. That’s where Spangler came in. He grabbed a career high 15 rebounds to go along with 16 points. It was his sixth double-double of the season. Seven of those rebounds came on the offensive end. Those offensive boards were the difference.
“I thought in the second half Ryan just really took over the game and did some great things offensively, rebounded the ball like crazy,” OU coach Lon Kruger said.
The win was a big one for the Sooners. The Cyclones (14-1, 2-1) were the Big 12’s last undefeated team. It’s still the middle of January, but the Sooners now have a big win to put on their NCAA tournament resume.
OU had a chance to get one last Wednesday against No. 18 Kansas. Spangler, however, picked up two early fouls and wasn’t much of a factor in the 90-83 loss. He was limited to 23 minutes. Fouls were not a problem Saturday against the Cyclones. Spangler was on the floor for 33 minutes.
“I just needed to be smart,” Spangler said. “You’re going to have games like that (against Kansas) where you get into foul trouble,” he said, “but I just needed to keep my head up better than I did in the last game. Every game is a new game and you just have to come out with the same approach.”
Spangler’s approach was to grab every ball he could possibly get his hands on. He typically plays that way every night. He had plenty of chances for offensive rebounds because the Sooners were off target most of the day.
Buddy Hield scored a team-high 22 points and was 6 of 12 from 3-point range. At one point in the first half, the sophomore guard was 1 for 4 from the field and was taken to the locker room with an ankle injury. He returned with a little less than 10 minutes left in the first half and was 7 for 14 the rest of the day.
Isaiah Cousins added 17 points for the Sooners and Cameron Clark finished with 12.
The Sooners led most of the game, but never really could put Iowa State away. DeAndre Kane scored a game-high 23 points and Melvin Ejim added 21.
Ejim’s last basket came on a 3-pointer with 2:39 left to give the Cyclones’ a 77-76 lead.
OU turned to Spangler and a much-needed defensive stop to get the lead and the game back.
The Sooners isolated Spangler on Iowa State forward Georges Niang, who was playing with four fouls, on the low post. Spangler caught the ball and spun to his left for an easy basket and turned it into a three-point play after a foul by Dustin Hogue.
The defensive stop came on Iowa State’s ensuing possession when it had to settle for an air ball 3-point attempt from Ejim.
“I thought that was a possession with Ryan’s finish and free throw,” Kruger said. “It put us back up two and we had a couple pretty good defensive stops at that point.”
It also had Spangler chasing down rebounds from the opening tip until the final horn. OU had a 22 to 2 edge in second-chance points. Spangler’s seven offensive rebounds accounted for most of the edge.
“He’s great. He’s a great rebounder. He does a great job wedging and using his body in there,” Hoiberg said of Spangler. “He doesn’t have great explosiveness, but he was the difference today because of his ability to get them second-chance opportunities.”
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