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January 13, 2014

Spangler brings big boost to Sooners’ rebounding game

NORMAN — The intensity Oklahoma played with Saturday against Iowa State covered up some familiar deficiencies. Winning gets a lot of easier when you can shoot until you make it.

OU forward Ryan Spangler provided the Sooners with that opportunity. They fed off it all afternoon.

“He is one of those guys that hustles,” OU guard Buddy Hield said of Spangler. “It is something natural for him and he does a good job of finding the ball and getting the rebound.”

The Sooners needed the victory. There’s no doubt they drew the short straw when in came to the Big 12 Conference schedule — at least starting out. Hosting No. 18 Kansas and No. 9 Iowa State in back-to-back games is a tough initial home stand.

All losses are deflating, but dropping two straight at home would have been tough to overcome.

OU (13-3, 2-1 Big 12) doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s off to a

solid start in conference play. But it has two tough road games this week. The Sooners go to Kansas State Tuesday night and then go to Baylor Saturday afternoon.

Now, it’s hard to believe they can win either game if they continue to let opponents shoot over 50 percent. Iowa State did it Saturday, joining Texas and Kansas in that regard.

Kruger is frustrated with the defensive issues.

It’s hard to win when you’re not getting stops. It’s almost impossible to win away from home when that’s the case.

But his team showed an ability to seize the moment — even on the defensive end — Saturday.

After Iowa State had taken the lead with 2:39 to go, OU got four straight stops and scored four straight possessions.

“In the second half there we got two or three stops when we really needed them,” Kruger said. “We have been kind of trying to work and learn how to do that. We have got a long way to go defensively, but I’m happy for those two successful trips there.”

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