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March 15, 2013

Cyclones eliminate Sooners from Big 12 tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma’s trip to the Big 12 tournament was like everything else it has gone through in the last three weeks — fleeting.

The fourth-seeded Sooners lost to fifth-seeded Iowa State, 76-66, Thursday afternoon at Sprint Center and will now spend three anxious days hoping their NCAA Tournament résumé was good enough through the first 29 games.

OU, which dropped to 20-11 after Thursday’s loss, added a second straight head-scratching performance for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to ponder. It’s still dealing with the fallout from jaw-dropping losses to TCU in the regular-season finale last Saturday and Feb. 27 at Texas.

Losing to the Cyclones (22-11) in what was widely considered a toss-up game was no vice. Losing despite holding a 12-point lead with less than eight minutes to play was the foible.

“Our moments are pretty glaring when you consider Texas and then at TCU and today in the conference tournament,” OU coach Lon Kruger said, referring to the stunning losses to Texas and TCU and Iowa State. “Liked to have been able to play better than we did in the last seven minutes.”

The last seven minutes amplify doubts about the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament chances.

Prior to then, it was a game OU completely controlled. Romero Osby scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds while Cameron Clark added 17 off the bench. When those two were the focal points, the Sooners rolled.

However, that changed in the last seven minutes.

Clark hit a pair of free throws with 7:42 left to put the Sooners up 60-48. Kruger thought that would be a good time to get Osby a quick breather.

Whether lifting Osby for a 21⁄2-minute rest cost the Sooners a victory is debatable, but there’s no doubt OU cooled while Iowa State ignited.

“It coincided with taking Ro out,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “I think we were up, what, 7 maybe when we took Ro out, and a minute and a half later it’s an even ballgame.

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