The Norman Transcript

March 14, 2013

Sooners can’t rest on their laurels

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  The bracket for the NCAA Tournament will be released Sunday. Oklahoma seems to be in solid position to earn an at-large bid. It’s 20-10 overall record, 11-7 finish in the Big 12 Conference and entering the Big 12 tournament at No. 33 in the Ratings Percentage Index all bode extremely well.

Nonetheless, Sooner coach Lon Kruger doesn’t want his team thinking it has a complete resume as it prepares to face Iowa State at 11:30 a.m. today at Sprint Center.

“The only healthy way (to look at is) is you’ve got to win one more,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “It doesn’t matter if we happen to get by Thursday, we’ll feel like we need to win one more on Friday. That’s the only way to approach it. We’ve approached it that way for the last month. Most teams around the country do that. I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘OK, now we can lose.’”

The thing that bodes well for OU is that it’s highly unlikely to acquire a “bad loss” in the Big 12 tournament. Iowa State moved up to No. 47 in the RPI this week. The teams ahead of the Sooners in the conference seeding — Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State — are all in the RPI’s top 23.

Cyclones slumping in Kansas City: History could be on the Sooners’ side today. Iowa State has not won a Big 12 tournament game since a 77-57 victory over Baylor in 2005. It needs to beat the Sooners today to snap a seven-game tournament losing streak.

The Cyclones are also 0-4 in games played at Sprint Center, falling to Texas A&M (60-47) in 2008, Texas (82-75) in 2010, Colorado (77-75) in 2011 and Texas (71-65) last season.

More from Hield: Freshman guard Buddy Hield showed in the TCU game last Saturday that he’s fully healed from the broken foot that caused him to miss five of OU’s last seven regular-season games. Hield had eight offensive rebounds against the Horned Frogs and played 25 minutes.

“Buddy clearly has the emotional and physical part of the injury behind him. He’s full speed, ready to go,” Kruger said. “He hasn’t shot the ball with the rhythm that he did prior to the injury. He missed three weeks of shooting. It’s going to take him a little time to come back. But from a physical standpoint and an emotional standpoint, I think he feels great.”

Hield said any doubts he was physically recovered ended when he had a put-back dunk against the Horned Frogs in the first half.

“That play took a lot of stress off my head,” he said. “That play changed the whole game for me, as far as going to the boards more. I’m ready to go get boards now. I’m able to jump and dunk over somebody. That’s what I’m going to do.”

3-point/free-throw divide: Iowa State made 22 3-pointers (11 in both games) against the Sooners this season. The Sooners made 9 with six of those coming in the 86-69 win over Iowa State March 2 at Lloyd Noble Center.

The reason why OU got away with it in the victory was the 34-for-34 performance from the free-throw line. OU outscored the Cyclones by 20 points in the game.

In the Sooners’ 83-64 loss to Cyclones Feb. 2 in Ames, Iowa, OU went just 9 for 17 from the free-throw line. Iowa Sate hit 16 of 18 from the charity stripe.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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