OU men's basketball: Sooners surge past Cyclones for second-straight victory

Nicholas Rutledge / For The Transcript

Oklahoma forward Kristian Doolittle dribbles the ball as his teammates rotate on the floor against Iowa State at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman on Wednesday.

NORMAN — A long rebound landed perfectly in Austin Reaves’ possession.

A little over nine minutes remained in the second half, and the Sooners’ 6-foot-5 guard lulled Iowa State’s defense as he crossed the halfcourt line in transition with OU ahead 68-53.

Just as three Iowa State players swarmed Reaves at the top of the key, the Newark, Arkansas native turned to the man who trailed him up the floor and quickly passed to the unguarded Victor Iwuakor.

Iwuakor cashed in the assist with a ferocious slam.

“He ran the floor like a big man is supposed to do,” Reaves said. “You have to reward them when they do that.”

The dunk capped an 8-0 OU run, which put it safely ahead on Wednesday en route to a 90-61 victory.

The dominant performance gave OU (16-8, 6-5 in Big 12) its first set of back-to-back wins since beating Kansas State (Jan. 4) and Texas (Jan. 8) to open its conference schedule.

The Sooners’ newfound momentum comes just before a crucial road game against No. 3 Kansas Saturday, which didn’t seem to weigh much on the Sooners’ minds.

OU also avoided a deflating loss against a struggling Iowa State coming off its Saturday win over No. 13 West Virginia.

“We knew coming into this game that we couldn't have a letdown,” OU senior Kristian Doolittle said. “We could be looking ahead to the Kansas game and slip up and lose here.”

The Sooners kept their composure for 40 minutes; although to the credit of the Cyclones (10-14, 3-8), OU’s visitors held strong for the first half.

Iowa State came within one point of the Sooners before Reaves hit a buzzer-beating three to end the first half. The Cyclones then lagged too often in the final 20 minutes in their first game without star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Sooners’ win comes a little over a month since falling by 13 points to Iowa State on the road.

“We had some revenge that we had to give back to them,” Doolittle said.

Doolittle and junior Brady Manek — OU’s usual sparks on offense — looked locked in from the start against the Cyclones.

The Edmond native, Doolittle, posted 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting, scoring 15 of his team-best scoring total in the first half. Meanwhile, Manek gave OU 18 points, including a 4-of-5 mark from the 3-point line, in the lopsided Big 12 clash.

The Sooners netted 11 triples as a team, which Iowa State coach Steve Prohm attributed to OU’s unique rotation that utilizes Doolittle and Manek’s ability to stretch the floor.

“We gave up so many easy threes,” Prohm said. “They put you in a tough spot because they’re playing five guards almost.”

Prohm said the Sooners’ even distribution of wealth also doomed the Cyclones.

The Sooners got 12 points from sophomore guard Jamal Bieniemy, who made 5-of-10 shots from the floor.

Bieniemy ignited the Sooners with a game-opening 3-pointer and hit another 3-point shot just before Iwuakor's dunk in the second half.

Sooner junior Alondes Williams scored double figures, recording 14 points. His offensive production came exclusively in the second half after missing his two field-goal attempts in the first half.

Reaves and Harmon round out OU’s double-digit scorers with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

“A lot of individuals playing well,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “A lot of good ball movement. A lot of good things going on right now.

“So we've got to keep getting better to have a chance to go into Lawrence and play our best and that's always a challenge of course, but I know the guys will look forward to it.”

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