Losses in four of the past five games have rocked No. 23 Iowa State, however the Cyclones still feel in control of their season as they prepare to host struggling Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon in Ames, Iowa.
“It’s just trying to stay focused on the things that have helped us get successful this year,” Iowa State center Osun Osunniyi said. “That’s attacking the paint and playing for each other. We have the capability of doing that, and this week we’re going to focus on that, playing for each other and continue to go back to the things that got us to this point.”
Iowa State (17-10, 8-7 Big 12) fell into an early hole on Tuesday at No. 8 Texas. The Cyclones played the Longhorns even after halftime, but it wasn’t enough in a 72-54 defeat.
Osunniyi scored a team-high 12 points and Gabe Kalscheur followed with 10. The Cyclones committed 16 turnovers while shooting just 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) from 3-point range in their most lopsided league loss this season.
Caleb Grill has missed the past two games with a back injury after playing just 12 minutes of a Feb. 15 win against TCU.
“This league is really hard,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We all know that. It’s the best league in the country, and if you’re going to go on the road, you’re going to have to shoot the ball extremely well. Certainly, Caleb is a factor for us that way and not having him is a factor. Beating anybody in this league on the road is really hard.”
Losers of two straight and six of seven, the Sooners (13-15, 3-12) have been more competitive of late following a lopsided skid that helped reinforce the ruggedness of the Big 12.
After thumping then-No. 2 Alabama by 24 points on Jan. 28, Oklahoma lost four straight league games by a combined 75 points. A home win against a ranked Kansas State team followed before an overtime loss at ranked Texas. The Sooners are coming off Tuesday’s 74-63 home loss to streaking Texas Tech.
Led by Tanner Groves (16 points) and Jalen Hill (14), Oklahoma boasted a quartet of double-figure scorers. Still, inconsistent shooting proved too great a hurdle.
While the Red Raiders finished at 61.7 percent from the floor, the Sooners shot 35.6 percent, including 9-for-33 from long range.
“We knew we were going to have to knock down some shots,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said. “I thought for the most part we had some really good looks. We might have taken one (3-pointer) early in the first half in transition where I wanted to attack, but we can make those. For the most part, they were giving us some open 3s and we just didn’t knock them down.”
Iowa State edged the host Sooners 63-60 on Jan. 4.
Bijan Cortes had 10 points for Oklahoma in that game but will miss Saturday’s contest and perhaps more games in the future. He announced on Twitter before Tuesday’s game that he’s taking time away from the program for personal reasons.
–Field Level Media