Tag: Lon Kruger

Kansa State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) pulls down a rebound against Mississippi during an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP

Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State knock off No. 1 Oklahoma

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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and D.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

No. 1 Oklahoma denies LSU a much-needed signature win

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
AP Photo/Bill Feig
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With a front court rotation that consists largely of senior Ryan Spangler and sophomore Khadeem Lattin, No. 1 Oklahoma doesn’t have the elite post players that many recent national champions have called upon. However they’ve got the nation’s best player in Buddy Hield leading a deep perimeter rotation, and that’s what makes Lon Kruger’s team a serious threat to not only reach the Final Four but win two more games once there.

Saturday evening the Sooners shook off some cold (by their standards) shooting to beat LSU 77-75 in Baton Rouge. Not only did the Tigers enter the game with freshman phenom Ben Simmons and some other talents capable of hurting the opposition, but they were in a position where this was a critical game for their NCAA tournament hopes. LSU didn’t accomplish a whole lot in non-conference play, and Saturday represented the opportunity that could have made up for all of that.

Instead, it was Isaiah Cousins who took advantage, as his shot with 3.8 seconds remaining gave Oklahoma the victory.

Hield, who scored 32 points and grabbed seven rebounds in another outstanding performance, has received most of the attention when it comes to Oklahoma and rightfully so. He’s put in the work throughout his career in Norman, and shooting better than 50 percent both from the field and from three the senior from the Bahamas has turned into a player who’s damn near impossible to limit for a full 40 minutes.

But he doesn’t lack for help offensively either. Cousins added 18 points, shooting 8-for-12 from the field, and Spangler held his own in the post to the tune of 16 points and ten rebounds. The Sooners can attack teams from multiple areas, and in the game’s decisive sequence it was Cousins who was entrusted with making a play. And at different points this season if it wasn’t Cousins or Hield, Jordan Woodard proved himself capable of stepping forward as well.

Oklahoma’s ability to take advantage of LSU mistakes, be it turnovers or second-chance scoring opportunities, helped the visitors get back into the game in the second half. Oklahoma scored 18 of its 41 second-half points off of LSU turnovers or offensive rebounds, and that combined with Hield getting hot set the stage for the climactic finish.

The Tigers have some positives to take from this game, most notably the play of Tim Quarterman as he led four player in double figures with 18 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists (two of which were on key Antonio Blakeney three-pointers). But ultimately this game will be about missed opportunities, be it their inability to get a stop down the stretch or the many questions as to why Ben Simmons (14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five turnovers) didn’t have the ball in his hands more down the stretch.

LSU has the potential to be a dangerous team should they get into the NCAA tournament. But “potential” isn’t about a finished product. Oklahoma’s farther along in that regard, which enabled them to make the plays that needed to be made regardless of who had the ball in his hands.

No. 2 Oklahoma holds off Oklahoma State 74-72

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Buddy Hield scored 26 points to help No. 2 Oklahoma hold off a spirited Oklahoma State squad 74-72 on Wednesday night.

Hield made 10 of 17 shots for the Sooners (14-1, 3-1 Big 12), but he committed 10 turnovers, including a crucial one that gave Oklahoma State a chance to win. Jeffrey Carroll missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer for the Cowboys as time expired.

Jawun Evans scored 42 points, an Oklahoma State (9-7, 1-3) record for a freshman and the third-most points in school history.

The final minute was a whirlwind. Evans made a layup to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 74-71, then Jeff Newberry stole the ball from Hield.

Hield fouled Evans with 3 seconds left. Evans made the first free throw and missed the second, and Oklahoma State got possession with 0.8 seconds left to set up Carroll’s miss.

Evans made 18 of 31 shots and doubled his season high point total for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma is in position to move up to No. 1 after top-ranked Kansas lost at West Virginia on Tuesday night. The Sooners host No. 11 West Virginia on Saturday.

The Sooners made 9 of 16 3-pointers to lead 43-31 at halftime. Hield scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Evans scored 19 points in the first half.

A powerful baseline jam by Carroll cut Oklahoma’s lead to 10 early in the second half and brought the crowd back into the game. A dunk by Newberry cut it to eight, and a layup by Evans made it a six-point game and forced Oklahoma to call timeout. The Cowboys trimmed it to four before Oklahoma regained its footing. A 7-0 run, highlighted by a banked 3-pointer by Ryan Spangler, put the Sooners up by 11.

Oklahoma State made another run to make it a game in the final minute.

TIP-INS:

Oklahoma: Woodard made 3 of 4 3-pointers in the first half. … Hield went 10 for 10 from the field against Oklahoma State in Norman last season. … Jordan Woodard scored 17 points and Isaiah Cousins added 12 for the Sooners.

Oklahoma State: Cowboys still are without Phil Forte, who has missed most of the season with an elbow injury. The team captain was fourth in the Big 12 with 15 points per game last season. … Evans made 8 of 13 shots in the first half. The rest of his team made 5 of 17. … Oklahoma State went 4 for 9 from the free-throw line in the second half.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: Hosts West Virginia on Saturday.

Oklahoma State: At Texas on Saturday.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.