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So Close: Sooners Fall To Iowa State In Another Thriller

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri -

There's the hurt from a blowout loss. There's the hurt from a close loss where the other team makes the play at the end. Then there's the hurt from close loss where you failed to make the play at the end.

That's the kind of loss Oklahoma experienced Friday night, as Ryan Spangler's game-tying layup bounced off the rim to give Iowa State a thrilling 67-65 win in the Big 12 semifinals in Kansas City.

After the normally reliable Georges Niang went 1-of-2 from the free throw line for Iowa State with 10 seconds left to give OU a chance to tie or win, Jordan Woodard hustled up the court and found himself surrounded on the baseline. After waiting for the traffic to clear, Woodard found a wide open Spangler under the hoop. Overtime appeared imminent, but Spangler lost his grip on the ball on the way up and wasn't able to get a clean shot off. The ball caromed off several hands before the buzzer sounded.

As with any win or loss, the result didn't come about because of one specific play. The magnitude of Spangler's miss obviously makes it seem like it was the sole reason the Sooners lost. But Oklahoma didn't have its best showing again on Friday, shooting 40.7 percent from the field and went without baskets for too many long stretches against a dangerous Cyclones team.

Even though the Sooners didn't play their best, the third meeting between these two teams was still thrilling and had the very pro-Iowa State crowd at the Sprint Center on the edge of their seats for the entire 40 minutes.

Four Sooners scored in double figures, led by double-doubles from Buddy Hield and TaShawn Thomas. Thomas had 13 points and 10 boards, while Hield finished with 16 and 10. The Sooners dominated the glass against ISU, winning the battle 43-27 and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. Oklahoma had plenty of great chances, but the shots just didn't fall when they needed to.

Hield in particular struggled from the field, going just 6-of-20 from the floor and 2-of-13 from 3-point range. It was the fourth game in a row and sixth in the last seven games where he didn't shoot 40 percent from the field. The Sooners need Hield playing well to win in the NCAA tournament and more performances like that will send OU home early.

Isaiah Cousins had 14 points and Woodard finished with 13 points for the Sooners.

Niang led four ISU players in double figures with 13 points. Jameel McKay had 12 points and nine rebounds and two huge blocks in the final three minutes that kept the Sooners off the board with Iowa State nursing a 62-61 lead.

Monte Morris had 11 and Bryce Dejean-Jones had 10 off the bench.

Oklahoma came out firing, as three Cousins 3-pointers put the Sooners up 17-6 nine minutes into the game. The problems began for OU when the Sooners weren't able to sustain the initial pace. Oklahoma was able to hold on to the lead nearly through the whole first half, but a 10-0 ISU run gave the Cyclones a 29-27 lead before Hield tied the score at halftime with free throws.

Shots began to fall more frequently for Iowa State in the second half, and the Cyclones went up by as many as eight points in the first eight minutes. Oklahoma didn't fall behind due to a lack of effort. In fact, it was the Sooners who were working harder for every rebound and loose ball, but if the ball isn't going in the basket—and it wasn't for OU—the results aren't going to showcase that effort.

The Sooners finally began to see the ball fall through the net, and went on a 16-4 run over a six minutes stretch to turn a 50-42 deficit into a 58-54 lead with 5:46 to play. As had been the case in the first two meetings between these two teams, this game was defined by runs, and ISU ripped off another 8-0 run to retake the lead for good at 62-58 with 4:34 remaining.

Oklahoma will be left to think about what could have been on Friday night; about what would have happened if the Sooners had gotten to overtime. But the Sooners can't dwell on Friday night with more—and more meaningful—basketball in front of them.

While Oklahoma won't be dwelling on Friday's loss, that doesn't mean the hurt will go away easily. Not in the slightest.

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