Despite playing in an arena filled primarily with Iowa State fans, the three-seeded Sooners pulled out a 79-76 victory over the Cyclones to advance to the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament.
Buddy Hield scored 39 points in the OU win, which sends Iowa State home from the tournament a bit earlier than usual, seeing the Cyclones left Kansas City as Big 12 champs each of the last two seasons.
After Hield’s tremendous performance, it was only fitting that he put the icing on the cake. With only25 seconds left and OU holding a narrow six-point lead, Hield grabbed the long rebound after a Matt Thomas’ miss and immediately ran with the ball in transition, where he flushed home a dunk that put the Sooners up 79-71 and Cyclones out of reach for good.
While the dunk was a significant moment in the game, it wasn’t the most jaw-dropping thing the senior did in the win.
In a first half filled with back-and-forth action, Hield really began to thrive. With the score tied at 22-22, Hield showed he’s willing to do it all for his team but drawing an offensive foul against ISU’s Georges Niang, which sent the Cylones’ star to the bench with his second foul, while Hield proceeded to steal the show by scoring 11 straight OU points.
Hield’s scoring-catapulted the Sooners on an 8-to-3 scoring run to close the half, which was capitalized by two monster blocks by Khadeem Lattin. ISU tried to squeeze in another bucket before the clock ran out in the first half, but Lattin sent Hallice Cooke’s shot attempt away, and then did the same thing to Thomas’ jumper before flexing his muscles in front of the OU bench while the halftime buzzer rang as loud as his roar.
OU led by six at intermission, but built that lead up to double digits just two minutes into the second half.
Hield wasn’t done putting on a show, as the Big 12 Player of the Year caught an alley-oop pass from Isaiah Cousins and dunked over a Cyclones’ defender while getting fouled. Oklahoma led by 13 after Hield made his free throw, and the Sooners were able to hold off the Cyclones’ attack the rest of the way.
Niang scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half for ISU, and three other Cyclones’ players reached double digits in the loss.
Ryan Spangler notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Cousins also scored 10 points for the Sooners.This was a revenge game for OU after Iowa State sent the Sooners home packing from last year's conference tournament.
Oklahoma will play West Virginia on Friday night at 8 p.m. in the semifinals.