The scoreboard at Lloyd Noble Center showed 7:47 remaining in the game and Oklahoma leading Iowa State 70-53. Despite the large cushion, pretty much everyone's mind was on Wednesday night, when the Sooners held a 22-point lead against Texas with 7:54 remaining. OU eventually lost the game in overtime, so it wasn't without reason OU fans were squirming in their seats.
However, the Oklahoma players remembered Wednesday night as well, and they weren't about to repeat history.
Instead of caving to Iowa State pressure, the Sooners took the opportunity to extend their lead and eventually cruised to an 86-69 romp over the Cyclones.
With the win, Oklahoma moved clear of the NCAA tournament bubble, likely securing its first at-large berth in the tournament since 2009. The Sooners still have games against West Virginia and TCU, along with the Big 12 tournament in two weeks, where they will likely face Iowa State again in the No. 4/5 matchup in the first round.
The Sooners tied an NCAA record for free throws made without a miss by hitting all 34 attempts they had during the game. Oklahoma scored 30 of its 46 points in the second half from the free throw line, consistently holding on to a big lead despite shooting just 33 percent in the second 20 minutes.
While Iowa State desperately tried to shoot its way back into the game from the 3-point line, the Sooners simply pounded the ball inside to Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald for frequent trips to the charity stripe.
Osby led the Sooners with 22 points and nine rebounds. Sam Grooms shook off his poor performance against the Longhorns to continue his impressive streak of quality games with 19 points and six assists. Steven Pledger added 14 points and Amath M'Baye chipped in 11 points.
Tyrus McGee led the Cyclones with 22 points, hitting 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Bubu Palo chipped in 12 points.
Iowa State, known for their 3-point shooting, hit 11-of-31 from deep, but five of those came from McGee in the final 10 minutes after the Sooners had already established a 21-point lead. The Sooners' defense on the Iowa State shooters was much better than it was last month in Ames, when Iowa State hit eight 3-pointers in the first half alone en route to crushing the Sooners.
This time around, it was Oklahoma dictating the pace, consistently using its size advantage in the paint to get to the free throw line for easy points.
The Sooners led the entire game, using a 10-0 run early in the first half to grab a 12-2 lead on an M'Baye 3-pointer with 14:47 remaining in the first half. Oklahoma maintained that lead throughout the half, never allowing the Cyclones to draw closer than four points. With the half winding down and the shot clock at one second, Grooms buried a deep 3-pointer to give OU a 40-28 halftime lead.
After Iowa State started the second half with a 3-pointer, OU reeled off 11 straight points to open up a 20-point lead and prompt ISU coach Fred Hoiberg to call for time. Iowa State chipped the lead down to 15 and it was still at 15 when McGee buried a 3 with 8:39 remaining in the contest.
Over the next five minutes, the Sooners went on a 12-1 run—10 of those points coming from the free throw line—to open up an 80-54 lead with 3:40 to play, allowing fans to finally breathe easy.