By Michael Kinney
Oklahoma came into the Big 12 Championship tournament slumping. In fact, slumping is almost too kind of a word to describe the four game losing streak the team carried with them to close out the regular season.
However, the Sooners supposedly had a bit of good luck on their side. They were going to face Iowa State in the opening round of the conference tourney. Oklahoma had not only swept them in the regular season, but the Cyclones had only two total wins this year.
The matchup was set up to be an easy get-right game for the Sooners.
Unfortunately for OU, nothing they have done lately can be called easy. After giving up a big second half lead, No. 25 Oklahoma held on for a 79-73 victory over ISU Wednesday night in Kansas City.
“It’s a big win,” De’Vion Harmon said. “Every team is good. We know the Big 12. It’s postseason time. It’s win or go home.”
At one point in the second half, the Sooners were up by as much as 19 points and on their way to a blowout victory. But the Cyclones (2-22) stormed back to get within 58-51.
That is when all-conference guard Austin Reaves took over. He scored 11 of his team high 21 points in the final minutes to secure the win for OU.
“Big time shots. Big time shots,” Harmon said of Reaves.
Harmon posted 18 points and Elijah Harkless added 12 in the win for the seventh seeded Sooners.
Rasir Bolton scored 18 points to lead the No. 10 seed Cyclones. Jalen Coleman-Lands added 14 and Javan Johnson had 10 for an ISU squad that has not won a game since Dec. 20.
Oklahoma (15-9) moved on to the Big 12 quarterfinals where they take on Kansas at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
OU and Kansas split the season series, with the Sooners winning the final matchup 75-68 on Jan. 23. However, since then KU has responded and won nine of their final 12 games. That includes three straight to close out the regular season.
The Jayhawks (19-8) will be without a couple of key players in David McCormack and Tristan Enaruna due to COVID-19 protocols.
“They have been playing great,” OU coach Lon Kruger said of Kansas. “Obviously, McCormick is a huge key for them and Enaruna is a good player as well. We’ve got to raise our level. We’ve got to play better and understand how tough that’s going to be.”
Michael Kinney Media
Photo provided by Denny Medley