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Oklahoma Bounces Back, Knocks Off Iowa State
March 02, 2013
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

NORMAN, Okla. - One team found a hangover cure. The other team didn't.

Oklahoma and Iowa State came into Saturday's Big 12 Conference game carrying the baggage of losses in their previous games. The Sooners lost in overtime at Texas Wednesday, letting a 22-point lead with less than eight minutes evaporate. The Cyclones also lost in overtime, at home to Kansas.

In the first few pages of every coaching manual is the phrase "Don't let one game beat you twice." Translation: If you lose a tough game, that loss can't be a reason why you lose the next game.

The Sooners flushed the ugly loss in record-setting fashion. Oklahoma (19-9, 10-6) took control from the beginning and rolled to an 86-69 victory over Iowa State. OU made all 34 of its free throw attempts, setting a Big 12 record for consecutive makes and single-game percentage and also tied an NCAA single-game record for accuracy.

"It was a frustrating trip," said Oklahoma's Romero Osby, who had 22 points and nine rebounds. "We knew we had missed a great opportunity at Texas. We knew we had to bounce back. We didn't have to wait a week to play and we had the motivation that we were playing a good team."

The Cyclones (19-10, 9-7) defeated Oklahoma, 83-64, in Ames on Feb. 4. Coach Fred Hoiberg said it was his team's most complete game of the season. About a month later, Iowa State did a 180.

"We didn't play good at all," said Chris Babb, who went scoreless in 21 minutes. "We played selfish. We didn't play defense. Our game plan didn't work. That's what you saw."

Oklahoma was motivated to recover from the loss in Austin and also had the emotion of Senior Day. In addition to Osby, Sam Grooms, Andrew Fitzgerald, Steven Pledger and reserve Casey Arent were honored before the game. The four seniors who played combined for 65 points.

Grooms watched a tape of the Texas game "three or four" times and kept hoping he could hit reset - but it was real, not PlayStation.

"I was livid," he said. "Livid. I kept hoping it wasn't real. Ro(mero) is our vocal leader. He got us together on the plane back from Austin and said we had to forget about it. The only way to make people forget a loss is to give them a win to remember."

Grooms scored 13 and had four assists in the first half. He benefitted from open shots at the top of the key when Iowa State doubled to help defend the Sooners' post players. In the Sooners' first 23, Grooms scored 54; in his last five he's scored 65.

For Iowa State, anyone not named Tyrus McGee was 5-of-22 from 3-point range. McGee, a senior from nearby Stringtown, Okla., made 6-of-9 (most from 25 feet or more) and finished with 27. The Cyclones attempted just 20 shots inside the 3-point arc and went a middling 14-of-22 from the free throw line.

That gave the Sooners a 20-point edge from the line. They were 30-for-30 in the second half with only 16 points coming from field goals.

"Free throws can be contagious," said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who has been and still is a dead-eye shooter from the line. "When your teammates start making 'em, then everbydoy seems to step up and make 'em."

Oklahoma's final free throws came with 1:07 remaining. Amath M'Baye swished both of his attempts to make it a perfect game from the line. In Big 12 play, Missouri had the record with 23 consecutive makes (set in 1997 against Kansas State). Baylor and Oklahoma State each went 22-of-23 on free throws (95.7 percent) for the Conference single-game record at the Sooners surpassed.

"You want to make 'em all, but I didn't realize that we hadn't missed," Osby said.

The eternal question with no answer: Did the gut-punch loss to Kansas - the fourth game the Cyclones have lost in the final seconds - impact the performance at Oklahoma?

"I put this on me," Hoiberg said. "For whatever reason I didn't have them ready to play. "It looked like we felt sorry for ourselves. You have to put it behind you. There has been a lot written and talked about the finish of KU game but you've got to move on. We had two great days of practice and I thought we'd come out ready to go."

The 17-point loss was Iowa State's biggest this season. The Cyclones are at home against Oklahoma State Wednesday and close the regular season at West Virginia on March 9.

"It's really the first time all year we that we got it taken to us," Hoiberg said. "We got our butts kicked. It's a terrible feeling, especially with the magnitude of this game."

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