Hot Iowa State Comes to Norman Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 03, 2012

By Andrew Gilman |
NORMAN, Okla. -- The way Sam Grooms sees things, if the Sooners can win Saturday against Iowa State, everything is going to be just fine.

He may have a point.

After all, it would mean a victory over one of the hottest teams in the conference. The Cyclones have won four of their past five games, including victories over then-No. 5 Kansas and Kansas State. It also would mean some much-needed momentum heading into Monday's game against Missouri.

Oklahoma vs. Iowa State | Saturday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m.
Live Coverage | Gameday Central

But more importantly, what Grooms meant, was a win at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center against the Cyclones shows the Sooners can be legit in the Big 12.

The Sooners are 13-8 overall, 3-6 in the Big 12, but 2-2 at home. Iowa State is 16-6 and 6-3.

"You win games like that, it adds to the confidence level," Grooms said. "If we get this one, we'll be alright."

Likely, Grooms will be the one who needs to make sure his mind is right Saturday. He said he's taking on the responsibility of winning.

He's third in the Big 12 by averaging 5.6 assists per game and he's best in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio. In the past five games, Grooms has 31 assists and just five turnovers (6.2 ratio).

"I take responsibility for everything that happens," Grooms said. "When guys are happy or upset, I take that burden. Whatever it takes to win, I'll do it."

The only thing Grooms won't be responsible for is matching up with Iowa State's 6-8, 270-pound Royce White. The sophomore is averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game, and is the only player in the country to lead his team in each category. He's had four 20-point games and his last-second shot sunk Kansas State on Tuesday.

"It's a team that plays well around White," Grooms said. "Well-coached and solid."

OU coach Lon Kruger said White is a "terrific player who can do so many things. One of the more difficult matchups in the league."

The Cyclones play around White. The Sooners will be getting their confidence from Grooms, who has started all 21 games this season -- his first at OU since transferring from Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.

"We're not approaching this game any differently," Grooms said. "But we have a better mindset now than we did."



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