March 11, 2000

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Iowa State hopes to add the Big 12 Conference tournament trophy to its regular-season one as it battles Oklahoma Sunday in the championship game at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

The seventh-ranked and top-seeded Cyclones (28-4) reached the final with a 68-64 victory over No. 17 Oklahoma State on Saturday. Iowa State was led by Stevie Johnson, who had 21 points and a pair of critical three-point plays in the final two minutes. It marked the first time Marcus Fizer, the Big 12 Player of the Year, failed to lead the Cyclones in scoring since an 86-81 victory over Missouri on Jan. 8.

Fizer, who had averaged 33.5 points in his last six games heading into Saturday, added 19 for Iowa State. Jamaal Tinsley contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Cyclones held the Cowboys to 33.9 percent shooting.

"He (Fizer) has got to feel he doesn't have to score 100 points every time," Johnson said. "We've got to take some of the load off him. We're family."

The Cyclones have won just one conference tournament, capturing the 1996 Big Eight tournament after winning three games by a combined seven points. Iowa State is carrying an overall six-game winning streak into the championship game.

Third-seeded and 15th-ranked Oklahoma (26-5) followed senior center Eduardo Najera into the championship game. Najera had a career-high 31 points as the Sooners downed 13th-ranked Texas, 81-65 in Saturday's other semifinal. Najera, who was second in the Big 12 in scoring to Fizer and second in rebounding to Texas' Chris Mihm, has 44 points and 19 rebounds in two conference tournament games.

"One of the things that goes unnoticed about Iowa State, you talk about Fizer, Fizer, Fizer, Fizer. But they're a really good man-to-man defensive team," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "They pressure you. They can guard the ball. I think we're a lot better team than when we played them early. And they are, too."

Oklahoma won the only game between the two this season, 80-75 in double overtime on Jan. 22 in Norman. Najera led the Sooners with 25 points and 14 points while Tim Heskett hit six 3-pointers for 18 points. Fizer scored 20 points for Iowa State but was held scoreless in the two overtimes.

The Sooners have won three straight over the Cyclones and lead the all-time series 101-73.