|Senior Point Guard Sam Grooms|
|Big 12 Championship: OU (20-10, 11-7) vs. Iowa State (21-10, 11-7)|
|Date & Tip Time||Thursday, March 14 at 11:34 a.m. CT|
|Location||Kansas City, Mo. | Sprint Center|
|Tickets||Sprint Center Ticket Office|
|Radio|| Sooner Radio Network
KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
Sirius 93; XM 191
|Live Stats||SoonerSports.com GameTracker|
|Game Info||Game Notes (PDF)|
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship's No. 4 seed, Oklahoma (20-10 overall, 11-7 Big 12) plays No. 5 seed Iowa State (21-10, 11-7) in a quarterfinals matchup on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CT inside Kansas City's Sprint Center. The teams split the regular season series, with the home squad each winning by double figures.
ON THE AIR
Thursday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa; Sirius 93; XM 191) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck calling the action. The game will be televised by ESPN2 with Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe announcing.
TEN THINGS TO KNOW
Oklahoma and Iowa State split the regular season series, with the Cyclones handing OU its worst defeat in Big 12 play on Feb. 4 in Ames (83-64), and the Sooners dealing ISU its worst loss of the season on March 2 in Norman (86-69).
OU owns a 111-80 all-time record against Iowa State and is 5-2 against the Cyclones in conference postseason tournament play (4-1 Big Eight, 1-1 Big 12). ISU beat the Sooners in the 2000 Big 12 title game (70-58 in Kansas City), and OU downed the Cyclones in the first round of the 2007 event (68-63 in OKC).
In the four regular season meetings over the last two seasons, ISU has outscored OU 144-51 from 3-point range (the Cyclones won three of those games).
Iowa State (78.7) and Oklahoma (73.6) ranked first and second in the Big 12 (league games only) in scoring. OU has scored at least 83 points in five of its last six games (averaging 83.0 in the six), while ISU has scored at least 83 in seven of its last eight games (averaging 85.1 in the eight). The one game ISU didn't reach 83 came against OU (held to 69 points two weeks ago in Norman).
Since shooting .366 from the field, .188 from 3-point range (3-for-16) and .529 from the free throw line (9-for-17) in its 83-64 loss at Iowa State, OU shot .468, .381 and .814 the second half of the Big 12 season, respectively.
Three games ago against Iowa State, OU tied an NCAA record for most free throw attempts without a miss by going 34-for-34. The Sooners lead the Big 12 and rank 11th nationally with their .758 season free throw mark (school record is .767 in 2001-02) and shot a league-best .774 in Big 12 play. In Big 12 home games, OU shot a gaudy .857 from the foul line.
First-team All-Big 12 selection Romero Osby led the team (or tied for the lead) in scoring in 13 of its 18 conference games and scored in double figures in all but one (held to six points at Iowa State). In Big 12 play, the senior forward led the league in field goals (109) while ranking second in scoring (17.8 ppg), third in field goal percentage (.540) and fifth in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and free throw percentage (.776). Over the last seven outings, he is averaging 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting .583 from the field.
OU's 11 conference wins are more than it compiled over the two previous seasons combined (won five each of the last two years).
The Sooners are 4-4 at Kansas City's Sprint Center. They went 1-1 in the 2008 Big 12 Championship, 0-1 in the 2009 event, 1-1 in 2011 and 0-1 last year. They also beat Morgan State and Michigan in the 2009 NCAA Tournament first and second rounds as a No. 2 seed.
Lon Kruger is looking to become the first head coach to take five different Division I programs to the NCAA Tournament. He is among eight coaches who have taken four different programs to the Big Dance. The others are current coaches John Beilein, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, and former coaches Lefty Driesell, Jim Harrick, Tom Penders and Eddie Sutton.
PREVIEWING IOWA STATE
Iowa State owns a 21-10 overall record and finished tied with Oklahoma (fourth place) in league play with an 11-7 mark. The Cyclones, who went 16-1 at home this year and 5-9 away from it, suffered three overtime losses in Big 12 play. In conference action, ISU led the league with its 78.7 points per game and is averaging 85.1 points over the last eight outings.
Iowa State leads the nation with its 10.0 3-pointers per game, and in Big 12 play averaged 10.6 makes per outing. The Cyclones have made at least 10 treys in nine of the last 10 contests (averaging 11.9 in those 10 games) and canned a school-record 17 against Kansas on Feb. 25. They made 74 more treys than their opponents in Big 12 play (an average difference of 12.3 points per game).
Second-team All-Big 12 selection and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Will Clyburn is averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game on the year and ranks second on the squad with 7.1 rebounds per contest and third with 2.2 assists. The senior guard and Utah transfer has attempted a team-high 181 free throws, 85 more than the Cyclone with the next most attempts.
Fellow senior guard Tyrus McGee, from Stringtown, Okla., was named the Big 12's Sixth Man of the Year. McGee averages 13.5 points in just 24.1 minutes per game and has come off the bench in 29 of 31 contests. He leads the Big 12 with his 2.8 3-pointers per game and with his .470 season 3-point field goal percentage. McGee has shot 50 percent or better from long range in seven of the last nine games (combined 30-for-53 [.566] in those nine).
Forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim average 11.8 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Niang, a freshman, is shooting a team-best .506 from the field and contributes 4.5 rebounds an outing. Ejim, a junior, was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and leads the conference with his 9.3 boards per game.
Fred Hoiberg is in his third year as a collegiate head coach and owns a 60-43 record. He was a 1995 third-team All-American at Iowa State and is the school's third-leading all-time scorer (1,993 points). The Ames native played 10 years in the NBA.
OU-IOWA STATE SERIES HISTORY
Oklahoma owns a 111-80 all-time series lead against Iowa State and is 5-2 against the Cyclones in postseason conference play (4-1 Big Eight, 1-1 Big 12). The Cyclones have won three of the last four overall meetings, but OU has won 13 of the last 20. OU is 13-8 against Iowa State since the start of the Big 12 Conference. The squads met in the 2000 Big 12 Tournament title game in Kansas City (ISU won 70-58) and in the 2007 first round in Oklahoma City (OU won 68-63).
EARLIER THIS YEAR VS. THE CYCLONES
OU and Iowa State split the two-game regular season series, with the home team winning by double digits in both contests. The Cyclones' 83-64 win on Feb. 4 represented OU's worst loss in Big 12 play, while the Sooners' 86-69 win on March 2 stands as ISU's worst defeat of the season.
In the first meeting, the Cyclones outscored the Sooners by 24 points from 3-point range, going 11-for-27 while holding OU to a 3-for-16 performance. It was their 20th straight home win. ISU broke open an 8-8 game by going on a 9-2 run to take a 17-10 lead with 14:28 left in the first half and never trailed afterward. They led by as many as 25 (58-33). Senior Andrew Fitzgerald led the Sooners in scoring for the first time this year with his season-high-tying 12-point effort off the bench. Fitzgerald was 5-for-11 from the field and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds in his 18 minutes. Freshman Isaiah Cousins matched a career high with 10 points in a reserve role, while junior Cameron Clark also netted 10 points off the bench on 5-for-8 shooting. OU's starters went a combined 11-for-39 (.282) from the field and totaled 26 points (none of them reached double figures).
In the rematch in Norman, OU won by 17 thanks in part to an NCAA-record-tying 34-for-34 free throw performance. Ahead 40-28 at halftime, the Sooners went 30-for-30 from the foul line in the second half. They committed a season-low five turnovers on the game and posted a 36-27 rebounding advantage. On the team's senior day, all four seniors who suited up scored in double figures and combined to account for 65 of the squad's 86 points. Romero Osby led the way with 22 points and also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Sam Grooms scored 19 points (second-highest career total) and added six assists against one turnover. Steven Pledger went 4-for-9 from 3-point range and tallied 14 points while Fitzgerald came off the bench to supply 10 points (8-for-8 at the foul line).
OKLAHOMA TEAM UPDATE
Oklahoma entered the final weekend of Big 12 play having trailed for a total of 6 minutes and 23 seconds over its five previous games (out of 205 minutes). But OU never led in its 70-67 defeat at TCU on Saturday. The Sooners trailed 44-22 at halftime and fell behind by 25 (47-22) before rallying to within one point on two occasions in the final minutes. They went 0-for-16 from 3-point range (second time since the 1996-97 season they did not connect from behind the arc) and shot .364 from the field (worst figure in 12 games).
As of Monday, Oklahoma is ranked 33rd out of 347 Division I teams in the CBSSports.com RPI, with a strength of schedule ranked No. 19 (second best in Big 12). OU was projected on Monday by USA Today as a No. 7 NCAA Tournament seed.
The Sooners have scored at least 72 points in eight of their last nine games and have registered at least 83 in five of their last six. They are averaging 80.4 points over the last nine contests after averaging 62.5 over the six games immediately prior to the stretch.
In Big 12 play, OU ranked in the top four of the league in scoring offense (second at 73.6 ppg), field goal percentage (fourth at .451), free throw percentage (first at .774) and rebounding margin (second at +2.4).
The Sooners finished their home schedule by going nearly a month without trailing at Lloyd Noble Center. The last time they were behind at home was Feb. 9 vs. Kansas (14-13 with 14:27 left in first half). In their final four home games, they never trailed against TCU, Baylor, Iowa State or West Virginia. OU was ahead or tied for each of its final 194 minutes and 26 seconds at home.
Oklahoma has won six of its last nine games, with all three of its defeats during the stretch occurring on the road. Two of the losses came in overtime (Oklahoma State and Texas; OU did not trail in the second half of either) and the other by three points (TCU).
The Sooners have led at halftime in eight of the last nine games. The halftime advantages in those eight games were 4 vs. Kansas, 25 vs. TCU, 8 at Oklahoma State, 8 at Texas Tech, 26 vs. Baylor, 15 at Texas, 12 vs. Iowa State and 11 vs. West Virginia.
OU shot better from the field than its opponent in 13 of 18 conference outings, including seven of the last nine.
Oklahoma shot .437 from the field over its first 10 conference games but shot .470 over the final eight contests.
OU leads the Big 12 with its .758 season free throw percentage and owns a league-best .774 mark in conference play. The Sooners own four of the Big 12's top five free throw performances of the year (1.000 [34-for-34] vs. Iowa State, 1.000 [14-for-14] vs. TCU, .947 vs. Texas A&M and .938 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi). They are shooting .814 from the charity stripe over the last nine outings.
In its nine Big 12 home games, OU shot .857 from the free throw line and outscored its opponents by 10.8 points a game there. In nine Big 12 road games, OU shot .663 and was outscored by an average of 2.8 points at the stripe.
Five of OU's 10 losses have come to teams ranked in the top 15 of this week's AP poll (Gonzaga, Kansas, Kansas State [twice] and Oklahoma State own a combined average record of 26-5). Four of the other five losses came by one point (Stephen F. Austin), three points (at Arkansas and at TCU) or in overtime (at Texas). Stephen F. Austin is 26-3 and leads the nation in scoring defense.
The Sooners have already won two more games away from home this year (8-8 record) than they did over the last two seasons combined (6-25 record). Their eight wins away from home rank second in the Big 12 (Kansas has won nine away from Lawrence).
If it beats Iowa State, Oklahoma will play the winner of No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 8 West Virginia/No. 9 Texas Tech in a semifinals game on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT (televised by the Big 12 Network). Saturday's 5 p.m. championship game will be televised by ESPN.