Sooners and Wildcats duke it out in Big 12 melee

12:18 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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Manhattan, KS ( - A marquee Big 12 Conference showdown is on tap for Tuesday night, as the 25th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners head to Bramlage Coliseum to take on the Kansas State Wildcats.

Oklahoma has began the season in outstanding fashion with wins in 13 of its first 16 games, which includes a 2-1 start in the Big 12. The Sooners' most impressive victory over the season came on Saturday afternoon at home against nationally-ranked Iowa State, as they handed the Cyclones their first loss of the season, 87-82, which allowed them to catapult into the Top 25 for the first time this season.

Kansas State made a splash on the national radar with a 10-game winning streak, but that run came to an end on Saturday as it dropped an 86-60 decision at intrastate foe Kansas, which forced it to drop from the national rankings in the latest poll. The Wildcats are still an impressive 12-4 overall this season (2-1 Big 12), which includes an 8-1 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.

In regard to the all-time series, Oklahoma holds a 104-93 lead over Kansas State, but the Wildcats swept last season's two matchups.

The Sooners were locked up in a tight battle with Iowa State early in their most recent contest but pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 13 before hanging on for the five-point victory. Although they were outshot from the field by the Cyclones, 52.3 percent to 40.6 percent, they made 13 3- pointers, shot 18-of-21 from the free-throw line and won the battle on the boards, 41-34. Buddy Hield shot 6-of-12 from 3-point range on his way to team- high 22 points, while Ryan Spangler tallied 16 points and 15 rebounds. Isaiah Cousins added 17 points and Cameron Clark chipped in 12 points to the balanced effort.

On the season, Oklahoma boasts an outstanding offense, as it shoots 46.2 percent from the field (including 38.4 percent from 3-point range) for 87.0 ppg, good for fifth-best in the nation. All five starters, who have started all 16 games together, average in double figures, led by 18.3 ppg from Clark. Hield (16.8 ppg) has a team-best 36 3-pointers, Jordan Woodward (11.8 ppg) dishes out 4.6 apg, Isaiah Cousins scores 10.9 ppg and Spangler puts up 10.9 ppg as well (on 66.3 percent from the field), while hauling in 9.3 rpg.

The Wildcats were ultimately no match for Kansas over the week, as they shot a modest 44 percent from the field (including just 1-of-11 from 3-point range), allowed KU to make greater than 56 percent of its field goal tries and lost the rebounding battle, 33-25, in the 26-point setback. Nino Williams paced the losing effort, shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line for 12 points, while Thomas Gipson was the only other player in double figures with 10 points.

Kansas State's offensive production has been sub-standard this season, as it shoots just 42.1 percent from the field for 67.2 ppg, but it has ridden its outstanding defense to great success, as its 59.8 ppg allowed ranks 11th-best in the nation. It's also aided by positive margins in both the rebounding (+3.6) and turnover (+1.4) battles. Marcus Foster leads the way with 13.7 ppg but does so on just 38.5 percent from the field. Gipson (11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Shane Southwell (10.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) are also regular contributors.

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