Big 12 brawl pits Sooners against Cyclones

Ames, IA ( - A pair of Big 12 Conference programs with identical overall records meet at Hilton Coliseum on Monday night, as the Oklahoma Sooners tangle with the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Sooners came out of the weekend in second place in the Big 12 standings, sporting a record of 11-5 and trailing only Kansas, with the conference tournament just around the corner. The squad has won three straight and eight of the last nine, thanks to a 67-60 victory over TCU on the final day of February.

If Oklahoma can finish with wins in the final two outings, the team will earn at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title.

As for the Cyclones, the month of February was devastating as they split their eight outings. To put that in perspective, up until the end of January ISU had lost a total of four games. The latest setback for the Cyclones was a narrow 70-69 loss to Kansas State on the road this past Saturday, the second defeat in as many games for Iowa State, which is now locked in a three-way tie for third place in the Big 12 with Baylor and West Virginia at 10-6.

The Cyclones are 14-1 at home this season and have come out on top in all but three of their last 17 home dates versus nationally-ranked programs.

Oklahoma records show that the Sooners own a 113-82 advantage in the all-time series, thanks in part to a 94-83 win over ISU in Norman last month. Because of the unbalanced schedule, this is the only meeting of the regular season between the programs.

The Sooners trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half against visiting TCU, eight at the break, before dialing up the pressure at both ends of the floor over the final 20 minutes of action. In addition to shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 12-of-18 at the free-throw line in the second half, Oklahoma limited the Horned Frogs to just nine field goals, including 2-of-9 beyond the arc down the stretch. Buddy Hield registered a double-double consisting of 21 points and a game-high 13 boards, followed by TaShawn Thomas with 15 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler tacked on 10 points apiece.

In conference play, Hield leads the offensive attack for the Sooners with 18.1 ppg, shooting 38.3 percent behind the 3-point line and 79.4 percent at the charity stripe. He is also one of the leaders on the glass with 5.8 rpg, although he is trailing both Thomas (11.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Spangler (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg). While those two focus much of their efforts in the paint, Cousins (11.3 ppg) tries to provide the squad with a perimeter presence as he knocks down 45.9 percent of his chances from 3-point range.

Iowa State led by as many as 14 points against Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum and was on top for more than 37 minutes of the meeting over the weekend, but that's why they play a full 40 as the Cyclones took the loss on the road. Georges Niang tallied a game-high 21 points, shooting 5-of-7 behind the 3-point line, followed by Monte Morris with 15 and Jameel McKay 13 points, the latter adding a game-high 10 rebounds in the setback as well. ISU held a slight 34-32 edge on the glass, but scoring in the paint was slanted in KSU's favor, 46-24.

The only team in the nation with six players averaging double digits in the scoring column, the Cyclones are outscoring the competition by almost 10 ppg thanks to the efforts of Niang and company. Niang is posting 14.8 ppg as a 40.6 percent shooter from 3-point range, not to mention coming up with 5.4 rpg and handing out 93 assists. Not only are there plenty of scoring options the Cyclones can turn to, having four players with at least 50 assists is also a feat that few can compete with. Morris leads that charge with a 150 dishes, against a mere 32 turnovers, which is incredible in itself these days.