Sooners throttle Cyclones, get back on track

NORMAN, Okla. — So much for a hangover after the other night's devastating collapse at Texas, as the Sooners returned to the Lloyd Noble and hammered the Iowa State Cyclones 86-69 Saturday afternoon on Senior Day.

It was more than just a day for the seniors to remember, too.

The Sooners tied the NCAA all-time free throw record for consecutive makes, downing 34-of-34 in the contest to join 1990 Samford and 1981 UC-Irvine as the only other clubs to do so.

"It's been a good free throw shooting team, but that's an extreme, of course," said OU head coach Lon Kruger. "They start making them. That's kind of like anything else. Momentum builds and guys go up there expecting to. And I don't know that I didn't realize it during the time even that we hadn't missed. I doubt if they did either, but nice to see them step up there and shoot them with confidence."

Forward Amath M'Baye completed the feat when he cashed in the final two with 1:07 remaining.

But forward Romero Osby anchored that ship with his perfect 10-of-10, while forward Andrew Fitzgerald nailed 8-of-8.

"I didn't really think about it," Osby said. "I just got up there and just shot them. You know, you want to make them all, but, I mean, I didn't even realize that we hadn't missed. I was just trying to focus on the final score."

Because of their success at charity and their execution offensively, the Sooners took a wire-to-wire decision in this one that almost identically mirrored the opposite earlier season result between the two when Iowa State won big.

In fact, OU led by as much as 26 with less than four minutes remaining.

And unlike the middle of the week, they wouldn't give up their 20-plus-point advantage down the stretch.

"It was said in the huddle," said OU point guard Sam Grooms. "'We've been here before obviously.' It was definitely said. You know, ‘We've been here before. Let's not act like we haven't done this. Let's move forward and grow and mature as a team, and that's what I think we did today."

Five Sooners poured in double figures—forward Romero Osby, guards Grooms and Steven Pledger and forwards Amath M'Baye and Andrew Fitzgerald finished with 22, 19, 14, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Four did so for the Cyclones, including Tyrus McGee, who tied Osby as the game-high scorer with his 22.

Guard Babu Palo and forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim added 12, 10 and 10, respectively.

OU leapt out to an early 14-4 lead and held a 40-28 halftime advantage.

It only grew from there.

Along with their impressive free throw shooting, the Sooners netted 44.2 percent of their shots and distributed 17 assists to only five turnovers.

"Guys have done a good job of moving the ball and handling it," Kruger said. "Again, that starts with Sam, of course. A terrific job again today. Again, he's had four or five games where he's played great in a row. We expect that to continue. He's worked hard at it, and nice to see that for him."

Grooms led that category with a perfect four assists to no turnovers.

Iowa State wasn't nearly as efficient, managing 43.1 percent but tossing only eight dimes to nine turns.

The Sooners (19-9, 10-6 Big 12) likely sealed up their NCAA fate today, but they still have two more games remaining in the regular season to solidify their case.

"Whether I say it or not or think it or not, I think the only healthy way is to approach the next one like we gotta have one more," Kruger said.

They'll hit the hardwood at Lloyd Noble Center again for the first of those at 8 p.m. CT Wednesday against West Virginia.

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