Seven and a half minutes away from becoming an NCAA Tournament lock, the Sooners' late game troubles reared their ugly head once again and this time allowed Iowa State to surge on a 25-6 stretch to seize a 73-66 Big 12 quarterfinal victory and send them into an anxious wait-and-see state for the Big Dance.
"We're always going to be nervous about it," said OU forward Romero Osby, who led the Sooners with 18 points on 8-of-19 shooting. "We've got a couple days to sit down and just really think about it. But you can't worry about it. We've got to get back to work and get prepared for wherever we're going to be."
Where the Sooners were in this one was up 60-48 and seemingly in total control with 7:42 to play.
They led by as much as 13 in the second half and threatened to put the Cyclones away, but time after time Iowa State kept storming back with 5-0, 6-0 or 7-0 spurts.
"They were quicker to loose balls," said OU point guard Sam Grooms. "They played a little bit harder. And, I mean, point-blank they made shots towards the end. Shots they were missing in the first half they continued to shoot and they made them towards the end of the game."
The final dagger came with the Cyclones up 68-66, the shot clock winding down and just 32 seconds left, as Iowa State guard Chris Babb poured in a deep three.
OU, who led for more than 35 minutes of the contest, missed ensuing 3-pointers inside the final half minute that could have drawn them back within a single possession.
"Tough ballgame to lose," said OU head coach Lon Kruger. "I thought our guys played a lot of good minutes in the ballgame. Had a stretch there in the second half where Iowa State made some shots and did a good job to get into the lead and cut into our lead and then take the lead."
The Sooners scored the game's first six points and held Iowa State scoreless for the first 3:59 of the contest on their way to building a double-digit lead in the first half.
They led 37-29 at intermission and opened it up to as much as 13 on guard Cameron Clark's jumper that made it 56-43 with 9:38 to play.
But they just ultimately couldn't seal the deal, squandering a 10-plus-point lead inside the final eight minutes for the second time in the last five games.
Along with Osby, Clark finished in double figures with 17 points on 5-for-7 field goal shooting.
Four Cyclones managed double figures, including a game-high 23 points from Ejim, as well as 17, 10 and 10 from guard Will Clyburn, Babb and Niang, respectively.
While Iowa State moves on to play Kansas in the Big 12 Semifinals, OU sits on the couch hoping for its name to be called on Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tourney.
"That doesn't do much good," Kruger said when asked if he'll call buddies on the selection committee and politick. "That doesn't happen. We played good basketball. We made good progress. Don't have anything that we can affect it with at this point."
The field will be announced starting at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.