After every conference home game, Sooners Illustrated is going to take a look at the five things that were revealed in Oklahoma's basketball game. Up now is OU's impressive 86-73 handling of Kansas State.
No. 1: This OU team is tough to beat
Let's get one thing straight right now – talking about the OU team that took the floor against the Wildcats. That is a scary team, but the Sooners hadn't looked like that in a long time as the grind of the conference season had stalled what was a prolific offense. It was all about ball movement and playing clean. Eighteen assists against a mere eight turnovers is always going to be a recipe for success. Shooting 51 percent from the field against the Wildcats is very impressive. With the ball movement, not forcing as many contested three-pointers. OU was 10-of-23 from downtown and many of them were quality looks.
No. 2: Cousins, Woodard return to form
It's a little too much to ask sophomore Isaiah Cousins for 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting per game, but it's obvious he's capable of it. It's also obvious he's better than what he showed in Bedlam at Oklahoma State. Jordan Woodard is his most effective when he's not trying to find his own offense and forcing shots. He had 10 points on four shots – the definition of being effective. The more promising sign for Woodard was he was back to distributing the ball and taking care of it with five assists against just one turnover.
No. 3: Hield is the leader
For weeks been trying to make senior forward Cameron Clark something he's not. He is not that rah rah vocal leader. That mantle firmly belongs to sophomore guard Buddy Hield. It's apparent the team feeds off his energy. When he's on, the rest of the team plays better. Hield led the Sooners in scoring once again with 18 points on 11 shots. Once again, another OU player that was very efficient in getting his points. When Hield is rolling, his whole game is taken to a whole new level as he had three of OU's eight steals against KSU.
No. 4: Don't sleep on Hornbeak
It's a quiet story that is starting to develop. Sophomore guard Je'lon Hornbeak is doing more than just giving Woodard a breather. He is starting to really find his niche and when it's his time to try to be productive. Hornbeak had eight points and three assists in 17 minutes. He's not as explosive as Woodard on the drive, but he has a fantastic basketball IQ that is becoming more apparent now that he's 100 percent healthy. The hesitation is gone from his game, and it's helping the Sooners immensely right now.
No. 5: Defensive effort must be there
As good as OU was on offense, it was the first half defense that put this game away. That's about as good an overall first half the Sooners have played this season. But to beat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, OU is going to need two halves like that. Even then, it might not be enough. KU was simply dominant Saturday night against Texas. The Jayhawks aren't always rolling at 100 percent for every game, either, but tough to find KU napping at home.