OU won't forget Kansas State

Sooners have won just one game in the past five tries against Wildcats

The memories of Oklahoma’s last trip to Manhattan, KS, come back to Sooners’ high-scoring guard Buddy Hield pretty quickly.

A few late rebounds and a blown lead.

Recalling Oklahoma’s last game against Kansas State is even easier.

A sluggish start and a couple failures late that led to Oklahoma – men or women – suffering its only loss of the season inside Lloyd Noble Center.

Sooners coach Lon Kruger is even more familiar with Kansas State, his alma mater and his first major conference coaching job – where he also coached Oklahoma assistant Steve Henson.

Kruger made four straight NCAA tournaments in four years with Kansas State. He’s looking for just his second win in the past three seasons – and only his fourth in four years against his alma mater – Saturday, when the Sooners’ look for a little bit of revenge.

“They came in here and whipped us for sure,” Kruger said. “They’ve got respect for Kansas State. They know that if they work harder than we do this time, they’ll win again. We have to be the group that works harder and wins those battles.”

No. 17 Oklahoma (17-7, 8-4 Big 12), which is currently in second place in the conference, has lost four of its last five games against Kansas State. Since Kruger came to Oklahoma, the Sooners’ have only had less success against Kansas during Big 12 play.

Hield hasn’t won on the road against Kansas State in two trips north.

“It stings a lot,” Hield said. “We had it won last year. . . . We just have to be locked in and focused. We had the lead. We’re a veteran ball club. We’re at that level now where we understand the game much better as a group. We’re more mature.

“I feel like if we get a lead or something, we have to take advantage of that. We can’t take bad shots or give them any chance to get back in the game.”

It’s that maturity and those memories of Kansa State that should keep Oklahoma, which has tied a Big 12-high, five-game winning streak and is looking for its sixth straight win, from overlooking the Wildcats, who have lost five straight.

“It doesn’t mean anything at all,” Kruger said of the opposing streaks. “Our guys have approached each one like it’s the only one that remains. That’s how we have to approach this one. The guys have done a pretty good job of cutting through all the clutter and just focusing on the next opponent.”

Kansas State has lost its last three games without leading scorer Marcus Foster, who was suspended but is likely to return against Oklahoma. Foster had a great bounce-back game in Norman barely a month ago.

Just two games after playing a season-low 14 minutes and scoring a career-low zero points, Foster knocked down a late shot and helped the Wildcats win in overtime. He scored 10 points in the final 10 minutes.

That’s a memory that is tough to forget but one that has a chance to be avenged.

“It does make us remember,” Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas said. “We’re on another streak, an even bigger streak. We’re playing the team that ended our last streak. Everybody doesn’t want that to happen again. We know that they’re capable, and they’re going to be at home so they are going to be a very confident team. We know that we have to stay poised at Kansas State.”

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