NORMAN, Okla. – It’s hard to ignore what Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield has done this season and certainly during this last week.
There was no way he could duplicate what he did Monday in Kansas, but he did his best, especially on offense.
But for the No. 1/2 Sooners to be as good as they believe they can be, it’s going to be because of someone like Khadeem Lattin. The sophomore once again came up big, this time on both sides of the court, in OU’s 86-76 win against visiting Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.
Hield was coming off his epic 46-point performance in the triple overtime loss to Kansas on Monday, but it was also a huge night for Lattin. He recorded a career-high six blocks.
What did he do for an encore? Another six-block performance.
“What he has done the last couple of weeks is really good,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “He’s not just blocking shots but changing shots.”
On defense. What showed Saturday was a glimpse of his offensive game. One of the questions heading into this season for OU was about finding a second interior scorer to go with Ryan Spangler.
Lattin did that with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, two assists and zero turnovers before fouling out in 32 minutes of play.
“Good stuff has been happening,” said Lattin about his confidence soaring. “That always helps with confidence. I’m just getting more comfortable with the other guys on the court.”
Comfortable is one word to describe Hield. After playing 54 of 55 minutes in Lawrence, Hield came out of the gate firing. He scored 15 of OU’s first 25 points as the Sooners raced to a 25-6 lead. He finished 11 of 14 shooting, 6-8 from the 3-point line and his sixth 30-point performance with 31 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone playing more efficiently than what Buddy is doing right now,” Kruger said. “He’s all about winning.”
The letdown, either mental or physical, expected for OU (13-1) wasn’t there in the first half as OU earned a 21-point lead in the first half. Though things weren’t as crisp in the second half, the Wildcats never got within eight points in the second half.
KSU coach Bruce Weber said he was hoping to catch OU in a bad spot but said it was the exact opposite this time around. The Sooners came with a vengeance, and though Hield has been great offensively and Lattin the same on defense, Weber didn’t hesitate when mentioning the biggest difference with OU’s team this season.
“Woodard,” said Weber, talking about OU junior guard Jordan Woodard. “We didn’t even guard him last year.”
That would be a mistake this year as Woodard had another solid outing with 19 points and four assists, including 3 of 5 on his 3-point field goal attempts.
Senior forward Ryan Spangler had 14 points and seven rebounds as well for the Sooners. No slowing down in the Big 12 as OU heads to Stillwater for Round 1 of Bedlam against Oklahoma State.
The win vs. KSU capped a big day for the Sooners as former top-100 prospect Austin Grandstaff announced he's transferring to OU earlier in the day. Grandstaff was at Ohio State and should be eligible to play at OU starting second semester of 2016-17 season.