MBB: Sooners live to play another day

Sooners advance to play top-seeded Kansas Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. in Oklahoma City. Nate Carter scored 24 points and Tony Crocker (pictured) added 15 as the Sooners improved to 16-14. See inside for Thursday's postgame news links. (AP Photo)

Oklahoma City, Okla. — Nate Carter scored 22 points and Tony Crocker added 15 as 9th-seeded Oklahoma snapped a six-game losing streak and advanced to Friday's quarterfinals with a 68-63 win over 8th-seeded Iowa State.

"I'm proud of our guys," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "It was a good win. We feel very fortunate to be able to move on and to play against an incredibly talented Kansas team. We felt we get off to a good start today."

Playing without starting guard Michael Neal, who was out with a stomach virus, the Sooners built a 35-23 halftime lead behind a 14-point first-half performance by Carter. OU pushed the lead to 14 early in the second half, but the Cyclones battled back.

Iowa State took their first lead of the game, 56-55, with 4:36 to go but it would be short-lived as Carter's putback 20 seconds later sparked an 8-0 run that helped the Sooners regain the lead for good. Then with the score 66-63, Carter sank back-to-back free throws with eight seconds left to ice the game.

"In the second half we came out and we knew they were going to make a run, which they did," said Capel. "But I was proud of our guys. We came back. We executed. Some guys made some big plays.

"David (Godbold) hit a big three for us off of a set that we ran and our guys made a great decision off of different options off of that play. And then we were able to make some free throws down the stretch.We feel fortunate to win and we look forward to moving on."

Joining Carter and Crocker in double figures were Taylor Griffin with 11 and David Godbold, who stepped up to score nine of his 11 points in the second half.

The Sooners will now focus their attention to top-seeded and second-ranked Kansas.

"Everything impresses me about them," said Capel on the Jayhawks, who beat the Sooners 67-65 on Feb. 26 in Norman. "They are very, very good. They are very talented at each position. They have depth. Great athleticism, very good size. Have some guys that can shoot it. Good defensively because of their athleticism, well-coached.

"It is going to be a tough challenge for us. I thought we did a very good job against them in the second half. We just haven't figured out how to guard the free throw line yet. Maybe if we can guard the free throw line and they don't get 32 free throws in the second half, maybe we will have a better chance."

"We don't want to go home right now," said Carter. "We just want to keep playing, keep playing hard. We believe that if we play together, we can beat anybody."

Tip-off Friday morning's OU-Kansas quarterfinal matchup is set for 11:30 a.m.

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