Capel: "We Have Room to Improve"

NORMAN, OKLA -- For the OU men's basketball team, they are going into a stretch of a few games that would figure to be relatively easy victories.

It starts Saturday as the Sooners take a 20-1 overall record and a perfect 6-0 mark in Big 12 play into Ames, Iowa to face the reeling Iowa State Cyclones (12-8 overall, 1-4 Big 12).

After an 11-4 nonconference start, the Cyclones have lost four of their last five, including three in a row against Missouri, Kansas and Colorado.

But head coach Jeff Capel and the Sooners aren't getting complacent, even though Iowa State is a team the Sooners likely should handle.

"We still have a long way to go," Capel said after the Sooners' 89-81 victory over OSU in Stillwater Monday. "I still think we have room to improve. [But] I'm really proud of the way we are playing right now."

Part of the reason the Sooners can't get complacent is because opponents are always ready to wreck a run for a team that is 20-1 or has a similar mark.

The Sooners realize that.

"Our confidence level is high," said senior guard Austin Johnson. "[But] we know we've got the bull's eye on our back just because we're 20-1, 6-0 in the Big 12 and top five in the nation. We know everyday, practice-wise and game-wise, we want to come in and get better just because we know everyone's trying to hunt us down."

If the Cyclones want to have a chance at spoiling a so-far unblemished conference record for OU, though, they will have to shut down the mix of the post play of sophomore and senior forwards Blake and Taylor Griffin, as well as junior forward Juan Pattillo, who the Sooners recently pulled a redshirt off, and the recent outstanding guard play.

"[Austin Johnson] has shown that he can make deep shots," Capel said. "He did it at A&M. He made two of them from a little bit behind the arc. He is playing at a very high level for us right now. When he plays that way, it makes us a different basketball team. Hopefully, it is something he can continue to be consistent with."

Along with Johnson, freshman guard Willie Warren and the rest of the supporting cast around the perimeter have provided the Sooners with some extra firepower to complement the post play.

After Iowa State, OU will face Texas A&M on Wednesday and Colorado on Saturday, both contests at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.


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