Oklahoma used a big win to vault itself into the Top 25 for the first time in more than four years. But the Sooners' stay could be short-lived if Kansas State's home success against ranked foes continues.
No. 25 Oklahoma looks to follow its upset of Iowa State with another strong conference victory against the Wildcats on Tuesday night.The Sooners (13-3, 2-1 Big 12) failed to take advantage of their first two chances at significant victories, losing 87-76 to then-top-ranked Michigan State on Nov. 23 and 90-83 versus then-No. 18 Kansas on Wednesday.They capitalized against previously unbeaten and ninth-ranked Iowa State on Saturday, however, claiming an 87-72 home victory. The Top 25 ranking is the program's first since Nov. 23, 2009."We needed this one," said Buddy Hield, who scored 22 for the second time in three games and hit a career-high six 3-pointers on 12 attempts. "We just had to find a way to win the game at the end and we did that."While Oklahoma's offense continued to play at a high level, topping 80 points for the 13th time and matching a season high with 13 3-pointers, coach Lon Kruger's team also made its mark on the boards. The Sooners claimed a 41-34 rebounding advantage just three days after surrendering a season-worst 36-22 edge to Kansas.Ryan Spangler finished with 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as Oklahoma recorded 22 second-chance points to Iowa State's two."Ryan just took over the game," Kruger said of Spangler, one of the league's top rebounders with 9.2 per game. "Did some great things offensively and rebounded the ball like crazy. The guy gets so much respect for how he approaches it because he brings it every day and doesn't care about anything else except the team."Kansas State (12-4, 2-1) was ranked No. 25 last week before dropping out after being humbled in Saturday's 86-60 defeat at Kansas.The Wildcats let the Jayhawks shoot 56.1 percent, including 65.5 percent in the first half as they trailed by 17 at the break. They came in riding a 10-game winning streak, holding opponents to 53.1 points per game on 36.7 percent shooting.Kansas State had kept strong offenses in check, holding Oklahoma State 14 points below its average last week and Gonzaga more than 20 points below its average last month, but seemed to come unhinged at Allen Fieldhouse."Early the crowd got us rattled," said forward Nino Williams, who scored 12. "People can say how hard it is to play here but you're on the court and when you're in the game it's different."The Wildcats, who have won six of nine against Oklahoma, will likely feel more comfortable at Bramlage Coliseum, where they've won eight of their last 11 against ranked squads.They'll likely need a better performance from top scorer Marcus Foster (13.7 ppg) after the freshman was 3 of 12 for seven points versus Kansas.Cameron Clark -- who is averaging a Big 12-best 18.3 points for the Sooners -- also comes off a lackluster game, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting against Iowa State. He's been inconsistent to open league play, going 1 for 9 with eight points in a win at Texas before matching a season high with 32 points against Kansas last week.