With a one-game lead atop the standings, Kansas is on track for its 11th consecutive Big 12 Conference regular-season championship, but surging Oklahoma hopes to offer a roadblock when the teams close out the regular season Saturday in Norman. To have a chance, though, the 17th-ranked Sooners are likely going to have to find a way past No. 13 Iowa State on the road Monday night. “The Big 12 – if you are going to be in the race – it is going to be tough,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger told the media following Saturday’s 67-60 home win over TCU. “It has been tough all of the way through. Our guys are focused, and we have been talking since Jan. 1 that we just have to keep getting better – regardless if we win a game or lose, we have to improve.”
The Cyclones, meanwhile, have fallen two games off the Big 12 pace following losses to Baylor (79-70) and Kansas State (70-69) last week. Saturday’s setback in Manhattan was particularly painful as Iowa State let a 60-48 lead slip away in the final 10 minutes and handed the hosts the winning dunk on an errant in-bounds pass with 18 seconds remaining. “We’ve got to bounce back,” Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said at his post-game press conference. “That’s two tough ones – two very tough ones in a row—and we’ll find out a lot about ourselves in how we bounce back.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Cyclones as 4.5-point home favorites.
INJURY REPORT: Sooners – F Dante Buford (Out for season, academics). Cyclones – G Hallice Cooke (Out for season, hip).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Sooners (-15.85) + Cyclones (-15.65) + home court (-3.0) = Cyclones -2.8
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Close wins (by Oklahoma) over sagging Texas and overmatched Texas Tech are not impressive. But what was impressive in those games was the calm that this team played with in the final three minutes of each game.” Covers Expert Doc’s Sports.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (20-8 SU, 11-5, 14-12 ATS, 10-15 O/U): The Sooners have won three straight and eight of their last nine, including a 94-83 home victory over Iowa State on Feb. 9. Guard Buddy Hield had 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds Saturday against the Horned Frogs and is pacing the team with 17 points per game. Fellow starters Isaiah Cousins (12 points), TaShawn Thomas (11.2) and Ryan Spangler (10.4) are also scoring in double figures, with the latter averaging a team-best 7.6 rebounds for Oklahoma, which ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring margin (plus-10.2), field-goal percentage (44.6), free-throw accuracy (72.7 percent) and field-goal percentage defense (38.1).
ABOUT IOWA STATE (20-8 SU, 10-6, 13-12 ATS, 13-10 O/U): The Cyclones are coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season, including the nine-point setback against Baylor – their only home defeat in 15 games this season. Led by Georges Niang (14.8 points), Bryce Dejean-Jones (11.7) and Jameel McKay (11.1), Iowa State is also the only team nationally with six players averaging double digits, but it’s been a struggle of late for Dejean-Jones who is coming off a scoreless outing against Kansas State and finishing with 10 points or fewer in four of his last five games. As a team, the Cyclones are pacing the Big 12 in scoring (79.1 points), field-goal percentage (48.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48).
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Iowa St..
* Sooners are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Under is 7-3 in Sooners last 10 overall.
* Favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: N/A