AMES, Iowa – If the Iowa State Cyclones can play defense like they did against Oklahoma on Monday night, they might be a handful come March.
Will Clyburn scored 19 points and Iowa State cruised past the Sooners, 83-64. Chris Babb had 12 points on four 3s for the Cyclones (16-6, 6-3 Big 12), who improved to 5-0 in conference home games and 13-0 overall at Hilton Coliseum.
Iowa State opened the second half with a 14-2 run, turning a comfortable lead into an insurmountable 58-33 advantage. The Sooners had just one basket in the first seven minutes of the second half and shot just 37 percent from the field.
“We put everything together,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When you put it all together and you shoot the ball like we did, we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”
The Sooners and Cyclones entered play as part of a four-way tie for third place in the Big 12. On this night, Oklahoma never looked like it belonged with Iowa State.
Andrew Fitzgerald had 12 points for Oklahoma (14-7, 5-4), which got only 26 points out of its starters and lost for the third time in four games.
“They were sharp defensively, and we didn’t have much pop on offense as well,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “They beat us in pretty much every way.”
Melvin Ejim had 12 points and seven rebounds and Korie Lucious had eight assists for Iowa State, which has won its last 20 games at home dating back to last season. But the Cyclones have three of their next four games on the road against Kansas State, Texas and Baylor – and they’re just 2-5 in true away games.
Romero Osby and Steven Pledger, Oklahoma’s top two scorers, finished with just six and five points respectively – even though Iowa State’s defense wasn’t all great at the outset.
It didn’t matter. The Cyclones could hardly miss from 3-point range, and the defense quickly improved.
Iowa State buried seven of its first 10 3s – from six different players – in building a 31-20 lead. Clyburn then followed a rousing one-handed slam with a putback to push the Cyclones ahead 39-25.
“We did a great job of making the extra pass to make sure everyone was getting shots,” Babb said.
The Sooners and Cyclones both played on Saturday, and Oklahoma certainly defended like a team with tired legs in the first half.
Iowa State shot 51.5 percent in the opening 20 minutes, hit eight 3s and committed just three turnovers.
“I’m really proud of these guys for the way they approached it,” Hoiberg said. “You really have to have great awareness to Pledger, to Osby.”