AMES, Iowa (AP) – Jacob Groves led Oklahoma with 16 points as the Sooners knocked off No. 23 Iowa State 61-50 on Saturday.
The Sooners (14-15, 4-12 Big 12) had lost nine of their previous 11 games – and six in a row on the road – but erased an early 11-point deficit and seized control with a 17-2 run in the second half.
“For us, it’s to keep believing,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said. “Just keep believing and fighting.”
Groves made 4 of 5 from the 3-point line while Tanner Groves added 9 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Their efforts helped the Sooners maintain slim NCAA Tournament hopes.
“That’s why they call it March madness,” Moser said. “We’ve still got two more opportunities in this league. We’ve still got the Big 12 tournament. This league is crazy.”
The Cyclones (17-11, 8-8) shot just 31%, including 14 of 43 from inside the 3-point line.
Gabe Kalscheur led Iowa State with 12 points.
“It’s disappointing,” Kalscheur said. “I don’t want to feel like that, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got Monday (against West Virginia) so it doesn’t happen again.”
Both teams came into Saturday in a slump.
Oklahoma missed its first five shots and committed four turnovers while failing to score during the opening 5:33 of the game.
The Sooners still had just three points at the 11:40 mark of the first half.
“Iowa State did what they do,” Moser said. “They came out and they punched (us) in the face, with their effort.”
The Cyclones used that lull to build a 14-3 lead, but Oklahoma eventually pulled within 20-17 and 24-21.
Neither team shot better than 33% before halftime. Iowa State used a 14-4 edge in paint scoring to maintain a 28-23 lead at the break.
“We had a lot of looks at the rim, a lot of looks in the paint,” Cyclone coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “And we need to demand that we finish those plays and come away with those points.”
Oklahoma eventually went ahead as Tanner and Jacob Groves combined to score nine of the Sooners first 11 points of the second half. A steal and layup by Jalen Hill put Oklahoma up 36-32.
“I really liked our fight back, to get it within five at half,” Moser said. “We’ve seen it in this building, we’ve seen it with this team. How hard (the Cyclones) play. They get after you right out of the gate and sometimes it’s hard to adjust, because you can’t simulate how hard they play in your practice.”
The lead eventually grew to 42-32 on a 3-pointer by Grant Sherfield.
“We just have to be aggressive, be more physical, so they can’t make those easy passes that led to a lot of open rhythm threes from them,” Iowa State guard Tamin Lipsey said.
Sherfield finished with 10 points. The Sooners finished 10 of 23 (43.5%) from behind the arc. They also had a 25-14 edge in bench points.
“We certainly demand more, have higher standards for ourselves,” Otzelberger said. “We’re going to learn about who we are as a group and who we are as people… We’ve got to dig deep. We’ve got to find a way and that’s what we’re going to do these next two days.”
Oklahoma entered Saturday having lost six of its past seven games and having lost its last six road games. Iowa State has now lost five of its last six while trying to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.
Iowa State: Hosts West Virginia on Monday.
Oklahoma: Visits Kansas State on Wednesday.