No. 15 Oklahoma falls to No. 13 ISU 67-65 in Big 12 semis
Mar. 14, 2015
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger called Ryan Spangler the "heart and soul" of the team, the kind of blue-collar kid who gives everything he has every time he steps on the floor.
No surprise that Spangler was nearly inconsolable Friday night.
The junior forward missed a point-blank layup at the buzzer, allowing No. 13 Iowa State to escape with a 67-65 victory over the No. 15 Sooners in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
"Everyone feels for him, that he missed that shot," Kruger said. "But hey, we'll pick it up and play and he'll bounce back. He's a gritty competitor and no one feels worse about it than he does. He's at the heart of everything we have done."
Buddy Hield had 16 points to lead the No. 4 seed Sooners (22-10), who blew an early 11-point lead and still haven't played for the title since winning three straight from 2001-03.
Isaiah Cousins added 14 points, and TaShawn Thomas and Jordan Woodard added 13 points each.
"Feel bad for Ryan for what he's going through right now, but we've got to find a way to pick him back up," Hield said. "But we've got to go into the NCAA Tournament and we've got to make a big run and stick together no matter what. Win, lose or draw, we've got to stick together as a group."
Georges Niang scored 13 points, Jameel McKay added 12 and Monte Morris had 11 for the second-seeded Cyclones (24-8), who will play No. 9 Kansas — the tournament's top seed — for the title.
"The comeback kids strike again," said Niang, whose team has rallied from double-digit deficits to win four straight games. "All we need is each other."
The Sooners raced to a 21-10 lead to start the game, and still led 27-19 when Iowa State put together a 10-2 spurt to knot the game at 29 headed to halftime.
The Cyclones pushed out to a 50-42 lead midway through the second half, but that was as close as either team came to creating separation. Oklahoma answered with a charge of its own, and Hield finished off a 10-2 spurt that made it 58-all with about 8 minutes left in the game.
From there, it was a sprint to the finish.
Iowa State took a 64-61 lead on a putback by McKay, and after the big forward blocked Woodard at the other end, Niang scored on a nifty fade way to make it 66-61 with 1:52 to go.
Spangler scored on a reverse layup at the other end for Oklahoma, and after the Cyclones came up empty on offense, the Sooners raced back the other way. Hield missed a tightly guarded 3 that would have tied the game, but Thomas was there for the putback with 12.6 seconds left.
Oklahoma quickly fouled Niang, an 81-percent free-throw shooter. He came up short on his first attempt before making his second, leaving the door open for the Sooners.
Thomas inbounded the ball to Woodard, and he drove right at Niang. The ball ended up in the hands of Spangler, but the junior forward's shot trickled off the rim as the clock expired.
The Cyclones raced off their bench to celebrate for the second straight night.
"They went on a run, which we knew they would, but we held our composure, which was a great sign," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said, "and that's what allowed us to win the game."
Back-to-back nail-biters probably haven't helped Jamie Pollard's recovery. The Cyclones' athletic director had a heart attack earlier this week while watching his kids compete in a track meet. "Hopefully he'll be able to get out of there in a few days," said Hoiberg, who has spoken to him on the phone, "and then it's the road to recovery."
Oklahoma only got two points from its bench — a basket by Khadeem Lattin in the second half Friday night — in two Big 12 Tournament games.
Oklahoma: Hield was just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc. ... The Sooners blew a 21-point lead against Iowa state on March 2.
Iowa State: Niang added eight rebounds and four assists. ... The Cyclones got 17 points off the bench. ... Iowa State won despite getting out-rebounded 43-27.
Oklahoma: awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding on Sunday.
Iowa State: faces the Jayhawks for the title on Saturday night.