NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - With six days to prepare for a team that has struggled all season on the road, Oklahoma turned Saturday’s home game against Kansas State into a confidence booster heading into the final four games of the Big 12 season.
Buddy Hield scored 18 points and Isaiah Cousins added 17 to help Oklahoma beat Kansas State 86-73 and begin to clear up the Big 12 standings with four games remaining in league play.
“I was really, really happy for our guys. I thought they opened the game sharp on both ends of the floor and attacked offensively,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said.
The runaway win helped break a three-way tie for third with Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State all entering the day with 8-5 league marks. Iowa State’s 71-60 Saturday win over TCU kept the Cyclones knotted with the Sooners.
Second-year Wildcats coach Bruce Weber saw his freshman class combine to score a season-high 43 points but there were few Wildcat positives in this one.
“We just kind of let them do what they wanted and they got going and we spotted them too many points to ever make it a game,” Weber said.
Oklahoma (20-7, 9-5) dominated in nearly every category, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half.
The Sooners took their first lead 3 minutes in when Hield drained a 3-pointer following a Kansas State turnover. From there, Oklahoma outscored the Wildcats 34-17 to lead 41-22 at the half.
Hield has now paced the Sooners in scoring in six of the last 10 games
Cameron Clark scored 11 and Jordan Woodard added 10 for the Sooners, who have won three of their last four games going into Monday night at Kansas.
Marcus Foster led Kansas State with 21 points. Nigel Johnson scored 11 and Thomas Gipson added 10.
The Wildcats (18-9, 8-6) lost their sixth consecutive road game and are 1-6 in away league games.
Kansas State dug a hole early it couldn’t climb out of, committing 10 first-half turnovers and shooting 39 percent with no starter scoring more than five points.
Oklahoma turned those turnovers into 17 points and controlled the tempo, outrebounding Kansas State 21-15 in the half and 32-28 for the game.
The Wildcats outscored Oklahoma 51-45 in the second half but it wasn’t enough in what has been a difficult season away from home.
“They’re disappointed,” Weber said. “They got their butts kicked today. This league is tough. It’s hard to win at home. It’s hard to win on the road.
Foster tried to get the Wildcats some momentum by launching a 3-pointer in front of Kansas State’s bench to open the second half. That shot rimmed off and the Wildcats would fail to score on four of their first five possessions.
The Wildcats have done some of their best work this season at home inside Bramlage Coliseum - winning their last 14 games, including beating No. 15 Texas and No. 7 Kansas.
Saturday’s game was a much different story than when the two teams met in Manhattan, Kan., on Jan. 14. Kansas State led 39-38 after the first half and came from behind in the final 5 minutes to win 72-66 with five different players scoring in double figures.
Saturday, the Wildcats didn’t have a player reach double-figure scoring until 7:51 remaining when Foster hit his second 3-pointer of the afternoon.
Both Oklahoma and Kansas State play two of their final three games at home.
Tensions rose late after Gipson was fouled during a made layup attempt. Oklahoma’s Woodard and Kansas State’s Nino Williams each were assesed technical fouls following the play for something each said.
It happened again with 2:01 remaining with Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler and Gipson picking up technicals while the two teams huddled next to each other on Oklahoma’s end of the floor.
“This group all year long has really understood we have to keep getting better and we’ve consistently done that,” Kruger said.
Oklahoma will close the season at home against Texas and West Virginia and then travel to TCU.
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