OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Oklahoma held off a late Iowa State run to win its Big 12 Tournament opener Thursday morning, 68-63. The Sooners (16-14 overall, 6-10 Big 12) might have locked up a berth in the NIT with the win, and will look to solidify their case further when they take on top-seeded Kansas Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Ford Center.
OU played with an incredible amount of fire in the first half, opening up a 35-23 halftime lead, accentuated with a Bobby Maze three-pointer as time expired. The Cyclones stormed back late, grabbing their first lead of the game with just under five minutes to play. But OU hit 15 of its 19 free throws in the second half to pull away late. Senior Nate Carter led the Sooners with 22 points, including a 12-of-13 showing from the stripe, and freshman Tony Crocker poured in 15. David Godbold and Taylor Griffin each had 11 points for OU, while Maze had nine. The Sooners' bench didn't score a single point. Jeff Capel's club was also short a man, missing senior Mike Neal, who was out with a stomach virus. Neal said outside of Oklahoma's locker room afterwards that he expects to play Friday.
KU won its lone regular season meeting with Oklahoma, taking down the Sooners 67-65 on the road on Feb. 26. The Jayhawks squandered a 17-point lead in the second half, but still escaped victorious.
Darrell Arthur, who has also been struck with a virus recently, struggled all week to get back to full strength. The team arrived at its hotel late Thursday afternoon, where Bill Self addressed a small gathering of media. In that session, he said Arthur practiced at full speed Thursday morning for about five minutes at a time, and will play Friday, just not as many minutes as usual. Arthur, along with fellow freshman Sherron Collins, was scoreless in the first meeting with Oklahoma.
For more on this story, read tomorrow's Journal-World.