No. 9 Oklahoma looks to ramp up momentum vs. Iowa State
Heading into Saturday's Big 12 contest against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, No. 9 Oklahoma has played just one game in 13 days.
Sooners coach Lon Kruger said his team has handled the time off -- with no mid-week games each of the last two weeks -- well and isn't worried about losing momentum after winning seven of their last eight.
"I think the players are taking ownership and the understanding of what they need to do to get better," Kruger said. "It's not waiting for game time. The last couple of weeks, they've turned the corner in terms of, 'We're doing this. We're not waiting for the coaches to encourage us.' The players have taken that step, which is a huge difference.
"We'll see if we can transition that to the game against Iowa State on Saturday."
The Sooners were scheduled to host No. 2 Baylor on Feb. 10, but that game was postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19 issues with the Bears' program. They were set to host No. 12 Texas on Tuesday, but winter weather pushed the game to Wednesday and then Thursday before being postponed indefinitely.
So the Sooners (13-5, 8-4 Big 12) have played just one game since beating the Cyclones 79-72 at home on Feb. 6.
Iowa State showed in that first meeting that it can be dangerous, hanging around for most of the game before the Sooners finally put them away late.
The Cyclones (2-15, 0-12) are still looking for their first conference win, but they have found a bright spot of late in the play of junior big man George Conditt IV.
Conditt has struggled for much of the season but has come around lately, averaging 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over the last four games.
While Rasir Bolton carries the load for Iowa State offensively, Conditt is once again becoming a force defensively and on the boards.
"I've gotten happy," Conditt said of his recent play. "It took me awhile and I apologize to Cyclone Nation for that, but I'm playing happy, I'm playing free."
The way the team has handled the adversity of the season, Conditt said, has helped him turn things around.
"This team is one of the most 'we're trying to work' teams I've ever been a part of regardless of whether we're losing," Conditt said.
The Sooners haven't had much success in Ames recently, losing the last four regular-season games there.
Breaking that streak, Kruger said, is simple -- play better.
"That's our whole goal every week of the year, and guys have done that, and it seems like a while since we played at West Virginia, but we've got to line up and play better than we did there and hopefully do that same thing next week," Kruger said.
Kruger said Alondes Williams, who came off the bench in that Feb. 13 win at West Virginia in his first game back after missing three games -- including the first meeting with the Cyclones -- while recovering from COVID-19, would see his role expanded.
"We'll get him in there more, earlier," Kruger said. "He's had a good week of practice, good bounce, good pop to his step. ... Maybe it'd be better to have some games to get game ready, but the practices have been good for him, too."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 18, 2021