Dealing with a week of weather-related postponements, the Oklahoma Sooners showed no signs of rust.
OU’s midweek matchup with Texas was rescheduled twice before ultimately getting postponed indefinitely, but the Sooners remained locked in against the Iowa State Cyclones, rolling to a 66-56 victory in Ames on Saturday.
"Good road win," Sooner head coach Lon Kruger said after the game. "We'd like to have made it a little cleaner, but Iowa State deserves credit for continuing to fight and hanging in there."
The win was actually a milestone of sorts for Oklahoma, as it was the Sooners' first win inside Hilton Coliseum since 2011, and Kruger's first as OU's head coach.
OU got 20 points and 5 rebounds from Austin Reaves, while De'Vion Harmon had 10 and 7 and Umoja Gibson added 10 as well.
"(Reaves) got us off to a really good start," Kruger said. "He id a good job of converting and distributing and getting others involved to open the ballgame.
"And then when the game was on the line, you know, he went to the line and made free throws... He's had a lot of good ballgames, and we needed another good one out of him tonight."
Oklahoma ensured there would be no repeat the 3-point defensive woes which reared their ugly head in the first close battle these two teams waged earlier in February.
In their prior 79-72 win, the Sooners allowed the Cyclones to sink 16-of-31 attempts from deep. On Saturday, OU held Iowa State to a dismal 4-of-19 from 3-point range.
Perimeter defense wasn’t the only facet of the game Kruger’s team dominated, as they whipped the Cyclones on the boards, forced nine turnovers, and held Iowa State to 39 percent shooting.
The only real area the Sooners struggled was their own 3-point shooting, hitting only 6-of-24 from deep.
Attempting to recapture their momentum before the midweek postponements, OU’s balanced attack leveled Iowa State.
In the first half, all nine Sooners who logged minutes scored, with Reaves ending up as the only OU player in double figures at the intermission. Four different Sooners drained two or more baskets in the first half.
After OU built a lead as large as 21 points, the Cyclones went on a 7-0 run to cut into the Sooner lead, but OU withstood the run and took a 16-point lead into the break.
The Cyclones would not wilt on their home floor, however.
Out of halftime, great defense saw Iowa State stormed all the way back, taking a one-point lead on the back of Tre Jackson’s triple with 11:29 left . ISU's 3-point shooting cooled, however, as the Cyclones finished just 3-of-11 from downtown after the break.
On the ensuing possession, Reaves took the ball himself and scored to nose the Sooners back in front.
"Coach just called flat, just trusted me to make a play and I just tried to take what the defense gave me, and the shot fell," Reaves said.
Surrendering the lead for the first time, the Sooners responded with an immediate scoring burst. Pushing back with an 16-4 run, Oklahoma wouldn’t trail for the rest of the contest.
"It was a good response in terms of losing the lead and widening it right back out," Kruger said. "Guys maintained their poise. We didn't really play with poise to lose the lead. I thought we were very careless with the ball and pretty frantic offensively when they were making their run.
"But when they did take the lead, I thought our guys handled that extremely well."
Kur Kuath’s defense helped put a halt to the Cyclone run in the second half. After being in-and-out of the lineup over the past few weeks, Kuath’s four points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 17 minutes of action helped weather the Iowa State storm.
"Kur came in tonight and played his minutes there in the second half in a big way," Kruger said. "That was huge."
The usual suspects led the way for Oklahoma offensively down the stretch.
Gibson continued his hot streak from deep, hitting two 3s on his way to 10 points, and Harmon also was good for some late buckets as OU tried to kill off the game.
Reaves also was effective taking care of the basketball down the stretch. In addition to his big numbers, he only turned the ball over once all night.
"We really just locked back in coming out of half," Reaves said. "We didn't do a good job staying focused and really just sticking to the game plan."
Battling back to come up with the win will help the Sooners in the Big 12 Tournament and beyond this March, Reaves said.
"It's a hard thing to do when a team's got literally all the momentum," he said. "When you can really call a timeout and just huddle up and people just get back to the game plan and get focused back is big.
"It's a game of runs, so any team you play is going to make runs."
Up next, the Sooners will visit Kansas State for the final leg of their three-game conference road trip. Tipoff from Manhattan will be at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.