There really is nothing like a close game that comes down to the final seconds of action.
The Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys treated the fans to a show on Saturday, Feb. 15, as it really was anybody's game in the waning minutes. The Sooners came out on top, 77-74, though, as the Cowboys' late attempts at intentional fouling did not yield the results they were hoping for.
Here's a brief recap and player grades for a few of the contest's brightest stars.
This game really was close the entire time. The first half ended with the Sooners clinging to a 39-37 lead, and they entered the second half looking to put more space between themselves and the Cowboys.
The resilience of the Cowboys shined through, however. After a three-pointer to open the half from Phil Forte III, the Cowboys essentially traded baskets back and forth with the Sooners for most of the half. Forte and Markel Brown stole the show for O.K. State in the half, as they were both critical in keeping the game so close.
Ryan Spangler and Buddy Hield were two of the biggest contributors for the Sooners. Spangler posted a double-double and Hield paced his team with 22 points. His ability to hit from three became a key aspect of Oklahoma's game plan.
With Marcus Smart serving the second game of his three-game suspension following an altercation with a fan against Texas Tech, it was clear that the Cowboys didn't really have the star power to keep up with the Sooners. Sure, they performed admirably, but throwing Smart into the action likely would have given them the edge.
Oklahoma State now sits at 16-9 after the loss. The Sooners, on the other hand, own a record of 19-7.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma: A-
Buddy Hield deserves a ton of credit for his team's victory. Head coach Lon Kruger drew up play after play for his star from deep, and Hield converted on these open looks quite often. He was 5-13 from three.
Overall, Hield was 8-18 from the floor with 22 points, three rebounds and three steals.
The sophomore guard has been stellar all season, averaging 16.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. He's a volume scorer who often takes a lot of shots, so I'm not terribly upset with the fact that he attempted 18 shots and made only eight.
His three steals were also important to the team's success. He's averaging just 1.3 per game this season, so the three he added in during this one were a pleasant surprise.
Frank Booker, Oklahoma: B+
The difference for the Sooners was production off the bench. The Cowboys had just one—that's right, one—point off the bench. Frank Booker had 15, and his shooting off the bench was clutch.
He was 4-6 from deep and 5-7 overall for the Sooners. He even added in two rebounds and two steals for good measure. Booker isn't known for such big performances, so this breakout really helped to keep the Sooners ahead for most of the contest.
On the year, he's dropping just 4.8 points per game on 34.3 percent shooting. Needless to say, he was much more efficient and successful in this game.
If I can knock him for anything, it's that he didn't record an assist and also picked up three fouls while on the floor. I admire his aggressiveness in trying to make plays on defense, but those three fouls easily could have come back to haunt the Sooners.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State: A-
Guard Markel Brown paced all scorers with 26 points 8-16 on shooting—including 7-10 from the free-throw line.
Brown's line was complete, though. He grabbed nine boards (one offensive), dished out three assists, blocked two shots and recorded one steal. He ability to get to the line was especially clutch, as the rest of his teammates got to the line just 12 times combined.
Without Marcus Smart, somebody had to put the team on his back. Brown, who is averaging 16.7 points per night, was the obvious candidate to be that guy. He was extremely successful in leading the offense. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in leading the Cowboys to a victory.
If he set up his teammates a few more times as the facilitator on offense, then maybe the Cowboys could have converted on one or two more shots.
Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: B
Forward Le'Bryan Nash also did his part to make up for the loss of Smart, though even his best efforts were not enough to swing the results.
Nash continued his consistency, as he dropped 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the contest. Four of his 10 rebounds were offensive boards, and his ability to keep possessions alive was crucial to the Cowboys' efforts of keeping the game close.
By his standards, though, he shot poorly. He's converting on 54 percent of his shots on the season, but was 7-14 from the floor against the Sooners. While a good game for most, you can be sure that Nash would love to have a few of those attempts back.
In the end, Nash didn't do anything particularly exciting and continued to perform at the same level he has all season long. That's why he doesn't deserve anything more than a "B."