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Sloppy Sooners Fall On The Road Against Kansas State

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Kansas State's Rodney McGruder (22) drives past OU's Amath M'Baye in Saturday's 69-60 win over the Sooners. (AP Photo) Kansas State's Rodney McGruder (22) drives past OU's Amath M'Baye in Saturday's 69-60 win over the Sooners. (AP Photo)
MANHATTAN, Kansas -

Saturday's game against Kansas State was supposed to be an opportunity for the Oklahoma Sooners to get a much-needed statement win—to help pad an NCAA tournament resume, and boost the confidence of a team that has struggled on the road in Big 12 conference play the past three years.

Instead, the Sooners put on perhaps their worst performance of the season, falling to the No. 16 Wildcats, 69-60.

The Sooners were their own worst enemy, committing 16 turnovers and shooting a very uncharacteristic 7-of-15 from the free throw line. Oklahoma came into the game shooting 75.8 percent from the charity stripe, second in the Big 12.

Amath M'Baye and Romero Osby led the Sooners with 12 points apiece, but it was a struggle for both of them, particularly Osby. The senior picked up two quick fouls after halftime and had to sit for a large chunk of the second half. When he finally reentered the game, he played tentatively, not showing his normal aggression on the offensive end.

Osby entered the game third in the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 84.3 percent, but hit just 2-of-6 attempts for the game.

Steven Pledger had 10 points for the Sooners, while Buddy Hield chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds.

Kansas State was led by Rodney McGruder's 20 points, while Will Spradling had 15. Angel Rodriguez and Shane Southwell had 12 points each.

The Wildcats' biggest advantage in the game came from behind the three-point line, where they hit 10-of-24 attempts. The Wildcats shot just 44 percent from the field for the game compared to the Sooners' 47.2 percent, but OU only hit 3-of-11 attempts from behind the three-point line.

The first half started well for the Sooners, as OU jumped out to a 12-7 after six consecutive points from Andrew Fitzgerald. Turnovers were a problem for OU. The Sooners had five in the early going, and finished the half with 11, which Kansas State turned into 19 points.

Kansas State took a 15-14 lead when Rodriguez picked Osby's pocket and scored on a layup. Je'lon Hornbeak then scored five consecutive points, and Osby capped the rally with a massive dunk off an inbounds pass from Hornbeak.

Then McGruder started getting hot. The senior hit three consecutive three-pointers to give the Wildcats a 30-25 lead. Southwell added another three-pointer shortly after, the Wildcats' seventh of the half, to give Kansas State a 35-27 lead at the break.

After halftime, the Sooners cut the KSU lead to 39-34 on an M'Baye layup, but couldn't take advantage of a cold-shooting Wildcats team. With the Sooners unable to capitalize, the Wildcats went on a 12-3 run to extend the lead to 51-37 with 8:51 remaining.

The Sooners, normally a man-to-man defensive team, switched to a zone defense for much of that time period, and KSU exploited that, eventually forcing OU to switch back to a man defense.

Oklahoma twice cut the deficit to six points, the last time coming on an Osby jumper with 3:18 remaining that made the score 58-52. However, on the next possession, Rodriguez nailed a three-pointer to stretch the lead to nine, and end any other hope for an OU rally.

The Sooners have a quick turnaround Monday night, taking on Texas in Norman at 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma has a lot of basketball left to play this season and can't allow one disappointing loss turn into multiple losses.

Saturday's performance wasn't what the Sooners were hoping for against Kansas State, but it was a learning experience, one Oklahoma will not soon forget.

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