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No. 11 Oklahoma, streaking Iowa State open Big 12 play

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Through their non-conference schedules, Oklahoma and Iowa State have been two of the best in Division I in terms of shooting, margin of victory and defense.

On Saturday, the 11th-ranked Sooners (12-1) and Cyclones (11-2) open Big 12 Conference play in Norman, Okla.

“We keep talking about continuing to defend, continuing to defend and being hard to score against,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said. “It all starts defensively. That’s what happens in this league too. There’s going to be times where you’re going to be locked up offensively, but you better be defending.”

Both teams are in the top 20 nationally in field-goal percentage, with Iowa State shooting 50.4 percent from the field and the Sooners shooting 50.1 percent.

Georgia Tech transfer Jalon Moore has come on strong lately for the Sooners, contributing heavily to Oklahoma’s strong shooting.

He’s coming off a career-high 21 points in Sunday’s win over Monmouth. Over the last four games, Moore is 20 of 30 from the field and is averaging 7.0 rebounds.

“In transition, he’s ridiculous in his effort,” Moser said. “Jalon Moore gets his athleticism into the game so much — running, jumping, defending, energy.”

Otega Oweh leads the Sooners with 15.5 points per game while Javian McCollum is averaging 14.7.

Tamin Lipsey paces the Cyclones with 15.5 points per game while Keshon Gilbert is adding 14.4.

Since dropping back-to-back games in late November, the Cyclones have won six consecutive games.

Saturday’s game will be just Iowa State’s second against a ranked opponent this season, the other a 73-69 loss to then-No. 12 Texas A&M on Nov. 26.

But while the Cyclones haven’t played a particularly strong schedule, they’ve dominated during their current running streak, winning by an average of 30 points per game.

“I feel like we come out every game ready to fight,” Lipsey said. “We come out with a lot of energy the first half and second half. That’s something that’s going to be really important. We’ve been playing with these great atmospheres in the Big 12. I think we are all excited, all ready. Ready to play some really good teams.”

The Cyclones’ strength of schedule will change quickly in conference play.

Saturday’s game is the first of three Iowa State will play against top 12 teams over the first four games of Big 12 play.

“Every possession matters so much more now as we move forward” Cyclones coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “So, an ill-advised shot, not sprinting back on offense, missing a box-out, those can be game-changing, momentum-changing type plays.”

The Sooners are outscoring opponents by 19.3 points per game while Iowa State’s average margin of victory is 27.1.

The defense has fueled both squads, with Oklahoma holding opponents to just 38.6 percent shooting from the floor. The Cyclones have been even better, as opponents are shooting just 37.9 percent against them.

The game is the first of two between the teams this season. They’ll also meet Feb. 28 in Ames, Iowa. They have split their season series each of the last two seasons.

–Field Level Media

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