Cortes delivers, leads OU past Iowa State
You start to develop a feel of the substitution patterns with Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser. You know who needs a blow and when it’s going to happen.
What you’re asking from the bench is to just provide whatever you can in that spurt. Well, that spurt became the final 9:11 of the game for freshman guard Bijan Cortes.
And boy was it necessary. Cortes helped spark a bench-led run for the Sooners in taking down No. 11 Iowa State 79-66 on Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
Initially in to give Jordan Goldwire a breather, it was all on display by Cortes, showcasing his passing ability time and time again.
Cortes’ line isn’t gonna blow anybody away. But if you were there, you know those four points, five assists and three rebounds all in the final 9:11 of the game were integral in the Sooners earning another conference victory.
“What he did was he got the ball moving side to side,” head coach Porter Moser said. “He got it out of their trap. He got it moving. He went downhill and didn’t over-penetrate. He drew a crowd and kicked it. He drew a crowd and hit a cutter. He’s got such vision and that’s what we weren’t doing.
“We were hitting, getting out of it and taking a bad shot. I thought he did a great job of having a great pace to it. He got the ball out of their trap and then when he did go downhill, he drew a crowd and hit cutters. He just got the ball popping.”
The Sooners were already clawing their way back into things. Trailing 47-36 early in the second half, it was 57-54 for the Cyclones when Cortes, Jacob Groves and C.J. Noland all re-entered the game.
OU ended up hitting its final nine shots from the field and ended the game on an 18-5 run to give ISU just its second loss of the season.
Moser has stressed all season about needing the bench. When you get into conference play, it can’t just be the starting five.
Cortes made sure it was some of the bench guys. Three of those assists came on buckets for Jacob Groves (2) and one beautiful dish and finish by Noland.
“I think that, just as guys coming off the bench, we're meant to come in there and bring some energy to the game and have a little bit of a spark,” Groves said. “Bijan was able to come in and have five assists in some limited minutes, which is pretty unbelievable.
“It's so fun playing with a point guard like that who sees the floor the way he does and makes the passes that he makes. He's not scared. As a freshman especially, he made some big-time plays today. That was awesome to see.”
Groves finished with nine points and three rebounds.
Moser wasn’t all about holding serve, but it was imperative. On a day where Texas Tech won vs. Kansas and Oklahoma State took down Texas, preserving home court is massive in this conference.
And with OU going on the road twice next week, you didn’t want to stare a 1-2 conference record heading into Austin and Fort Worth.
“I did see that Oklahoma State had won, but I didn't even see the end of the Texas Tech, I was in game mode so I didn't know that until you just said it,” Moser said. “So I don't really thing about holding serve, I was just thinking about what do we got to do Iowa (State) this game.
“Now that it's over, hell yeah I'm glad that we held serve. But I don't even think like that before the game. I'm just totally locked in on the game plan and what we've got to do on both ends of the floor to win.”
Notes and observations
*That’s the kind of game OU will use from Mo Gibson every single time. It’s nice he made two 3-pointers, but when he can be dynamic in other ways, the team tends to succeed.
Gibson finished with 20 points, including going 10-for-10 from the free throw line. The more he can excel not shooting from deep, the more opposing defenses have to worry about him.
“I thought Mo had a really nice second half,” Moser said. “He made some shots. He shot-faked and hit that little pull-up in our run. He got one to the rim on the run. He did some different things. He just didn’t launch if they were flying. He did a couple things off the dribble. Mo’s game off the dribble is really starting to be a factor for us.”
*OU was coming off a game where Baylor outrebounded it 34-16, and OU had zero second-chance points. You knew that wasn’t gonna happen again.
The Sooners had 26-17 advantage vs. ISU on the boards and flipped the script by allowing zero second-chance points to ISU.
Leading the way was Tanner Groves with 16 points and six rebounds.
*OU (12-3 overall, 2-1 in Big 12) is at Texas on Tuesday and at TCU on Saturday. We will say it every single week. Yep, the grind continues.