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Elijah Harkless helps Oklahoma hold off Kansas State

Sportsnaut
Dec 11, 2021; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners head coach Porter Moser yells towards his players on the floor during the first half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at BOK Center. Oklahoma won 88-66. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2021; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Porter Moser yells towards his players on the floor during the first half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at BOK Center. Oklahoma won 88-66. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Harkless scored 21 points to lead Oklahoma to a 71-69 win over Kansas State on Saturday in Norman, Okla.

The Sooners had led since the game’s first basket until Ismael Massoud’s 3-pointer with 1:03 to play tied it at 65.

After a timeout, the Sooners isolated Harkless with Mike McGuirl. Harkless repeatedly looked for a path to the basket against McGuirl, finally elevating and throwing up a shot as he was fouled. The ball went in to give Oklahoma the lead with 35 seconds left.

Harkless missed his free throw, but Umoja Gibson hit four free throws in the final 20 seconds to help the Sooners (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) put the game away.

Gibson was 7 of 7 from the foul line, while the rest of his team was just 8 of 14. Gibson finished with 19 points as Oklahoma extended its winning streak to four.

Kansas State got back into the game with nine second-half 3-pointers, but both of the Wildcats’ 3-pointers in the final minute missed the mark.

Mark Smith had a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead Kansas State, while Nijel Pack added 17 points and Massoud 13.

Before Massoud’s shot, the Wildcats had cut what had been a 15-point lead down to three four times. But each time, the Sooners responded on the offensive end, keeping Kansas State at bay.

Both teams were missing key players due to COVID-19 protocols. The Sooners were without leading scorer Tanner Groves and key reserves Bijan Cortes and Jacob Groves. Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell was out.

The Wildcats (8-4, 0-1) didn’t hit a field goal until more than five minutes into the game, missing their first three shots and turning the ball over three times as the Sooners scored the game’s first eight points.

Oklahoma built its lead to 15 in the first half after a 10-0 run with a five-minute scoring drought from the Wildcats.

The Sooners led 33-22 at the break, as Kansas State was just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Smith scored half of the Wildcats’ first-half points.

–Field Level Media