De’Vion Harmon chuckled when asked what he was doing the last time that Oklahoma won at Iowa State.
“I was excited about leaving elementary school and going to middle school,” Harmon said Friday. “That was the most exciting thing.”
Hilton Coliseum has been a basketball graveyard for OU. The Sooners’ last locker-room celebration at Iowa State came in the 2010-11 season when Steven Pledger made seven 3-pointers and scored 38 points in an 82-76 overtime victory.
OU (11-3, 2-0 Big 12) will try to break a nine-year losing streak when it faces the Cyclones at 7 p.m. Saturday.
What makes Ames such a hard place to play?
“It starts with the fact that they’ve had good teams. Then you add a crowd that’s very into it. They are very loyal and fantastic,” said Lon Kruger, who hasn’t won there since taking over as OU coach in 2011. “They are a really energized Iowa State group. The Coliseum is a tough place to win.”
Iowa State has tagged some of the Sooners’ best teams (2016 Final Four) and superstars (Buddy Hield and Trae Young) with defeats.
Saturday’s matchup pairs teams heading in different directions.
The Sooners have won four consecutive games and are in a four-way tie atop the Big 12 with Baylor, TCU and Kansas. Iowa State (7-7, 0-2) has lost three in a row, including 79-53 to KU at home on Wednesday.
Harmon spoke like an upperclassman when looking ahead to the matchup with the Cyclones.
“It doesn’t matter what their record is,” Harmon said. “You are in the Big 12 and how they are playing this season doesn’t matter. You have to go into every game with the mindset that it’s going to be a dogfight. That’s what it’s going to be.”
Kristian Doolittle picked up his first win in Austin when the Sooners beat Texas 72-62 Wednesday. Oklahoma’s lone senior probably has told his younger teammates what to expect in his final trip to Iowa State.
“It’s really loud there. The shape of the gym kind of entraps all the noise where it stays on the court,” Doolittle said. “Their crowd is always into the game regardless of how they are doing, either good or bad. We’re expecting a big turnout.”
Doolittle said he has seen some of the younger players make important turns during their first season.
“They are not playing as wide-eyed as they once were. The jitters are definitely gone,” Doolittle said. “It was easy to see at the beginning of the season when you come in playing timid, but I feel like everyone has gotten their bearings. They understand what their role is or what their job is. They come in and play hard and basically continue the momentum.”
Harmon won’t use being a freshman an excuse.
“I don’t look at it as being a freshman. It’s still basketball. I’ve been playing basketball for a long time,” Harmon said. “There’s nothing really different. I’ve approached it the same way and with the same attitude. I’m just trying to be better in the areas where I fall kind of short of. People can say he’s 18, he’s a freshman, they are young.
“It’s just basketball at the end of the day.”