Cyclones travel to Norman for top 25 matchup


Photo:Yi Yuan/Iowa State Daily

Guard Lauren Mansfield dribbles down the court and attempts to pass by Oklahoma State players on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at Hilton Coliseum.

Dan Tracy

With a three-game win streak in Big 12 play under their belt, the No. 22 Cyclones will hit the road to face No. 13 Oklahoma in Norman. The Sooners (16-5, 6-2 Big 12) are two nights removed from their worst loss of the season, a 92-70 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Baylor.

“Oklahoma is a very good team and they’re coming off a bad loss last night, so I’m sure practice there is going to be a little different than practice here today,” said coach Bill Fennelly on Thursday.

The Cyclones (16-5, 4-3 Big 12) were in a similar situation heading into last season’s matchup as they came into the game on a three-game win streak and ranked No. 18 against the No. 12 Sooners. Thanks to 15 points apiece from Kelsey Bolte and Anna Prins and a 34.6 percent shooting performance from the Sooners, Iowa State walked out of Hilton Coliseum with a 63-56 win.

This season, the Sooners boast a three-headed scoring threat that includes senior guard Danielle Robinson, who Fennelly believes is the best point guard in the nation.

“We don’t have anyone, I don’t think anyone has anyone who can say I can literally keep in front of her the whole time,” Fennelly said.

Robinson, the Big 12’s active leading scorer, leads the Sooners at 19.5 points per game and is also one of the Big 12’s most efficient free-throw shooters, making 85 percent or above in each of her last three seasons.

ISU sophomore point guard Lauren Mansfield hasn’t played against Robinson in the Big 12 but did see Robinson at the World University Games two summers ago when the U.S. defeated Mansfield’s Australia team 81-66 in a 2009 semifinal game.

“Her athleticism really kind of killed us, she was aggressive toward the basket and a very aggressive defender as well,” Mansfield said.

Aiding Robinson in the Sooners’ backcourt are sophomore guard Whitney Hand and standout freshman guard Aaryn Ellenberg.

Hand, who missed all but five games last season with a torn ACL, was the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year in 2008-2009. In August, Hand damaged her right knee again during rehabilitation and sat out the first 12 games of the season. In her first nine games back in the Sooners’ lineup, she has averaged 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Ellenberg has shined in her first collegiate season, averaging 17.6 points per game and leading the Big 12 with three 3-pointers made per game. On an off night for Robinson, Ellenberg can put up points in bunches as evidenced by her 34-point outburst in a 95-84 loss to Ohio State on Dec. 5.

“When you have Danielle Robinson coming at you at 9,000 miles an hour and you have two people on the wing just waiting for a kick for an open three, it’s hard to guard, you have to figure out which one you’re going to give up,” Fennelly said.

The game is set for a 12:30 p.m. tip at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.