Analysis: Mizzou 71, Oklahoma 68
February, 6, 2012
By Brandon Chatmon | ESPN.com
NORMAN, Okla. -- Distraught.
That’s the best word to describe the reaction of Steven Pledger after Oklahoma’s 71-68 loss to Missouri at the Lloyd Noble Center on Monday night.
And it wasn’t his potentially game-tying missed 3-pointer as time expired that will make sleep difficult to come by for OU’s leading scorer. It was missed free throws, both by Pledger (1-of-4) and his teammates (9-of-23), that the Sooners guard will remember for the next week.
“I feel like I let my team down,” said Pledger, who was visibly upset during postgame interviews. “Missed free throws, missed some shots I should knock down. I shoot 90 percent from the line, there’s no reason I should be missing free throws. I make free throws, the shot never happens.”
Player of the Game: Pledger was outstanding in the game, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting including 5-of-9 on 3-point attempts. But he had four turnovers to go along with his performance at the free throw line.
Unsung Hero: Sam Grooms. The junior point guard is playing better and better as the season progresses. He had 17 points and 10 assists against the Tigers. Grooms was 7-of-9 shooting from the field as Missouri forced him to prove he could make outside shots and he did.
Key Stat: 28. The Tigers finished with 28 points in the paint even though Missouri rarely feeds the ball inside. Ricardo Ratliffe was active and efficient inside with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting with 10 rebounds.
“We keep telling our guys afterwards, 'Good battle and good work, but we’ve got to keep doing things from a habit standpoint to have more good possessions in a ball game, enough to get over the hump against good basketball teams.’” -- OU coach Lon Kruger
“It is hard to explain because we have shot free throws very well. Certainly Pledge is one of the top shooters in the country. When you play the game long enough, it will happen, unfortunately.” -- Kruger on the Sooners' free throw shooting.
“It was perfect. The play was designed to miss the free throw and get the tip-out and we actually got the tip-out. It was on line; it felt good when it left my hand. It didn’t go in.” -- Pledger on his final miss.
“We talked about not losing and never letting them take the lead. That's a sign of a good team. I think once they made runs, we executed when we needed to make a shot." -- Missouri coach Frank Haith on his team responding to OU runs.
“I had seen the shot clock going down and we hadn't scored in a couple of possessions, and I knew that we needed to get a basket. I was fortunate enough to make the shot." -- guard Marcus Denmon on his key shot late in the game.
Up Next: OU travels to Lubbock, Texas where it will face Texas Tech on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.
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