Oklahoma Sooners: Sam Grooms

With Carl Blair's decision to leave the program, Oklahoma is left without a returning backup for starting point guard Sam Grooms.

Spring signee Isaiah Cousins (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) could fit the bill. At 6-foot-4, Cousins could bring excellent size to the position behind Grooms, who is listed at 6-foot-1.

“He’s very good off the dribble, very good at creating for others, he has good size at the point guard spot,” OU coach Lon Kruger said recently. “Sam is the only point guard we have returning so it’s good he can step in and play there.”

Cousins picked OU over offers from Virginia Tech, Xavier, Dayton and Rhode Island. He brings the versatility to play point guard and shooting guard. The Sooners already have Steven Pledger returning at shooting guard along with incoming freshmen Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak at that position, making point guard a perfect fit for Cousins.

[+] EnlargeLon Kruger
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiOklahoma coach Lon Kruger is excited about his new point guard Isaiah Cousins
Carl Blair, Grooms’ backup last season, elected to leave the program after his junior season and is likely headed to Prairie View A&M.

Two-sport standouts?

Incoming freshman football players Gary Simon and Charles Tapper didn’t leave their excellence on the football field during their prep careers. Both Oklahoma signees were standouts on the basketball court after spending the fall on the gridiron.

Tapper starred as a power forward for Baltimore City College High School and spent a portion of his career playing AAU basketball alongside Aquille Carr on the Baltimore Elite AAU team.

Simon was named player of the year while averaging 18.4 points per game for St. Petersburg (Fla.) Gibbs as a senior. He’s said he would like to play basketball at OU.

Sooners basketball coach Lon Kruger would welcome the duo with open arms but is uncertain if either player will join his squad this season.

“[We’re] not sure,” Kruger said when asked if they would join his squad after football. “We heard a couple of them had interest in coming out and if that works out, great. We love people that play more than one sport.”

Greener pastures?

More than 400 players have elected to transfer since the end of the college basketball season in early April.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger isn’t too surprised by all of the transfers nationwide.

“I think it’s a statement on society in general,” Kruger said. “If you look at young people, they’re changing summer AAU teams all the time. It used to be that freshmen go in, and it’s going to be a matter of time, they pay their dues.

“Kids don’t think like that today. They go in right now and if they aren’t playing the role they want to, they’ll go somewhere else to play that role. Often times I think it’s a reflection of young people not making a decision on a college for all the right reasons.”
Immediate impact of Ryan Spangler's addition to Oklahoma’s mens basketball program is easy to see:

The Sooners have one more scholarship player on campus heading into 2013-14.

[+] EnlargeRyan Spangler
Robert Johnson/Icon SMIRyan Spangler will be able to contribute for the Sooners in the 2013-2014 season.
While that sounds like a simple analysis, one glance at OU’s roster shows the observation goes much deeper. The Sooners ended the season with six scholarship juniors including forward Romero Osby, guard Steven Pledger and guard Sam Grooms.

In other words, OU’s roster will be gutted after the 2012-13 season.

And Spangler, who chose to leave Gonzaga after one season and will be a sophomore, will be poised to step right in and become a core member of the 2013-14 squad. A former Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year from Bridge Creek, Okla., Spangler averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 22 games for Gonzaga but wanted to play closer to home.

"It's always extra special to have in-state guys as part of the OU program," said Kruger, "Although Ryan enjoyed his time at Gonzaga we're especially pleased that he's returning home to be a Sooner. He's a very natural rebounder, a tough guy on the boards and has an ability to score inside and outside. Ryan's work ethic will allow him to make great strides during his redshirt season."

Spangler is likely to join Amath M'Baye, Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal as the foundation of the 2013-14 team after he sits out this season. Incoming freshman Buddy Hield, Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins will also be battling to contribute. Spangler joins fellow 2012 spring signee D.J. Bennett">D.J. Bennett as the lone post players amongst that group.

At 6-foot-8, 232 pounds, Spangler is a versatile big man who should earn significant playing time immediately and become a core member of OU’s post rotation. He’s an efficient scorer who can shoot and prefers to face up and use his athleticism against defenders.

Having Spangler spending a season learning Kruger’s expectations cannot be overlooked. And having another 6-foot-8 post player already in the fold will change Kruger’s recruiting approach. While OU will still need to recruit additional size, the need is lessened by Spangler’s (and Bennett’s) presence.

Overall, the addition of Spangler to the Sooners’ roster is a great development for OU. He’ll help immediately as a sophomore in 2013-14 and don’t be surprised if he develops into a double-double player (double figure points and rebounds) during his career in crimson and cream.
Oklahoma point guard Sam Grooms had a solid first season in crimson and cream. He led the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.85) and finished second in assists (5.97 assists per game).

But the senior-to-be has plenty of work to do to insert his name among the nation’s top point guards. As Big 12 play progressed, teams began backing off Grooms, daring him to shoot from the perimeter.

“Sam has to spend a ton of time shooting,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “You have to make shots, otherwise you’re playing five-on-four all the time. That’s not healthy for the other guys.”

Kruger also would like to see Grooms make progress as a leader and be able to forget mistakes immediately after they occur so they don’t impact the next play.

“He carries those mistakes a little too long, he’s got to play the next play,” Kruger said. “He’s a great kid, a mistake bothers him so much. It’s a good quality to have but not necessarily at point guard in the middle of a game.”

Oklahoma’s season ended with a thud on Wednesday night.

The Sooners suffered a 62-53 loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., after defeating the same Aggies squad just five days earlier. It is the third-straight losing season for OU, who finished 15-16 overall and 5-13 in Big 12 regular season play.

OU’s leading scorer Steven Pledger was held to six points, his lowest point total since Feb. 18 and just the third time he didn’t score in double figures since Jan. 9. He finished 2-of-8 from the field including 0-of-4 from the three point line but did have three assists.

Player of the Game: Romero Osby. The junior scored 17 points on just six shots. He was 9 of 12 from the free throw line, so he was involved in the offensive attack and he did a good job handling the Aggies increased defensive attention on him after his career-high 24-point outburst against A&M on March 3.

Unsung Hero: Sam Grooms. The junior point guard was the only other Sooner in double figures with 13 points. He was 5 of 12 from the field with four assists and four turnovers, an unusual 1:1 assist-turnover ratio for the junior. Grooms sensed his team needed additional scoring, with Cameron Clark and Steven Pledger shooting 4-of-15 combined, so he attacked the basket and managed to keep the Sooners in the game despite their offense sputtering.

Key Stat: 13. The Aggies had 13 offensive rebounds leading to 15 second-chance points. Their offensive rebounding and 88.2 percent shooting from the foul line helped offset their 38.2 percent shooting from the field.

Quotable: “We tied the game up, fought back. Missed two shots and had two turnovers and they converted on both of those possessions and they went back up four. When you miss easy ones around the rim and you turn the ball over, you give Big 12 teams the opportunity to go back the other way and to make plays, they're going to do it.” -- Grooms on the Sooners struggles down the stretch.

“When you don't win a lot of games, as many as you want to, consistency is probably going to be a problem. Whether it be maybe turnovers one night or offensive boards, generally it's a stretch in the ballgame we had difficulty in overcoming.” --Kruger on his team’s struggles to win.

“Generally I thought they played with a certain level of enthusiasm, consistently worked hard every day in practice to get better. I liked that about this group from the start.” -- Kruger on his first season in Norman.

Up Next: The Sooners are goin’ fishin’ ... OU is unlikely to receive an NIT bid and accepting a CBI invitation doesn’t make sense for the Sooners.
It will be a different feeling for Oklahoma. The Sooners enter Wednesday night’s game against Texas A&M knowing they defeated the Aggies in their last meeting. OU battles Texas A&M in the first round of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

The Sooners haven’t faced an opponent they had already beaten since Jan. 28 against Kansas State.

OU takes on the Aggies after a 65-62 win over Texas A&M on March 3, in a game which the Sooners finally made the plays at the end to secure a victory. The season series is tied 1-1 with A&M taking a 81-75 victory over the Sooners on Jan. 21.

Key to OU win: Continued strong play from Cameron Clark. The sophomore has played increasingly better in the Sooners last four games and his athleticism and aggression. When Clark plays well he’s a terrific complement to Steven Pledger and Romero Osby.

Key to A&M win: Quality play by point guard Dash Harris. In the Aggies win over OU, Harris had 14 points six assists. In their loss, he finished with five points, four assists and four turnovers.

Stat line that will tell the tale: OU assists. If the Sooners assist numbers are high, that means Sam Grooms probably won the point guard battle with Harris. If he does, OU’s chances of advancing increase.

Sooners X factor: Andrew Fitzgerald. Romero Osby was a terror against the Aggies on Saturday, scoring a career-high 24 points, so expect Texas A&M to have a plan to slow Osby. That’s where Fitzgerald could step in with his terrific mid-range shooting when Osby attacks the basket.

Aggies X factor: David Loubeau. He’s averaging 15.5 points per game in two meetings with the Sooners and shooting 61 percent from the field. If the Aggies feed him the ball and he continues to score efficiently, it will make Texas A&M much more explosive on offense.
Oklahoma has its eyes on playing in the postseason.

The Sooners could play their way into the NCAA tournament with an improbable undefeated run through the Big 12 tournament. Or OU could earn an NIT berth with a solid showing at the Big 12 tourney, most likely needing to win at least two games for a chance.

Regardless, the Sooners enter the tourney with some momentum, having split their last four games after losing six straight games to begin February. OU has beaten Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in the past two weeks and will face the Aggies for the third time this season on Wednesday in Kansas City. If the Sooners win they would play top-seeded Kansas on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT.

Here are the keys to the Sooners winning at least one game during the Big 12 tournament, thus giving themselves hope of an NIT birth:

(Read full post)

Sam Grooms was beaming, Cameron Clark had a big smile as he headed up the tunnel and Romero Osby stood waiting for a post game interview with a satisfied look on his face.

It’s always good to get a win.

Oklahoma knocked off Texas A&M 65-62 on Saturday afternoon at the Lloyd Noble Center in a game that didn’t mean much in the overall scheme of things. But the Sooners (15-15 overall, 5-13 in Big 12), who were locked in to face the Aggies (13-17, 4-14) again on Wednesday -- win or loss -- earned eighth place in the Big 12 with Saturday’s win.

It was also the Sooners second straight home victory.

OU executed down the stretch, by far the most encouraging aspect of the game, to put away the Aggies after surrendering a 14-point lead in the second half.

Player of the Game: Osby. The junior has his best offensive game of the season with a career-high 24 points on 11 of 15 shooting. He was aggressive and unstoppable inside as the Sooners scored 28 points in the paint.

Unsung Hero: Grooms. The junior point guard has quietly become one of the conference’s most consistent players. He finished with seven points and seven assists with just two turnovers. More importantly, he scored or assisted on OU’s final 12 points.

“I was tired of games being close [then losing] and me not doing anything about it,” Grooms said. “And I was tired of hearing Coach (Lon Kruger) saying something to me about it.

“So, I made up my mind I’m going to try to do what ever I need to do to get a win.”

Key Stat: 81.3. The Sooners shot 13 of 16 from the free throw line (81.3%) while the Aggies were 6 of 9 (66.7%) from the foul line.

Quotable: “All those games come down to just a play or two that swing the game one direction or another. Those games that we lose, we miss an opportunity or two and the other team scores. The games we win like we did today, we scored and got a stop.” -- OU coach Lon Kruger on winning close games

“Coach is always calm, so when you look at him and he’s showing no emotion, you want to execute for him. It’s stuff we’ve been working on in practice every day and we’re finally starting to get it. It’s hard working in a system you’ve never playing in before and being expected to execute it under pressure, late in a game. And we’re starting to execute now.” --Grooms on OU’s late game execution

“It was a good win for our guys. Obviously the ball game could have gone either way. With A&M, games have always gone down to the wire.” -- Kruger

“The difference was we had a hard time guarding in the post. They got a little bit closer to the basket and were able to score on us.” -- A&M coach Billy Kennedy

Up next: vs. No. 9 seed Texas A&M on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City
Oklahoma’s regular season comes to an end today when the Sooners host Texas A&M at 3 p.m. CT at the Lloyd Noble Center.

OU is looking to avenge arguably its most frustrating loss of the season, an 81-75 overtime setback to the Aggies on Jan. 21. It was one of several times this season when OU had a win within its grasp but couldn’t finish it off.

The Sooners enter March (14-15 overall, 4-13 in Big 12) after having won just one game in February while Texas A&M (13-16, 4-13) enters having lost four straight with just one February win of its own.

Key to OU win: Win the free throw battle. The Sooners will need to either keep the Aggies off the free throw line or get to the line themselves. They can’t let Texas A&M shoot twice as many free throws as they do like in the first meeting (22 to 11).

Key to A&M win: Another strong shooting day. The Aggies shot 52.5 percent against OU in the first meeting, helping to offset their 54.5 percent shooting from the free throw line and allowing them to score 21 more than their scoring average (60.9 points per game).

Stat line that will tell the tale: OU steals. If the Sooners can force turnovers that lead to easy baskets, the Aggies will have a tough time keeping up with and scoring enough points to top OU.

Sooners X factor: Tyler Neal. The sophomore has been playing better lately and he had zero points in eight minutes in the first meeting. If he comes in and hits a couple of early shots, he’ll gain confidence that could help him make a difference in the game.

Aggies X factor: Dash Harris. He quietly had a very good game in the first meeting with 16 points, six assists and two steals. If he can win the point guard battle with Sam Grooms, the Aggies hopes of a win increase tremendously.
Oklahoma just doesn’t know how to win close games.

There’s no other way to explain the Sooners 72-64 loss to Texas at the Ervin Center in Austin, Texas, on Saturday night. The Sooners led for most of the game, but crumbled down the stretch as UT outscored OU 10-2 in the final 3:42 of regulation.

The Longhorns didn’t even take the lead until 6:15 remained on the clock.

Player of the Game: Cameron Clark. The sophomore continues to improve his play with a double double. His 12 points and 11 rebounds helped the Sooners lead for the majority of the game.

Unsung Hero: C.J. Washington. Few will notice Washington’s five points and eight rebounds but his aggressiveness and active play in the paint helped the Sooners remain in the game until the end.

Key Stat: 16. The Sooners had more turnovers (16) than assists (10). OU jumped out to an early lead and had zero turnovers as they took a double digit lead, then as the turnovers piled up, the Longhorns erased the lead. Sam Grooms, normally terrific with the ball, had three assists and three turnovers, which was unusual for the junior.

Up Next: OU hosts Texas A&M at Lloyd Noble Center on March 3 at 3 p.m. CT.

Preview: Oklahoma at No. 14 Baylor

February, 25, 2012
2/25/12
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For the first time this month, Oklahoma enters a game with a happy vibe after winning its first contest since Jan. 28 with a 77-64 victory over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

The Sooners hope to carry that winning momentum to Waco, Texas, as they take on No. 14 Baylor Saturday at 12:47 p.m. CT. The Bears have struggled in recent weeks, going 2-3 in their past five games with losses to Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.

Key to OU win: Hitting perimeter shots. If Baylor plays zone like they did in the first meeting, the Sooners can count on Steven Pledger to shoot well (42.9 percent from three-point line) but OU will need Cameron Clark, Carl Blair, Tyler Neal and, most importantly, Sam Grooms to shoot the ball well from the perimeter.

Key to BU win: Limiting the Bears’ open looks from beyond the arc. Perry Jones, Pierre Jackson and Quincy Miller will probably draw most of the attention but Brady Heslip and Anthony Jones can make OU pay if the Sooners leave them open.

Stat line that will tell the tale: Baylor's field goal percentage. Allowing teams to shoot 50 percent or higher has become too commonplace for OU. If they can keep the Bears below 50 percent shooting their chances to win improve significantly because it means the Sooners forced Baylor to take difficult shots.

Sooners X factor: Sam Grooms. Baylor is going to force the OU point guard to make outside shots. If he can do it, it will take the Bears out of their defensive game plan.

Bears X factor: Quincy Miller. The freshman had a subpar game in the first meeting (five points) but he averages 12.0 points per game. He has the size and talent to make a huge impact on Saturday.
Lon Kruger has had plenty of opportunities to lose his cool as Oklahoma has fallen to 3-10 in Big 12 Conference play this season.

Yet the Sooners’ first-year coach has remained unfazed whether his team is playing well or struggling.

“He doesn’t change,” point guard Sam Grooms said. “And you want to play for him because of that. He comes in every day with the same attitude. He wants to work, he wants to get better.”

It’s a sign of the laid-back approach of a veteran coach with NBA experience.

“With the resume he has, you could expect him to go crazy when you’re losing,” said Grooms of Kruger, who coached the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks from 2000-2003. “It’s a little different. He’s laid back, most coaches would go crazy, he doesn’t do that. He sits you down, gives you a dignified speech and expects you to respond.”

And the approach has rubbed off on Grooms, who had this to say when asked about the Sooners’ four-game losing streak.

“You just have to stay even-keeled. You’re going to have highs, you’re going to have lows. You get to low, you might sink, you get to high, you might fly, we’ll be all right.”

A strong second half from Texas sparked the Longhorns' 69-58 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday night at the Lloyd Noble Center. UT outscored the Sooners 41-25 in the final 20 minutes.

Early turnovers by the Sooners and back-to-back three-pointers from J’Covan Brown, followed by another trey from Myck Kabongo sparked a 15-6 run in the first seven minutes of the second half.

Texas improved to 17-9 overall and 7-6 in the Big 12 with the win, while OU dropped to 13-12 and 3-10 in conference play.

Texas Player of the Game: J’Covan Brown. After he didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, Brown was brutally efficient in the second half. He scoring 15 points on 3 of 6 shooting from the field and added two steals in the final 20 minutes.

OU Player of the Game: Cameron Clark. The sophomore quietly had one of his best games of the season. He had 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting and added seven rebounds.

Texas Unsung Hero: Myck Kabongo. Despite three turnovers, the freshman point guard was solid in the second half with 11 points on 3 of 4 shooting and three assists. He finished with 13 points, 7 assists and 5 turnovers.

OU Unsung Hero: Tyler Neal. The sophomore forward has been searching for confidence throughout Big 12 play so his effort against the Longhorns could spark a strong finish to the season. Neal had eight points on 2 of 4 shooting and added four rebounds.

Key Stat: 17. The Longhorns scored 17 of their 41 points in the second half from the free throw line. Brown and Kabongo combined to go 10 of 10 as UT shot 17 of 18 from the line.

Key Stat, Part II: 19. The Longhorns had 19 points off turnovers in the second half as they created eight steals to help take OU out of its rhythm. The Sooners had 3 turnovers at halftime then turned the ball over 10 times as they watched their five-point halftime lead slip disappear in the second half.

Quotable: “I just had to be more aggressive and take the shots that were there.” -- Texas guard J’Covan Brown on his second half scoring.

“If you look at the points off of turnovers, that was huge for us in the second half. Turning those deflections into points was really big.” -- Texas head coach Rick Barnes

“Early in the second half it seemed like there was a possession or two that kind of deflated us a little bit. We just couldn’t get back on top. As a result of that, we played with a little bit less energy the rest of the way. We need to figure out a way to work through that.” -- OU head coach Lon Kruger

“I don’t think it was them. I think it was us being careless with the basketball and not making strong plays, trying to do things we shouldn’t be doing.” -- guard Sam Grooms on OU’s 10 second-half turnovers.
Oklahoma’s surprising 65-47 loss to Texas Tech on Feb. 11 left Sooners forward Romero Osby with a bad taste in his mouth. He has one word to describe the blowout loss to the lone winless team in Big 12 play:

“Embarrassing.”

But it wasn’t just the final score that embarrassed Osby.

“Not just because they were 0-11 but because they competed harder than us,” Osby said. “I felt like we just laid down and accepted it. That’s what really hurts when you look back on it.”

After a decent effort in the first half, the Sooners were outscored 40-25 in the final 20 minutes of the game and looked lifeless for much of the second half.

“To lose like that is embarrassing to me,” Osby said. “And I hope my teammates feel the same way... I’m pretty sure they do.”

First meeting of season

In a strange twist to the Big 12 Conference schedule, Oklahoma faces Texas for the first time with just six conference games remaining. OU has faced Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri and Texas Tech twice in its first 12 conference contests.

It makes preparing for the Longhorns a little bit different for an Sooners squad who has become accustomed to playing teams they are already familiar with.

“It’s kind of like the NCAA Tournament or NIT,” Osby said. “You’ve seen a team on TV all year but you haven’t seen them in person.”

The Sooners have had the chance to see the Longhorns while preparing for other Big 12 teams but they don’t have the familiarity of having been on the same court.

“It’s a little different,” point guard Sam Grooms said. “We’ve seen a lot of film on them but other than that you don’t know a lot about them. You just have to get out there and hope you understand what you saw on film.”

The Sooners travel to Austin, Texas, on Feb. 29 for the second meeting between the two teams.
The Oklahoma men’s basketball team took a step backward on Saturday night.

The Sooners suffered a blowout 65-47 loss to Texas Tech in United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. OU struggled to find any kind of confidence or rhythm on either end of the floor as the Red Raiders went on a 14-3 run in the middle of the second half to earn their first Big 12 Conference victory.

OU committed 16 turnovers and shot 32.7 percent from the field (18 of 55) including 14.3 percent from the three-point line (2 of 14). The Red Raider did a terrific job protecting the ball with just seven turnovers after committing 21 turnovers in their 64-55 loss to the Sooners on Jan. 17.

Player of the Game: Andrew Fitzgerald. Things would have really gotten out of hand if it wasn’t for the junior forward. He was 7 of 16 shooting from the field to lead OU with 14 points.

Unsung Hero: Sam Grooms. Another solid outing for Grooms, who had nine points, eight assists and two turnovers. He was 4 of 10 from the field and had the lone 3-pointer among the Sooners starters.

Key Stat: 2. The Sooners, who average 6.7 steals per game, finished with just two steals on Saturday. OU had just four points off of turnovers after having 22 points off of turnovers in the first meeting.

Up next: Texas on Feb. 14. The Longhorns arrive at the Lloyd Noble Center on Valentine’s Day in the first meeting between the Red River Rivals this season.

Analysis: Mizzou 71, Oklahoma 68

February, 6, 2012
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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.

Quotable
“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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