COLUMBIA, Mo. -- No second-half swoon for Missouri this time.
Thomas Gardner scored 11 of his 18 points in the final 2 minutes of regulation and the overtime, helping Missouri end a five-game losing streak with a
68-65 victory over No. 16 Oklahoma on Saturday.
"We never let their runs splinter us," Gardner said. "In previous games we kind of got down on ourselves but today we stayed together."
Kevin Young's layup with 1:17 left was the go-ahead basket for the Tigers (11-13, 3-7 Big 12), who twice rallied from double-digit deficits in the
second half. Missouri trailed by as many as 14 points before storming back and won despite hitting only one of six free throws in overtime, the one by
Linas Kleiza for a three-point lead with 16 seconds to go.
"You know we're going to make it interesting," coach Quin Snyder said.
But Gardner hit four of his last five shots, three from 3-point range, down the stretch. And Missouri had perhaps its best defensive effort, swarming
shooters in the second half, and outrebounding Oklahoma 35-30 after the Sooners had a nine-rebound advantage in the first half.
"I think they were pressuring our guards out front to make that pass not as easy," Oklahoma forward Kevin Bookout said. "At the beginning of the game
they were laying off, and in the second half they got up in us and kind of threw us off."
In the previous three games, the Tigers had been outscored 146-87 after halftime.
"If we're going to play just one half, it's better off for us to play the second half than the first," Snyder said. "We've been playing well in the
first half and then just letting up.
"We were physical, we rebounded the ball, we did all the dirty work."
Snyder said he called out his players at halftime.
"We deserved it," Kleiza said. "We had some fireworks going down, but it was all good."
Lawrence McKenzie's 3-point attempt from the corner just missed with 2 seconds to go for Oklahoma (17-6, 6-4). The Sooners' only other shot in the
final minute was a long 3-pointer off the backboard by Drew Lavender at the shot clock buzzer with 39 seconds to go.
"You win some, you lose some," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "And some you feel like slipped away. We certainly had every chance to win this
Kleiza had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Missouri, which won for only the second time in 10 games overall. Snyder raised his record against the
Sooners to 3-8.
Jason Conley added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Tigers, and Jason Horton had 10 assists.
Taj Gray had 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for Oklahoma, which has lost four of five. Terrell Everett added 11 points.
"They came out of the locker room breathing fire, and we didn't match their intensity at all," Oklahoma guard Jaison Williams said. "We're known for
playing hard and we just got out-competed."
Missouri outscored Oklahoma 14-4 over the final 5:39 of regulation. Gardner got the last two baskets, a fastbreak layup with 1:47 left and 3-pointer
for the tie with 55 seconds left.
The Tigers missed three shots on the final possession of regulation, a runner by Conley, a tip by Kleiza and an off-balance shot by Kleiza with about
a second left.
Missouri erased an 11-point halftime deficit that grew to 14 points in the first 1:15 of the second half with a 12-0 spurt that produced a 45-44 lead
with 9:06 to go. It was spurred by scrappy defense and a public address announcer that excitedly counted down the Oklahoma lead with each basket.
Oklahoma scored the next 11 points for a 10-point lead with 5:39 to go, holding Missouri to 0-for-4 shooting with two turnovers. But the Sooners were
hanging on at the end of regulation.
The Associated Press News Service
[Edited on 2/12/2005 by Gibbs Baby!!!]