The Missouri Tigers were walking into a test of focus after coming off a win against another top 10 opponent in the Kansas Jayhawks. The nation had already been shocked once in let down as the Tigers fell to the Oklahoma St. Cowboys. However, this time around, Mizzou barely passed as Coach Frank Haith made a call most coaches won't.
Up three with under a minute to play, Haith made the call to foul Oklahoma putting them on the line. Of course this is the smart decision as it allows for two points to be scored free of charge with no time coming off the clock while hanging on to a single point lead. Romero Osby misses both tries while Steven Pledger collects the offensive board and fires a three ball that was off target in the closing seconds to send it into overtime.
If there were a check list of things Lon Kruger and his squad needed to do, this would be them.
1) OU had to win the rebounding margin...Check! The Sooners learned from their past mistakes and dominated the glass 31-18 along with 10 second chance boards.
2) Steven Pledger had to find his rhythm...Check! Pledger found his shot from range hitting 5-9 from range which helped to spread the floor. He would finish with a team high 22 points.
3) The supporting cast had to contribute...Check! Sam Grooms stepped up in a big way dishing out 10 dimes to go along with 17 points. While Grooms is not a "normal" scoring option, he protects the ball and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. Andrew Fitzgerald hit the double digit mark with 12 points. Now, if you remember correctly, I said the Big 3 would have to all hit double digits for Oklahoma to keep this one respectable. Romero Osby contributed 9 points, but when Grooms gets it going like he did early, someone will hit a slump.
The one thing that was not accounted for in the preview was free throws, something that was not a concern because the team was shooting 74.6% from the charity stripe. However, if this game had to be summed up in a quick recap, it would be the dismal performance from the line. Oklahoma shot a mere 39.1% in tonight's loss from the stripe after both teams scorched the nets. In a close game, FTs are a major factor and 9-23 just isn't going to cut it.