The Oklahoma Sooner jumped out to a 27-18 first half lead over the Seton Hall Pirates with just under ten minutes left before the break. Shooting 63% from the floor during that stretch, Lon Kruger and his squad looked well on their way to a spot in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Championship game. However, the tides quickly changed as Oklahoma and quickly lost all rhythm as evidenced by the 2-of-11 shooting performance to start the second half.
Seton Hall turned it around without Patrik Auda who reinjured his foot during the contest. The end result manifested itself a double digit lead behind the efforts of Brian Oliver before Sterling Gibbs took over. If there was a breaking point, the Sooners had reached it, yet they continued to press forward.
With 34 seconds remaining in the game, Buddy Hield and his teammates found an impossible task set before them. Trailing by six, the defensive press was on in an attempt to create a few turnovers. Jordan Woodard came up with two steals as Oklahoma closed the gap. In the final moments the Sooners took a 86-85 lead behind two Hield free throws leaving Seton Hall with 9.3 seconds to score.
A last second shot from behind the arc fell short for the Pirates as the Sooners' defense paid dividends leaving the crowd with their money's worth.
At any moment during the second half, the Oklahoma Sooners could have given up and quit. Seton Hall had built a double-digit lead behind solid free throw shooting while protecting the ball. On the other hand, OU seemed out of sync while constantly trying to find a rhythm with desperation runs to the basket. Instead of letting the storm consume them, Oklahoma battled back with grit to regain the lead in the final seconds for a thrilling finish.
Needless to say, this game will be tough to top but there is no quit in this Sooners squad as they stayed together for the entire 40 minutes.
There is no doubt that Lon Kruger likes to play at an up-tempo pace. With that style of play, turnovers are unwanted but also expected. For the first time this season, Oklahoma committed more turnovers (15) than their opponent (14).
Once again, free throw shooting needs to improve specifically from Ryan Spangler. Finding himself at the charity stripe a total of four times, Spangler was unable to capitalize on a single attempt.
Seton Hall Pirates: Without Patrik Auda on the court, someone needed to step up and compliment the play of Sterling Gibbs. While Gibbs finished with 26 points, it was a bench player finding a more prominent role.
Brian Oliver stepped in with the Pirates down and singlehandedly changed the momentum of the game. Shooting nothing but three-pointers, Oliver connected on 5-of-13 attempts and netted 19 total points.
Oklahoma Sooners: Cameron Clark started the game with OU's first two points and never looked back as he used his athleticism and size to pour in a team high 20 points.
Outside of Clark a hat tip must be awarded to Jordan Woodard for creating two turnovers in the final minutes as the Sooners closed the gap. Also, Buddy Hield deserves recognition for the hitting the game tying and game winning free throws.
The Oklahoma Sooners will remain in the Barclays Center to watch the night cap of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic. Their opponent will be the winner of the Virginia Tech Hokies and top ranked Michigan St. Spartans. The game will be played November 23rd at 9:30 PM (EST) on TruTV.