Oklahoma Basketball: Once More Sooners Let One Get Away Late

Oklahoma basketball once again let a double-digit, second-half lead get away and came up on the short end of a 99-94 overtime loss at home on Saturday to a scrappy, never-say-die Memphis team.

Dec 17, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Memphis Tigers guard Markel Crawford (5) drives to the basket against Oklahoma Sooners guard Christian James (3) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis (8-3) did not get its first lead in the game until just 56 seconds remained in regulation. A three-point bulls-eye by Sooner senior Jordan Woodard with 0.4 seconds left in regulation got OU a brief reprieve and sent the game into overtime, but the Tigers took control in the five-minute extra session and held on for a big five-point, come-from-behind road win

Oklahoma came out on fire offensively, at one stage early in the game hitting 13 consecutive shots and shooting over 80 percent from the floor. Memphis wasn’t shooting badly in the early going either, shooting at a 57-percent clip, but still found themselves trailing by as many as 13 points to the Sooners midway through the first half.

The Sooners led by nine, 47-38 at the half and by 11 points midway through the second half, but as has happened too frequently this year, OU was unable to hold off Memphis and close it out over the final 10 minutes of the game.

Memphis outscored Oklahoma 29-18 over the critical final 10 minutes. It took a miracle shot by Woodard in the closing second to prevent the Sooners from losing in regulation.

Three Memphis starters scored 20-plus points in the game and a fourth added 19. The Tigers got 45 points and 25 combined rebounds from the Lawson brothers, Dedric and KJ. Dedric Lawson led all scorers in the game with 26 points.

The Sooners were especially vulnerable down low, giving up 52 points in the paint and multiple dunks late in the contest that enabled Memphis to get easy buckets and get back in the game.

“We gave up a lot of buckets right at the rim, and you can’t afford to do that against a good ball club.” –Sooner head coach Lon Kruger

“We gave up a lot of buckets right at the rim, and you can’t afford to do that against a good ball club,” said Sooner head coach Lon Kruger following the game.

Woodward was the high point man for the Sooners, with 22. Freshman point guard Jordan Shepherd contributed a career-high 18 points in his first start, and sophomore Jamuni McNeace, who saw over 30 minutes of action in place of Khadeem Lattin, who was sidelined with foul trouble for all but nine minutes in the game , added 13 to go along with nine rebounds.

The Sooners, who couldn’t miss to start the game, cooled off to 48-percent shooting overall and were actually out-shot by the Tigers over the full 45 minutes. Memphis was fairly consistent throughout the contest, ending up at 57 percent.

Memphis played only eight players in the game, with four of the Tiger starters logging 40 or more minutes on the floor. Dedric Lawson played 43 of 45 minutes and teammate Jeremiah Martin missed just three minutes in the game.

The Tigers put the game away at the free-throw line. A 61-percent free-throw-shooting team coming into the game, Memphis made 13 of 13 foul shots in the final two minutes and through the overtime session and made 28 of 32 for the game.

Saturday basketball has not been kind to the Sooners over the last two weeks. The last three Saturdays, Oklahoma has lost to Wisconsin, Wichita State and Memphis after holding second-half leads in all three games. Oklahoma has lost three of its last four games, dropping its season record to 6-4, the worst start by the Sooners in their six seasons under Kruger.

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