By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
TULSA — The shots weren’t falling and Oklahoma was getting beaten to loose balls and rebounds for the first 30 minutes.
The Sooners saved their best 10 minutes for the last 10 minutes, and it was enough to top Oral Roberts 63-62 Wednesday night at the Mabee Center.
The game came down to the last 7 seconds. Oral Roberts’ Shawn Glover shot a 15-footer from the corner over OU guard Je’lon Hornbeak. The ball clanked off the rim and OU’s Romero Osby outwrestled the Golden Eagles’ Steven Round-tree for the ball with 1.4 seconds left.
That sealed the victory for the Sooners (5-1) and capped a come-from-behind victory that didn’t look like it would materialize earlier in the second half.
The Golden Eagles (3-4) led throughout the game and were up by 10 with 9 minutes to play.
“We came out and were lackadaisical in the first half and didn’t play like we should, and for a stretch in the second half, we didn’t play like we should,” Osby said. “We just kept battling.”
The Sooners were fighting against themselves as much as anything. They missed their first 10 3-point attempts and allowed Golden Eagle guard Warren Niles to get off to a hot start.
Niles scored 12 of his 21 points in the first half to help ORU grab an early lead.
“ORU did what they wanted to do in the first half, especially offensively,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “They shot it for a great percentage. We didn’t offer much resistance there.”
Glover added 17 points, and Steven Roundtree tossed in 14 along with eight rebounds.
The Sooners were playing their fourth game in the last six days, going back to last weekend’s Old Spice Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
OU looked like a tired team when Glover hit a jumper that handed the Golden Eagles a 54-44 lead.
For whatever reason, that seemed to ignite the Sooners. They went on a 15-4 run over the next 6 minutes. Steven Pledger nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to give OU its first lead since the opening minutes with 3:40 to go.
“I think this team has a great ability to show up in the clutch,” said OU forward Amath M’Baye, who led the team with 12 points and nine rebounds. “It’s the second game in a row where we were able to close it out in the end.”
The last time was Sunday against West Virginia. The Sooners played with the lead most of that game. It was different Wednesday.
The Golden Eagles (3-4) knew it.
“We had the game under control for about 35 minutes and let it slip away,” Niles said.
Oral Roberts’ last lead came on a jumper from Glover with 3:22 to go. Osby, who added 11 points, answered with a pair of free throws to give OU back the lead, and Pledger hit a jumper with 1:16 left to put OU up by three.
That was the Sooners’ last basket. They hung on for dear life in the final minute.
Roundtree had a chance to tie after hitting a layup and drawing a foul on Isaiah Cousins with 19 seconds left. Roundtree missed the free throw, but Glover got the rebound. The Golden Eagles had the shot to win it.
At crunch time, the Sooners made every play they had to.
“We’re fortunate to be able to learn a lot from this ballgame and still have it be in the right column,” Kruger said.
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