The Norman Transcript


November 23, 2008

Griffin leads men over Gardner-Webb

Oklahoma knew what it was getting into Saturday. It played Gardner-Webb last season in New York, winning a nip-and-tuck game late. The only reason it came to be was the Bulldogs’ stunning upset of Kentucky.

If it had been a history exam at Lloyd Noble Center, the 12th-ranked Sooners would have flunked. They took Gardner-Webb lightly but managed to squeak out a passing grade with an 80-76 victory over the Bulldogs.

OU coach Jeff Capel wasn’t willing to grade the Sooners’ fourth straight win on a curve.

“We feel very fortunate to get this win,” he said. “I thought Gardner-Webb was tremendous. I thought they played with a sense of urgency. They played like a team that was desperate and hungry for a win … We played like a team that thought it just had to show up.”

It was a classic trap game for the Sooners. They were coming off an exhilarating victory over No. 21 Davidson Tuesday night. Gardner-Webb was also a prelude to OU’s semifinal game Wednesday night at the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.

Lucky for OU it had at least one player focused on the immediate task at hand.

Blake Griffin scored 35 points and pulled down 21 rebounds to help the Sooners rally from a five-point deficit with 6 minutes to play. It was the fourth straight game the All-American forward has pulled down at least 18 rebounds.

But his points were about the least he could have scored. OU ignored him for a decent stretch early in the second half that allowed the Bulldogs (0-3) to mount a serious threat.

Griffin scored a basket less than a minute into the second half to put the Sooners up by seven. He didn’t touch the ball for nearly 5 more minutes. By then Gardner-Webb had tied it.

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