Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oh Lucky Day!

On the one year anniversary of Drew Lavender’s last second miracle shot in Manhattan the Sooners pulled victory from the Jaws of defeat once again.

The Iowa State Cyclones led Oklahoma 79-72 with 1:12 left and 81-75 after Curtis Stinson hit two free throws with 53.2 seconds left. But he missed 3-of-4 from the line in the final 41.4 seconds, paving the way for OU’s miracle comeback.

Stinson made one of two free throws with 20.8 seconds left to put Iowa State up 82-80. On the ensuing play, Oklahoma's Terrell Everett was well short on a contested 14-foot jumper. But the loose basketball found its way to Michael Neal, who shot from behind the arc while being fouled by Iowa State's John Neal.

Michael Neal, who scored 17 points in the final 7:02, swished all three free throws to give the Sooners the lead 83-82 which would be the final score.

"Today there was a miracle in Norman," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Today was a great win. Hopefully it will propel us down the stretch. Iowa State deserved to win.”

It’s good to see Oklahoma on the other end of a last second meltdown after losing last second heartbreakers to Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas by a combined four points after leading late in each game. From a confidence standpoint this was a huge win because it was the Sooners on the winning end of a nail biter.

Michael Neal scored a career-high 29 points including eight 3-pointers -- another personal best -- in 12 attempts.

Iowa State’s backcourt of Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock combined for 46 points and 16 rebounds. I said in my game preview that this guard tandem could be dangerous and Coach Sampson seems to agree with me. "We had no answer for Blalock and Stinson," Sampson said. "Iowa State has the two best guards on a single team in the Big 12."

Stinson drove the length of the court in the final seconds but missed an 8-foot underhanded scoop while being guarded by David Godbold. In typical Wayne Morgan fashion there was an excuse for the miss, "I wasn't on the court. From where I sat I thought maybe we should have a chance to shoot free throws. The referees didn't see that."

Oklahoma’s Terrell Everett recorded his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 assists. The Sooners shot 53.8 percent from the field, including 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from 3-point range. Michael Neal has made 42 of his last 74 3-point attempts, 56.8 percent. He is once again my player of the game and should be the Big 12 player of the week.

Taj Gray was the only other player to join Neal and Everett in double digit scoring for the Sooners. Gray had 13 points and 8 rebounds.

My Player of the Game

Michael Neal
29 points
3 rebounds
2 assists
3 steals