Second half collapse costs Oklahoma against Duke

Oklahoma's Taj Gray tries to shoot against Duke's Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph during the second half of the Blue Devils' 78-67 win over the Sooners at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Gray led the Sooners with 18 points and 12 rebounds. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Oklahoma's first half performance against No. 7 Duke couldn't have went any better, but unfortunately the second half couldn't have been worse.

The Sooners (6-2) jumped out to a 39-29 halftime lead, but the Blue Devils (8-0) came out hitting on all cylinders in the second half outscoring OU 49-28 en route to a 78-67 win Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"I don't think you ever come out of game like that and first of all give credit to the other team too," said Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. "Let's face it, they hit some hard-guarded shots.

"Duke's going to come back on you. You're not going to take a 10-point lead on them and stretch it to 20. They're going to come back."

The Blue Devils jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, but Oklahoma quickly came back and led from the 12:07 mark on of the first half behind 12 points from junior forward Taj Gray and 10 by junior guard Terrell Everett.

Gray's layup at the 19:37 mark of the second half gave OU their largest lead at 41-29, but the Blue Devils started chipping away from there with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to cut the lead to 43-39.

Oklahoma would push the lead back to 48-41, but a 9-2 Duke run tied the game at 50-50 with 11:43 left in the game. Everett then responded with two free throws to give OU a 52-50 edge, but that would be the Sooners' last lead as Duke guard J.J. Redick hit a three-pointer to give the Blue Devils the lead at the 11:11 mark. Redick then hit another three on the very next possession to push the lead to four. The Sooners would never get closer.

"I was proud of our effort," Sampson said. "We played toe-to-toe with that team. Duke's a good team, but I don't think we're far off either.

"I love my team," he said. "I think the reason I like my team is because we're going to get a lot better. We'll continue to get better, and this game will help us get better."

In the end, it was Redick, and senior guard Daniel Ewing, who did the Sooners in. The junior guard was just 1-for-8 from the floor in the first half, but his 19 second half points was just too much for OU to keep up with. Redick finished with a game-high 26 points.

"Give him credit for making hard shots. Jaison Williams was up in his grill," Sampson said.

Ewing, a native of Houston, Texas, scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half.

Gray led the Sooners with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Everett finished with 17 despite going 5-for-17 from the field.

"Taj is good. He's a warrior," Sampson said. "He plays hard every possession. We needed to get the ball to Taj a few times in the second half, and we didn't."

Overall, the Blue Devils shot over 60 percent from the floor in the second half and finished at 54 percent (27-50) for the game, while the Sooners finished at just 39 percent (23-59).

Duke forward and Midwest City, Okla. native Shelden Williams scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots.

"I don't know that the program that we have is much into moral victories," Sampson said, despite the fact that his young Sooners led an experienced Duke team for nearly 21 minutes of the game.

"We've got to find a way to win these games. You only get to play X amount, but if you have a chance to win the game you've got to find a way to win it. That's where we've got to be a little smarter, a little tougher. The experience of that will help us down the road."

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