Debacle in Columbia: Sampson's Sooners lose in OT

Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson stands in front of his bench Saturday as he watches his team lose in overtime to Missouri, 68-65. Sampson's Sooners blew a 10-point lead with five minutes and 41 seconds left in the game. The loss is the fourth in five games for Oklahoma. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

For Kelvin Sampson and his Oklahoma basketball team, it doesn't get any worse than this.

Sampson's Sooners blew a 13-point second half lead and then a three-point lead in overtime as Missouri snapped a five-game losing streak and dealt Oklahoma their fourth loss in five games with a 68-65 win Saturday in Columbia.

"There's some you win, there's some you lose, and there's just some that slip away from you," said Sampson on the loss. "Every turnover we had went for an easy basket. We couldn't get a rebound. We just couldn't get it done."

To say the Sooners let this one slip away is an understatement. OU not only blew double-digit leads in the second half not once, but twice.

With the game tied at 13-13 on a Taj Gray layup at the 12:56 mark, OU went on a 17-2 run over the next seven minutes to take a 28-15 lead with 6:28 to go in the first half and hang on for a 37-26 halftime edge.

Terrell Everett's bucket to start the second half pushed OU's lead to 13, but four minutes later, trailing 44-33, Thomas Gardner's steal and dunk ignited a 12-0 run that gave the Tigers a 45-44 lead with 9:12 to go.

Oklahoma fought back with an 11-0 run of their own, ingited by a Lawrence McKenzie three-point play and 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions, to re-take a 55-45 lead and seemingly gain control of the game again with 5:41 to go.

However, the Tigers outscored OU 14-4 down the stretch to force overtime. Gardner, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half, hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to tie the game.

The Sooners had a chance to take the lead on their next possession, but Everett missed a jumper in the lane with 35 seconds left. The Tigers also had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but Linas Kleiza's fadeaway jumper after rebounding a Jason Conley shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Oklahoma built 3-point leads twice in overtime, but Gardner had the answer each time with 3-pointers on the following possession to draw the game even. Missouri took the lead for good on a Kevin Young layup with 1:19 to go.

The Tigers would add a free throw by Jimmy McKinney with 35 seconds left to push the lead to three. McKinney missed his second free throw, but Kleiza outmuscled several Sooners for the rebound. Missouri freshman guard Jason Horton was then fouled and missed his first free throw, but Kleiza was on the spot again to get the rebound.

Kleiza was fouled and then went to the line and missed two straight free throws. Oklahoma finally got the rebound this time around with 16 seconds left, but McKenzie's 3-point attempt from the corner to tie the game with six seconds left was no good.

The Sooners, who shot 51.9 percent in the first half, were just 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) in the second half. The Tigers shot just 40.7 percent in the first half, but went 15-for-29 (51 percent) in the second half. Oklahoma was also outrebounded by the Tigers 35-30 and turned the ball over 15 times to Missouri's 11.

Taj Gray led the Sooners with 19 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals. The Tigers were led by Kleiza and Gardner, who finished with 18 points apiece. Kleiza also chipped in a game-high 13 rebounds.

"The first half we went into the locker room and came back out of the locker room and they cut it to nine, but we got it back to 13," said Sampson. "Missouri had a lot of things going their way down the stretch and we just couldn't seem to get anything going."

"We knew coming in that this wasn't going to be an easy game. We felt like if we played well we could win it. We've just got to keep plugging, keep battling and get out of this thing."

Up next for the Sooners is a much-needed home game against Nebraska on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

OU-Missouri Box Score

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