Manhattan Miracle: Lavender's shot saves Sooners

Oklahoma's Jaison Williams leaves the court after Oklahoma's 69-68 win over Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan. Sophomore guard Drew Lavender, who led the Sooners with a career-high 29 points, drove the length of the court with 4.5 seconds left to hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer. (AP Photo/Lindsey Bauman)

What goes around comes around.

Seven days ago, Oklahoma blew a double-digit lead on the road at Missouri, but thanks Drew Lavender's career-high 29 points the Sooners erased a 16-point deficit for a 69-68 come-from-behind win of their own over Kansas State Saturday in Manhattan.

Lavender, who was benched for the first time in his career before Wednesday's game against Nebraska, led the comeback attempt with 15 second-half points, including the game-winning layup after driving the length of the court with 4.5 seconds left.

"Drew Lavender played like Drew Lavender was capable of playing," said OU head coach Kelvin Sampson on his sophomore point guard. "Drew understands why we get upset at him at times and why we feel like he's not achieving at the highest level, but you saw today what he's capable of doing. He's a tough little kid. When he plays the way he did today he makes us awfully good."

Not to be forgotten about Lavender's second-half herocis was the fact he saved the Sooners in the first half as well. Oklahoma trailed 41-28 at halftime, but it was Lavender who came off the bench to end OU's five-minute scoring drought to start the game with a layup at the 14:46 mark. In fact, Lavender went on to score eight of OU's first 10 points to keep them within striking distance in the first half.

Kansas State went on a quick 3-0 run to begin the second half and extend the lead to 44-28, but OU answered with a 10-0 run of their own to cut the lead to eight with 17:16 left. The Wildcats then pushed the lead back to 52-40 at the 14:48 mark, but a Lavender runner in the lane on Oklahoma's next possession ignited a 15-2 run over the next six minutes that saw the Sooners take their first lead of the game on a David Godbold 3-pointer with 9:24 to go.

Two possessions later, Cartier Martin helped KSU regain the lead with a jumper in the lane, but that would be the Wildcats' last lead of the day. Lavender responded to Martin's bucket with a layup and then a 3-pointer to give OU a 60-56 lead with 6:32 left.

The Wildcats would make one last run and eventually tie the game at 67-67 with 28 seconds to play on a Martin layup. But on the Sooners' next possession, Godbold's errant inbound pass with six seconds left was stolen by KSU guard Clent Stewart at halfcourt. Stewart raced to the goal for what might have been the game-winning layup, but the freshman from Tulsa was blocked and fouled from behind by a hustling Godbold with 4.5 seconds left.

Stewart missed his free throw, but made the second to give the Wildcats a 68-67 lead. However, that's when Lavender took the inbound pass with 4.5 seconds left and took it the length of the court for a driving layup off the backboard at the buzzer to give OU the win.

"You look at last Saturday and then this Saturday," Sampson said. "We could've lost both games. We lost last week and we could've easily lost today. But we also could've won both games.

"I think it shows a lot of character on our kids part to come back from 16 points down. It was just one of those games where we needed to win this game, and the way we won I think will do a lot for our kids confidence."

Once again, it was a tale of two halves for Oklahoma. In the first half, the Sooners shot just 37.5 percent (9-24) from the field. But in the second half, OU hit an amazing 61.5 percent of their shots (16-26) and went 7-for-11 from three-point range.

Most of OU's three-point success has to go to Lavender. The sophomore from Columbus, Ohio was 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. Godbold, who hit back-to-back three's in OU's 15-2 run, was 3-for-4 from three-point range.

Joining Lavender in double figures was Terrell Everett (16) and Taj Gray (11). Johnnie Gilbert came off the bench to lead the Sooners in rebounds with eight.

With the win, the Sooners maintain sole possession of fourth place in Big 12 play at 8-4 and improved to 19-6 overall. Kansas State falls to 3-9 in conference play and 13-10 overall.

"This team out-competed Kansas State the last 10 minutes of the game," Sampson said. "I thought the first 30 minutes of the game Kansas State out-competed us.

"I feel so badly for Jim Woolridge and his kids because they deserved to win that game too. Jim's done a wonderful job here. His kids played their hearts out today. We were just a little bit better in the last 10 minutes."

Up next for the Sooners is a showdown with No. 2 Kansas Monday night in Norman. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

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