Cold-shooting Sooners can't overcome Utes

Utah's Andrew Bogut and the Utes proved to be too much for the Sooners. Bogut barely got his NCAA-leading 25th double-double of the season, but dished seven assists and blocked two shots in a 67-58 win over Oklahoma Saturday in Tucson. The Sooners, who shot just 31.8 percent from the field and 2-of-19 from 3-point range, finish the season at 25-8. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

Oklahoma's road to the Final Four took the ultimate detour Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Tucson, Ariz.

In all of their efforts to stop Utah 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, the third-seeded Sooners forgot to guard the other four Utes on the court while also having one of their worst shooting peformances of the year in a 67-58 season-ending loss to Utah.

Overall, Oklahoma shot just 31.8 percent (21-of-66) from the field and 10.5 percent (2-of-19) from 3-point range en route to their lowest scoring output of the season. Meanwhile, the Utes were hot from the opening tip and finished at 59 percent (22-of-37) from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range.

"In a game like this it comes down to making shots," said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "Utah made theirs, and we didn't make ours."

Utah jumped on OU early hitting six of their first seven shots, including three 3-pointers. Oklahoma hit their first shot of the game on a driving layup by Terrell Everett, but missed their next seven shots as the Utes built a 16-4 lead with 14:19 to go in the first half.

"They came out and had a great start. Their very first possession, I thought our defense was good then [Marc] Jackson hits that bank shot in off the glass," Sampson said. "Things went south for us for four or five minutes, when the game was 16-4. I'd like to say that I thought we had good shots, a lot of good looks. A lot of shots just stayed on the rim and didn't go down."

The Sooners would fight back and cut the lead to 20-16 with 4:58 to go in the half, but the Utes outscored OU 10-5 down the stretch to lead 30-21 at halftime.

Two Taj Gray free throws 29 seconds into the second half cut Utah's lead to 30-23, but that would be as close as the Sooners would get as the Utes answered with a 14-6 run to take a 44-29 lead with 14:00 left.

Oklahoma would make one last surge, this time using an 8-0 run from the the 12:58 mark to the 10:26 mark that cut the lead to seven, but Utah responded with a 6-0 run of their own that the Sooners would never recover from.

Oklahoma held Bogut to a season-low 10 points, but where the big man from Australia beat the Sooners was with his passing, drawing double-teams from OU defenders and quickly dishing the ball off to cutting Utes for several layups and dunks.

"Sometimes we were a little too quick," said Sampson on double-teaming Bogut, who finished with seven assists. "Andrew Bogut is a special player. His passing ability makes everyone else out there a better player.

"When you rotate too quickly, you don't give your teammates time to rotate over. Utah was a team tough to prepare for in one day because we haven't played anyone like them."

On defense, Bogut clearly intimidated the Sooners with his 7-foot-5 wingspan, blocking two shots and altering several others. The Utah big man aslo recorded 11 rebounds.

Utah sophomore forward Justin Hawkins, who averages just 8.3 points per game, led the Utes with a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Marc Jackson, who came into the game averging just 10 points, scored 17.

Gray led the Sooners with 19 points (15 in the second half) and 15 rebounds, but the story of the night was OU's cold shooting from the floor.

Everett scored 16 points, but was just 6-for-17 from the field. In all, OU's starters were a combined 16-of-49 from the field.

"Our problem was that we didn't convert," Sampson said. "We had a lot of opportunities in transition. We had open shot after open shot and we didn't make them. We'd get a steal or a turnover but we didn't make them play.

"We didn't use what they didn't do well today to hurt them. I told the kids at half time, I can't complain about your shot selection. I don't think we took a bad shot. We usually turn the ball over more than we did today, but we didn't hit our shots."

Nevertheless, Sampson was proud of his team's performance.

"I'm proud of my kids today," said Sampson, whose Sooners finished the season at 25-8. "We got down 16-4, didn't play well or shoot the ball well, but our kids never quit.

"It was one of those days. You'll have them like that. The finality of the NCAA Tournament is that you have to play good. I thought we were good enough to win this game, but Utah played better than we did today."

OU-Utah Box Score


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