Let the record show that I am a superstitious person. Since the Thursday of the Big 12 Tournament, I have let my goatee grow. It is now a little over two weeks old, and IÌm not shaving it for anything. Yes, it looks terrible, and yes, I am a laughing stock because of it with my friends and family, but IÌve got to do what I can for the team. That being said, the superstitious part of me wants NOTHING to do with the Missouri Tigers. They are due.
Oklahoma, coming off an 88-67 beatdown disguised as a basketball game, has defeated Missouri seven consecutive times dating back to the Ì97 Big 12 Tournament. IÌm scared to death that the Tigers are due to shock us, and there cannot possibly be a worse time than right now. Are they going to do it? No, and hereÌs why.
OU is a team of destiny. When one member struggles, another guy is there to take up the slack. Last night in San Jose, Aaron McGhee was stymied by ArizonaÌs double-team. While he sported a goose egg in points for most of the first half, Hollis Price took the team on his shoulders by going for 22 points disguised as lifelines. Without PriceÌs uncanny shooting, OU would not be alive today.
In the second half, with Hollis in foul trouble, both Aaron McGhee and Ebi Ere played huge, as the Sooners coasted to a 21-point victory. When a team can have people step up like that in tense situations, you know that you have a winner, and these Sooners are winners.
Missouri, ranked No. 2 in the country at one point this season, find themselves in the Elite 8 for the first time since Ì94. The Tigers drummed Miami and Ohio State and outlasted UCLA last for the right to face Oklahoma. They are led by two guys, Clarence Gilbert and Kareem Rush that shoot, shoot some more, and when in doubt, shoot again. If Gilbert and Rush are taking more than half of their teamÌs shots, then Oklahoma will roll. If MissouriÌs dynamic tandem continues its unselfish play, then it could be close.
The ÏXÓ factor for Missouri is sophomore Ricky Paulding. Which Paulding will show up in San Jose on Saturday; the one that single-handedly
kept Missouri in the game against Kansas in Columbia, or the Paulding that puked all over himself at the end of the Texas game at the Hearnes Center? If Paulding #2 is in the house, then OU puts the walk-ons in at the end of the game, if Paulding #1 comes to play then your fingernails will be gone by the time the horn sounds.
IÌm standing by Oklahoma. They are a team of destiny. What started out as a quest to prove the committee wrong has turned into a postseason dedicated to the health of John ÏNedÓ Sampson. Missouri cannot possibly match OklahomaÌs intensity at this point. Look for Ebi Ere, Aaron McGhee and Hollis Price to combine for around 65 points as Oklahoma cuts down San JoseÌs nets and puts Georgia on their minds.
McGhee, OU set to battle Mizzou for Final 4 berth
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