Neal's shooting, free throws save Sooners

Michael Neal (pictured above) shoots the game-winning free throw with 8.2 seconds left in OU's 83-82 come-from-behind win Saturday in Norman. Neal scored nine points in the final minute to help push the Sooners into sole possession of third place in the Big 12. (AP Photo/Ty Russell)

Norman, Okla. — Once again, Oklahoma sharpshooter Michael Neal put No. 19 Oklahoma on his his back in a miraculous 83-82 come-from-behind win over Iowa State Saturday in Norman.

Neal finished with a career-high 29 points, including three free throws with 8.3 seconds left, that gave his Sooners the lead for good and erase an 11-point second half deficit.

"Thrilling win," said Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "Sometimes you win some, you lose some, you give some away, and sometimes you steal some.

"It was a year ago today where it was the 'Miracle in Manhattan'. Exactly one year ago today when Drew (Lavender) hit that shot in Manhattan, and today was the 'Miracle in Norman'."

Neal, who was 8-for-12 from the 3-point line, scored 17 points in the final 7:20 after the Cyclones had taken a 65-54 lead and nine points in the final minute..

Among his late-game heroics were a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left to cut the lead to 79-75, another 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to cut the lead to 81-80, and then hitting three consecutive free throws after being fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds left.

After Neal's final free throw gave OU an 83-82 lead, Iowa State inbounded the ball to Curtis Stinson, who drove the length of the court into a double-team on the baseline. Stinson broke through the double-team but his fall-away shot failed draw iron as time expired.

"The thing we wanted to do was if he got to the baseline, we had to trap him. We couldn't play him one-on-one," said Sampson on his defensive strategy on the final play of the game.

Not to be overshadowed by the play of Neal, was the performance by senior guard Terrell Everett. Everett, who led the Sooners with 37 minutes, scored 18 points and dished 11 assists.

Back to Neal, the junior from Mesquite, Texas has now led the Sooners in scoring in their last three games. In that span, he is averaging 24.3 points a game and has made 21 3-pointers.

For the game, the Sooners shot 53.8 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from 3-point range. They also outrebounded the Cyclones 31-24 and made a season-high 13 3-pointers.

Iowa State was also hot, shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from 3-point range. Stinson and fellow guard Will Blalock combined for 46 points and 16 assists.

"I told Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock that their team deserved to win that game today because I thought they outplayed us for 39 minutes," Sampson said. "But give our kids credit for never quiting, never dying and hanging in there and playing tough. I think there's a lot be said about that."

With today's win and Colorado's loss at Kansas State, the Sooners (17-6 overall) moved into sole possession of third place in Big 12 play at 8-4. Iowa State falls to 4-8 in conference action and 14-11 overall.

"We've been on that end of the stick a few times," said Sampson on the Sooners' comeback. "This was a great win and hopefully this will propel us as we head down the stretch."

Oklahoma, now winners in eight of their last 10 games, will head to Lubbock for a showdown with Texas Tech on Big Monday on ESPN. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m.

OU-Iowa State Box Score


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