Sooners fall short in Stillwater, 66-61

Nate Carter (pictured) led the Sooners with a season-high 23 points, but it wasn't enough to beat Oklahoma State Monday night in Stillwater. With the loss, Oklahoma fell to 11-7 overall and 3-3 in Big 12 play. (AP Photo)

When Jeff Capel thinks back to his first trip to Gallagher-Iba Arena, he'll always wonder what might've been.

Capel's Sooners blew a seven-point first half lead and then went cold in the second half shooting just 30 percent in their 66-61 loss Monday night in Stillwater.

Yet despite their shooting struggles and conference-game high 16 turnovers, Oklahoma had a chance to force overtime at the end of regulation.

The Sooners trailed by nine with 6:43 to go in the second half, but fought back and Austin Johnson's potential game-tying 3-pointer skipped off the front of the rim and fell into the hands of OSU walk-on Tyler Hatch, who was fouled and calmly buried both free throws with 4 seconds left to seal the win.

"I thought our guys did some very good things," said Capel. "We put ourselves in a position here to win this game late and I thought we improved as a basketball team. But as anyone knows when you come on the road you really have to mimimize your mistakes.

"We turned it over too much — 16 times — and we allowed their pressure to get to us. Then in the second half, I thought we got a little bit rattled. But I thought we did some good things to come back late in the game and put ourself in a position to win."

The Sooners, who shot 48 percent from the field in the first half, went through a cold spell from behind the 3-point line hitting just three of their 14 attempts in the second half and at one point missing 13-straight.

Oklahoma outrebounded the Cowboys 34-30, but OSU took charge of the game from the foul line hitting 27 of their 38 attempts, while the Sooners only attempted 14 free throws.

"I also thought a big part of the game was 38 free throws to 14," Capel said. "We tried to be aggressive, we tried to go to the basket, but they had 13 more points than us on the free throw line and 24 more attempts.

"You have to give their guys credit. They were aggressive, they went inside. We thought we did too, but it just didn't go our way."

Once again, Nate Carter led the Sooners with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Micheal Neal helped keep the Sooners in the game with 13 first half points, but was shutout in the final 20 minutes.

Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry, who came into the game averaging 40 points a game, were held to just 13 and 12 points respectively. But OSU point guard Byron Eaton scored a season-high 17 points and and David Monds added 11 to pick up the slack.

Despite the loss, Capel saw improvement in his teams' play.

"We didn't shoot the ball well in the second half, and still with all of that we still put ourself in a position to win," Capel said." "I think we grew, I think we got better today. Hopefully we can use this as we move forward."

With the loss, OU falls to 11-7 overall and 3-3 in Big 12 play, while OSU improved to 17-3 overall and 3-2 in conference action.

The Sooners will face another tough road test this Saturday when they travel to College Station to faced sixth-ranked Texas A&M (16-2).

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