MEN'S BB: Sooner Setback

A poor first half proved too much for Oklahoma to overcome Saturday as the Sooners were knocked off by Stephen F. Austin, 66-62. The Sooners shot 26.9 percent and scored just 20 points in the first half. Although they improved over the final 20 minutes, it wasn't enough to topple the Lumberjacks.

NORMAN – It was a cold, dreary day in Norman on Saturday.

The conditions outside Lloyd Noble Center weren't too good either.

Stephen F. Austin was supposed to be Oklahoma's final speed bump before the meat of the schedule hits next week. Instead, the Lumberjacks played the role of a roadblock in a 66-62 win over the Sooners.

"They deserved the win and they displayed great passion and determination," OU head coach Jeff Capel said. "They out-everythinged us - they out-coached, out-hustled, out-passioned. Everything. So we give them all the credit."

Oklahoma was lethargic from the start, especially on the offensive end. The Sooners were held to 40 percent shooting (20-of-50), including 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from 3-point range.

Said SFA head coach Danny Kaspar: "I have been noticing that OU has been playing some great defense by watching their box scores and statistics. Most teams have been shooting under 40 percent against them, except for maybe Memphis. But Memphis could compete in the NBA right now. That being said, I think our guys played some pretty good defense, too."

Capel agreed.

"They got after us and we haven't had anyone get after us like that probably since Memphis," Capel said of the SFA defense, which entered the game ranked in the top 20 nationally. "It knocked us back. We couldn't get into anything."

Blake Griffin picked up his second foul just 2:43 into the game and sat out most of the rest of the first half.

Kaspar said that was a factor, but also saw something else in the Sooners.

"It looks like we caught OU a little flat in the first half," he said.

The numbers back him up as the Sooners shot 26.9 percent in the first half and it took 10:45 for Oklahoma to crack double digits on the scoreboard.

After taking an 18-17 lead, Oklahoma surrendered an 8-2 run over the final 3:25 of the half.

Although the Sooners (7-3) were decidedly better offensively, in the second half, it didn't matter.

SFA built a lead as big as nine points and the Sooners could get no closer than 46-45 the rest of the way.

Longar Longar's free throw with 5:07 to play capped a 10-2 Sooner run and pulled his team within that one-point deficit.

That's when the Lumberjack guards brought home the win.

Gerald Fonzie nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Josh Alexander another over the next 3:18 to push their lead back to 55-47.

The Sooners were twice able to get within two points, but the Lumberjacks made 8-of-12 free throws in the final 60 seconds to seal the win.

SFA (7-1) was 19-of-24 from the line for the game.

"We got some steals and some clutch shots from Josh Alexander and Gerald Fonzie," Kaspar said. "We also had some clutch free throw shooting at the end. The final score of 66-62, I don't know what you would consider it. It might be considered an ugly game, but in my eyes it was a beautiful game."

Alexander finished with a game-high 19 points and knocked down four treys. Fonzie was a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 10 while fellow guard Eric Bell scored 12.

On the flip side, Oklahoma's three-guard set of Tony Crocker, Omar Leary and Austin Johnson combined for eight points on 3-of-18 shooting.

Crocker, who scored a combined 46 points in Oklahoma's two previous games, scored four points, all at the free throw line.

"It's tough to win when you don't have good guard play," Capel said. "You look at the last two games prior to this, we won them. You look at our guard play and it was very good. Tonight it wasn't good."

Longar led the team with 19 points, but didn't get going until the second half. David Godbold added 11 and Blake Griffin 10.

Godbold said the Sooners' slow start cost them.

"Everybody was not ready for the game and it showed," he said. "We tried to battle back but there is a hump that we could not get over no matter how hard we tried. They had that edge today and they came out with the victory."

Some excuses were readily available for the Sooners: It was an early game, finals are coming up and the Sooners are looking at a three-game stretch of Arkansas, Gonzaga and West Virginia.

Capel would hear none of it.

"It wasn't anything we didn't do or (anything) about not coming to play or not (being) ready," he said. "They beat us, so give them the credit."

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