"I am really, really proud of my team," said OU head coach Jeff Capel. "I thought we played our hearts out through a lot of adversity."
Part of that adversity was the first part of the game, as the Tigers leapt out to an early 10-0 lead, but it could have been worse had they capitalized on OU's early mistakes.
OU turned it over seven times in the first six minutes, and the Sooners were 0-for-5 in that span, as they failed to get on the scoreboard until the 14:06 mark in the first half.
However, the problem was
"I think if we would have done the things we would have been capable of doing and did the stuff Coach told us to, we could have bumped the lead up a little bit and could be sitting a little more comfortably," said Missouri sophomore forward Laurence Bowers.
So, even with all the turnovers in that early stretch, the Sooners were able to mount a comeback.
That comeback arose in the next four minutes, a period in which freshmen guards Steven Pledger and Tommy Mason-Griffin and sophomore guard Willie Warren all hit three pointers to go along with a plus-one play by senior forward Ryan Wright.
After OU evened it up at 12, the Tigers used a run of their own to gain a five point advantage at the half, as they led 32-27.
But the Sooners mounted yet another rally, eventually taking their first lead of the game when Pledger buried a trey three minutes into the second half.
"Pledge came in and played like 36, 38 minutes for us and hit some big shots for us,"
From that point on, it was a seesaw contest.
But two free throws by
A couple minutes later, after the two traded baskets, OU never trailed again.
Warren, who finished with a game-high 21, hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal up the victory.
"In this game I tried to pick and choose my spots,"
But equally important in the Sooners' winning cause was junior guard Cade
"We weren't sure if Cade was going to be able to play," Capel said. "I got a call early this morning that he was vomiting, and we've had an illness going around our team. Thank goodness he has some toughness in him, and he wanted to play because he was phenomenal."
Bench players, Pledger and Wright, were crucial as well, as they combined for 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
"I thought Ryan Wright was tremendous off the bench," Capel said. "Steven Pledger playing 38 minutes and making some big plays [was huge]."
Bowers led the Tigers with 15 points and 10 rebounds.