Men's Hoops Bows Out In Hard-Fought Loss To Purdue, 66-62

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 18, 2000

March 18, 2000

AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Once again, Purdue needed some late-game heroics. Once again, Jaraan Cornell supplied them, sending the Boilermakers to the final 16 for the third straight year.

Cornell, converting key foul shots and long-range baskets, scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 9:30 as Purdue beat Oklahoma 66-62 on Saturday in the second round of the West Regional.

"We were stale on offense and I just wanted to step up personally and for my team," Cornell said. "After I hit the first 3, I felt my rhythm and the rest fell down."

Purdue has seen Cornell do it before. In the Boilermakers' 62-61 first-round victory, he hit three 3s in the final nine minutes.

"It's like putting in golf," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "You get that first one and then they all start falling. He did the same thing against Dayton the other day."

He didn't do it alone.

Greg McQuay led the sixth-seeded Boilermakers (23-9) with 16 points in a game marked by bruising physical play and relentless man-to-man defense that saw both teams contesting nearly every shot.

"This was an up and down game the entire way, and we were able to pull it out," Keady said. "This is such a sweet feeling right now. We really worked hard for this."

Nolan Johnson led Oklahoma (27-7) with 20 points. Eduardo Najera added 15 points and Hollis Price had 10 for the Sooners, who just missed a second straight trip to the regional semifinals.

But the Sooners especially were hurt by poor perimeter shooting. They were just 2-for-19 from beyond the arc after converting 10 of 21 3-pointers in their first-round rout of Winthrop.

"Purdue did a great job of containing our perimeter guys," Johnson said. "they weren't giving us any easy looks."

Added Najera, whose stellar career ended when he fouled out in the final minute, "I still can't believe we lost tonight. We had the game the whole time. We just didn't play smart enough."

Purdue advances to the West Regional semifinals starting Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M., against either Gonzaga or St. John's, who met later Saturday in the other second-round game at Arizona's McKale Center.

"This team is like a roller coaster," McQuay said. "We do good, then we lay down for a while. We matched up really well with them. It was just a matter of who made the least mistakes."

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson agreed.

"It's a fine, fine, fine line between winning and losing this time of year," Sampson said. "We were a play away from going back to the Sweet 16."

Cornell, who hit three 3s in the last nine minutes of Purdue's 62-61 first-round victory over Dayton, made clutch shots from beyond the arc and at the foul line.

With Purdue trailing 49-44 after consecutive layups by Najera and Victor Avila, Cornell rebounded a miss and put it back for a layup and then drained successive 3-pointers to give Purdue a 52-49 lead with 7:49 remaining.

Oklahoma fought back to go in front 58-56 on Nolan Johnson's tip-in with 1:49 remaining but Greg McQuay dunked off an alley-oop pass.

With 43.7 seconds left, Cornell was fouled on a 3-point try and made all three free throws for a 63-60 lead with 43.7 seconds left.

Price made both ends of a 1-and-1, but Rodney Smith then made three of four free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

Purdue lost its last chance when a pass from Price was deflected into the arms of Smith in the final seconds.

Brian Cardinal, Purdue's leading scorer who was just 3-for-13 on the night from the field, missed his first six shots before beginning the second half with a three-point play, giving the Boilermakers a 31-30 lead.

But Najera shook free for a driving layup and Newton connected from 3-point range, ending Oklahoma's 0-9 drought from beyond the arc.

Despite missing all eight 3-point tries in the first half, Oklahoma took a 30-28 lead, outscoring the Boilermakers 12-5 over the final 3:11.

After Smith hit Purdue's lone 3-pointer of the half, putting the Boilermakers up 23-18, Najera hit a long baseline jumper and Newton, shoved underneath the basket by Jaraan Cornell, made both free throws to trigger the Sooners' burst.

Najera finished the flurry with a breakaway dunk and a short pullup jumper before Purdue closed in again, getting a pair of free throws from Carson Cunningham and layin from Maynard Lewis off an outlet pass from Cunningham.



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