Dec. 19, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel says he's tired of trying to figure out mercurial guard Willie Warren.
After barely finding a way to beat Northern Colorado 80-79 on Saturday, he has plenty of other problems to figure out before the Sooners are due back on the court in two days.
"It's absolutely everything. We didn't deserve to win," Capel said. "I feel bad for that Northern Colorado team because they outplayed us and outcoached us and had their guys more ready to play."
Cade Davis scored 25 points and Tony Crocker added 24 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double in the last five games, but the Sooners had to hold off a late surge by Northern Colorado.
After Davis scored 20 points in the first half, Crocker took over in the second half as Oklahoma (8-3) built a double-digit lead. But the Bears nearly dug their way out of a 10-point hole in the final two minutes.
Davis, Crocker and Tommy Mason-Griffin each missed their first free throw in a one-and-one situation as Northern Colorado scored the final seven points of the game. Mike Proctor cut the lead to 80-79 when he put back Devon Beitzel's potential tying 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left.
Beitzel retrieved the ball after Mason-Griffin's missed free throw with 5.6 seconds left, but Davis intercepted his outlet pass to finish the game.
"It wasn't a pretty win. It was ugly, especially towards the end," Davis said.
Beitzel finished with 17 points and Proctor had all 14 of his points in the second half for Northern Colorado (9-3), which has wins against Colorado State, Hawaii and Air Force this season. Taylor Montgomery added 13 points -- all in the first half -- while Will Figures scored 12 and Chris Kaba 10 for the Bears.
Warren, who received honorable mention on the preseason All-America team, had only four points and five turnovers and found himself benched by Capel for the final 23 seconds with the game on the line. Capel said he was "tired of trying to figure him out," and chose not to elaborate when asked for specifics.
"I'm not trying to figure out anything," Capel said before walking out of his postgame news conference. "You figure it out."
The Sooners were playing for the first time in a week after beating Utah in overtime, giving players time to focus on final exams.
"That's an excuse for how we played. Those guys from Northern Colorado had finals and they traveled, and they came out and played their butts off," Capel said. "There are no excuses. That's one of the things I've tried to talk to our guys about. Obviously, I haven't done a good job of trying to teach them of trying to become men."
Capel said his players kept giving him excuses for their poor play as they returned to the huddle in the first half.
"That's how I knew it was going to be a long day," Capel said.
Northern Colorado surged ahead with a 14-2 run late in the first half. Montgomery scored six straight points to get it going, and Beitzel and Figures added 3-pointers to push the lead to 31-24. Neal Kingman's layup pushed the Bears' advantage to 38-27.
"Sometimes when you're Northern Colorado coming in to play Oklahoma, you may not get their best shot," Bears coach Tad Boyle said. "So, we might have woken up a sleeping dog a little bit."
Davis hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to get Oklahoma within two, and Crocker cut the deficit to 40-39 at halftime with his three-point play.
"Cade really saved us in the first half, especially when went on that stretch. ... That really, I think, is probably the reason we won the game, because of that stretch right there," Capel said.
The Sooners went ahead for good when Crocker put back Davis' missed 3-pointer to make it 48-46 early in the second half. Oklahoma grew its lead to 10 but still had to hold off two separate charges by the Bears in the final 11 minutes.
"I think we're a pretty good team," Crocker said. "We've just got a lot of work to do. ... We've just got to do a better job of getting everybody on the right page and making sure everybody focuses and concentrates on everything that we do. Once we start conference, those games are way more intense and the teams are better, so we've got to pick it up."