Dec. 12, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- By overtime, Willie Warren was exhausted. He'd been knocked to the floor nearly a dozen times. His shot wasn't falling and a hostile crowd was on its feet.
But the sophomore guard summoned the will to score on a drive and then hit a 3-pointer for five of his 27 points as Oklahoma defeated Utah 78-73 in overtime Saturday.
"We have been working on toughness. That's our motto this year, and tonight we showed it," Warren said. "We were tired at the end, but we sucked it up and won."
His biggest shot was a 26-foot 3-pointer in OT that beat the shot clock and gave Oklahoma a 74-71 lead.
"I had just passed up a 3-pointer, and the coaches told me I had been practicing way too much not to take the next one that came my way. The defender went under the screen, and I let it fly," Warren said.
Luka Drca, who had 13 points and eight rebounds for Utah (5-5), stole the ball and Warren fouled out trying to slow him on the resulting breakaway. Drca made both free throws, but the Utes did not score again.
Tommy Mason-Griffin, who had a career-best 18 points, finished what Warren started.
"I love those minutes at the end when the game is on the line," the freshman guard said.
Mason-Griffin made two foul shots and then had a steal and another free throw to secure the win for the Sooners, their fifth in a row.
"We wanted to make (Carlon) Brown go left and then when he picked up his dribble, we had our opportunity to knock it away," Mason-Griffin said of the crucial steal.
Brown scored 16 points and hit the shot that sent the game into overtime, an acrobatic reverse layup with 6 seconds left. Warren hustled back to the other end to try and match Brown with a sprawling shot of his own, but he couldn't get it over 7-foot-3 center David Foster.
Brown made two of the Utes' last three baskets in regulation but missed four straight free throws in the final six minutes. Utah finished 14 of 22 from the line after making all four attempts in overtime. The Utes also missed their last 15 3-point attempts.
"It was a disappointing loss," Utah coach Jim Boylen said. "We guarded good enough to win but you've got make free throws in big games, and you've got to make open shots. It's a tough one to swallow."
Tony Crocker had 12 points and 10 rebounds and was one of four Sooners who logged more than 39 minutes.
"We were fatigued at the end but we never gave up," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "With Tiny Gallon in foul trouble all game we had to play guys a lot more than they are used to, but I'm proud of the way we finished."
Jay Watkins scored 13 points, and Foster blocked six shots for Utah, which finished with a school record 13.
The Sooners began the second half with a 12-2 run, and their active zone defense forced the Utes into a barrage of misfires from the perimeter.
Once Utah regained the lead at 50-48 on Jason Washburn's follow shot, Warren took over offensively. Undeterred by a slow start, Warren scored Oklahoma's next 11 points to give the Sooners their biggest advantage of the second half, 59-52. Warren was 7 of 22 from the field after starting 1 of 11 and was 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.
"They were physical and it kind of bothered me at first," Warren said. "I wasn't getting the calls when I took it to the hoop, but I wanted to keep attacking."
Warren missed his first four shots and had two turnovers under heavy defensive pressure. His teammates picked up the slack, and the Sooners jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first four minutes.
Utah battled back with a 17-2 run which was capped by Kim Tillie's layup. Later, Washburn brought the crowd to its feet with a fast-break dunk, and Brown added 3-pointer to give Utah an 11-point lead. The Utes led 42-36 at halftime.