No. 3 Oklahoma Falls At Missouri

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 25, 2003

AP Sports Writer

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Up-and-down Missouri hit a high note against No. 3 Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

Rickey Paulding helped avoid a second-half letdown with eight of his 14 points in a 2:18 span as the Tigers stayed perfect on their home court with a 67-52 victory.

"I think the games we've lost have helped us improve," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "You hope this experience can have the same effect. You find another level of play, you like it, you want to do it again."

Ricky Clemons, playing with a broken left hand, had 13 points and three assists for Missouri (17-7, 8-5 Big 12). The Tigers are 7-6 in their last 13 games and dropped out of the Top 25 last week. But they are 14-0 at the Hearnes Center and pulled away late to end a nine-game losing streak against the Sooners, who shot a season-low 27.3 percent.

Oklahoma (19-5, 10-3) fell to second place in the Big 12, one game behind Kansas.

"What's disappointing to me is that Missouri played like this game was more important to them than it was to us," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "That was very obvious to me. We have to find a way to put this behind us."

Arthur Johnson added 20 points and 11 rebounds and Travon Bryant had 14 points for Missouri.

Snyder had been 0-6 against Oklahoma, and Missouri hadn't beaten the Sooners since the 1997 Big 12 tournament. It was only the Sooners' second loss in their last 11 games.

Fans stormed the court after the buzzer to celebrate the victory.

"It's a great feeling," Paulding said. "This game just shows us that we're a good team. It was up to us to really do it."

Oklahoma was red-hot in its last game against Kansas, leading by as many as 32 points in a 77-70 victory. The Sooners were frustrated by a zone early against Missouri and had a scoring drought of more than eight minutes in the first half, falling behind 30-22.

A 13-0 run that featured six free throws and was capped by a 3-pointer by Hollis Price was the lone shining sequence for the Sooners, giving them a 37-36 lead with 10:40 to go. Paulding responded with two free throws and two 3-pointers for a 46-39 lead with 7:57 left.

Bryant hit a 3-pointer and had a dunk on consecutive possessions to put the Tigers ahead 55-43 with 4:47 to go.

Clemons broke his non-shooting hand in a 21-point loss at Colorado on Saturday and on Monday the school said he would be sidelined indefinitely. After testing the hand with 200 shots after the mid-afternoon walkthrough he played with the hand wrapped to the wrist and the initials "NPNG," standing for "No pain, no gain," etched in marker on the tape.

"It didn't matter, I knew I was going to play," Clemons said. "It's going to always hurt, because it's broken. But I'm going to go out there and give it my all."

Price led Oklahoma with 16 points, and had five rebounds, but was 4-for-12 from the field. Ebi Ere, averaging 14.6 points, was held to five on 1-for-11 shooting. Quannas White, who had 19 points against Kansas, was 2-for-12 and had six points.

"We had shots, we just didn't make them," Price said. "It happens. Missouri is not a pushover, they're a team that can beat anybody in this league. Their record is deceiving because they can play."

Clemons had two 3-pointers during an early 13-0 run that gave Missouri a 20-9 lead. Oklahoma missed eight straight shots before Ere ended a drought of 8:40 with a 3-pointer at the 6:10 mark.

Missouri built its early cushion with minimal contribution from Paulding, the team's leading scorer at 16.7 points per game. Paulding scored on a drive for his first points with 3:09 to go, and had four in the half.



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