Feb. 6, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)--Willie Warren showed it when he limped his way in for a key layup in the final 2 minutes.
Tommy Mason-Griffin and Cade Davis did, too, in the way they cramped up but came back to help Oklahoma hold off a charge from No. 9 Texas for an 80-71 victory Saturday.
On a day dedicated to Wayman Tisdale, coach Jeff Capel thought it was only right that his players gave their all in memory of the late Sooners star.
"I thought our guys played with the heart that Wayman displayed so much in not just basketball but his life," Capel said.
Mason-Griffin scored 24 points, Davis added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the second double-double of his career and Oklahoma was able to protect its 19-point lead from a Longhorns' charge to win for the 12th straight time at the Lloyd Noble Center.
"We expect for it to be a war like this every time," Davis said. "Being down a few men, it's just been a struggle for us all year, so we know we have to fight even more to get wins."
The Longhorns (19-4, 5-3 Big 12) cut a 19-point, second-half deficit to five in the final 2 minutes but were hampered the whole game by the same free-throw shooting woes that have been an Achilles' heel all season. Texas made just 10 of its 27 foul shots, including 4 of 11 in the second half.
"I have to truly believe that there are junior high school teams that can do better than that. And you know what? I'm not so sure there's not some other teams at a lower level than that," said Longhorns coach Rick Barnes, whose team came in shooting 62 percent at the line and will see that number go down.
"Is it frustrating? It's frustrating because it's been the same every game this year that we've lost. Missed rim shots and free throws. That's been the common theme in our losses."
Freshman Avery Bradley scored 21 points to lead the Longhorns, who have lost four of six since being ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history. Gary Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Damion James scored 12 points while going 4-for-13 from the foul line.
Fans chanted "Traitor" at James during some attempts, referring to his decision to get out of his letter of intent with the Sooners after Capel was hired and switch to their chief rival.
"Just free throws, man. That was big," James said. "Me personally, I work on them so much and to come out here and miss nine free throws, it's unacceptable, being a leader of this team."
Oklahoma (13-9, 4-4) used a 3-point onslaught to build a 19-point lead just after halftime but had to hold on from there.
Warren, Oklahoma's leading scorer, didn't start and played only 16 minutes while continuing to recover from a sprained right ankle that forced him to miss two of the last three games. His only shot came on a drive for a layup with 1:49 left in the game that put the Sooners up 73-65.
Capel said he had ruled Warren out until the sophomore guard approached him before the game and wanted to see what he could do. He called Warren's basket the most crucial one in the game.
"We were just trying to hang on, man. We were tired. We were gassed," said Capel, who improved to 2-6 against Texas. "We knew Willie couldn't go a lot with the ankle. Crock (Tony Crocker) had fouled out at about the 7-minute mark and he had gotten banged up. Tommy was cramping and I had to take him out. Cade started cramping up a little bit.
"And they just kept sending guys in. They just kept sending guys, athletic guys."
Johnson answered Warren's basket with a three-point play, but that's where the Longhorns' rally ended. Texas couldn't capitalize after Mason-Griffin dribbled the ball out of bounds against a trap, and Oklahoma hit seven of eight foul shots to close the game.
After trailing by 19 in the first 2 minutes of the second half, Texas started to make it interesting with a four-point possession when James hit the first of two free throws and Bradley followed his miss with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Bradley would score 10 points as the Longhorns outscored Oklahoma 16-5 over the next 5 1/2 minutes to pull within 60-54 on Jordan Hamilton's free throw with 10:17 remaining.
"In the second half, I felt like defensively we could speed the game up and get a high-possession game. But then on the offensive end, we were playing way too fast," Barnes said. "Guys going down the floor and I don't think any of us have any idea sometimes what somebody's going to do with the ball.
"We just don't settle in and play together and don't follow what we need to do in terms of our scouting report. And you can't say that we're young any more, even the young guys."
The game was dedicated to Tisdale, the school's career scoring leader who died last year after fighting cancer. Tisdale was the first player to earn All-America honors from The Associated Press in his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons and he then went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA for Indiana, Sacramento and Phoenix.
There was a game ball presentation to Tisdale's family by athletic director Joe Castiglione and Toby Keith played a song in tribute to Tisdale at halftime.
After the game, Capel described how he had met a man in Oregon on a recruiting trip last week who Tisdale--also an accomplished jazz musician--had helped to get his first record deal.
"Any time you come across a person like that, you can't help but be changed or touched in some way," Capel said. "I'm just very lucky I had the privilege my first year here to get to know him and become a friend."