OU's Big 12 Streak Halted in Austin
Feb. 21, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas' A.J. Abrams was firing away and knocking down shots while Oklahoma's Blake Griffin sat on the bench in a daze.
The Longhorns' little guy was scoring points in bunches and the Sooners' big man was clouded by a concussion sustained in the first half.
Abrams' burst of 16 straight points over the final 8 minutes and the injury to one of the best players in the country were too much for the No. 2 Sooners to overcome in a 73-68 Texas victory that stopped Oklahoma's 13-game winning streak.
The loss also likely spoiled the Sooners' chance at grabbing their first No. 1 ranking since 1990.
"I feel like with Blake playing it would have been a different game and I feel like with him we would have won," said Oklahoma's freshman guard Willie Warren, who led the Sooners with 27 points.
But Griffin played only 11 minutes, all in the first half, and the Big 12's leading scorer and rebounder finished with two points and three rebounds. It appeared Griffin turned on the baseline to take a shot and ran into the open hand of 300-pound Texas forward Dexter Pittman. He left the game with about 4 minutes left in the half and didn't return.
"Those are two strong guys. When they hit, that's a big enough collision right there," Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
Warren hit six 3-pointers to lead Oklahoma (25-2, 11-1 Big 12). Abrams finished with 23 points and Damion James scored 16 for the Longhorns ( 18-8, 7-5).
Abrams started his run of consecutive points with a 3-pointer that put Texas up 56-50. He finished it with another 3 over two defenders to put the Longhorns up 69-65 with 1:17 to play.
"I talked to him a bit and asked him if he could stop hitting shots to help us out a bit, but he didn't listen," Warren said.
After the Sooners cut the lead to one on Juan Patillo's putback layup, Pittman grabbed an offensive rebound before powering over three Sooners for the basket. Oklahoma's Tony Crocker missed a 3-pointer to tie before Abrams drew a foul and made his two free throws.
Warren, the Big 12's top scoring freshman, did his best to carry the Sooners on the court where he won a Texas state high school championship last season. He was 10 of 20 from the floor and his six assists but it was clear the Sooners missed their leader Griffin.
"He had a great night," Abrams said of Warren. "My mindset isn't to outshoot him, but just to contain him."
Texas came in desperate for a win after losing four of its last six and the game quickly picked up the intensity and physical play of the Longhorns' and Sooners' football rivalry. Griffin knocked down the wispy Abrams just 10 seconds into the game to pick up his first foul.
"Yeah, it was physical down there, there was a lot of contact," James said.
Griffin soon picked up another foul and had already spent about 5 minutes of the half on the bench before he got hurt. He went back to the bench and sat there with a cotton swab stuffed into his left nostril. At halftime, while his teammates ran off the court, Griffin staggered toward the locker room as a trainer held his right arm. He sat on the bench the entire second half.
"I don't know what happened," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said.
It was unclear when Griffin would return. The Sooners play Monday night at home against Kansas. Asked if Griffin wanted to return to the game, Capel said, "He didn't come to me ... this was a decision by the doctors."
After Texas built a 41-29 lead early in the second, Oklahoma stormed back with a 14-0 run and led 43-41 on consecutive baskets by Patillo. Two more 3s by Warren put Oklahoma up 61-56 with 5 minutes to play. Even that came with some drama as Warren collapsed to the floor writhing in pain and trainers ran onto the court to work out cramps in his left calf.
That's when Abrams wrapped it up with the long shots of his own. His third 3 put Texas up 66-64, a lead the Longhorns wouldn't give away.
"You could say this gives us new life," James said. "We really wanted to turn this thing around."