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NCAA Men's Basketball Scoreboard: Recap
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Oklahoma 81, Missouri 75
Posted: Saturday March 23, 2002 11:10 PM
Missouri
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Oklahoma
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SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- Aaron McGhee demonstrated his value, and Oklahoma is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1988.

McGhee scored nine of his 15 points in the final five minutes as the second-seeded Sooners recorded their 12th straight win, a difficult 81-75 victory over No. 12 Missouri in the West Region final.

McGhee picked up his fourth foul with 18:26 remaining and teammate Jabahri Brown picked up his fourth a couple minutes later. With the Sooners top two big men out, the Tigers (24-12) took advantage and pulled within 54-53 on a free throw by Rickey Paulding with 10:43 left.

Oklahoma had a 63-58 lead when McGhee returned and scored with five minutes to go. He added three free throws over the next 77 seconds, but a 3-pointer by Kareem Rush cut the Tigers' deficit to 70-67 with 2:42 remaining.

The Sooners (31-4) went to a pick-and-roll and McGhee drained a huge 3-pointer 28 seconds later. The lead was at least four points the rest of the way.

"It was tough, especially for me having to sit and watch the game," McGhee said. "When I got back in the game, I just wanted to help my team win the best way possible." "These kids are great leaders," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "They embody what this program is about." Oklahoma faces South Region champion Indiana next weekend in Atlanta. The Sooners' last Final Four appearance ended with a loss to Kansas in the 1988 championship game, and the Jayhawks again are alive on the opposite side of the bracket.

Paulding scored 22 points to lead Missouri, which has lost nine straight games to its Big 12 Conference rival. The Tigers hurt themselves from the free-throw line, going 20-of-34. Arthur Johnson was the worst offender, making 1-of-8 foul shots.

"We missed a few foul shots, we missed a few jump shots," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought our effort was superb. There is no shame in what we did today." Hollis Price scored 18 points to lead Oklahoma and was named the region's Most Valuable Player. Ebi Ere helped pick up the slack for McGhee with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

Rush made two free throws that gave Missouri a 32-31 lead with 2:44 remaining in the first half, but Oklahoma closed with a 10-1 spurt. Price drilled a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sooners some momentum.

Oklahoma was ahead, 51-43, when Brown picked up his fourth foul. Sampson argued and was whistled for a technical, and Rush made the two free throws to trigger a 10-3 run for the Tigers.

Rush also picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half and had to go to the bench. Quannas White made a jumper and Ere added a 3-pointer for a 61-54 lead with just over eight minutes left.

"I'm just so happy for them," Sampson said of reaching the Final Four. "They get to do something that few people get to do." Rush netted 17 points on just 10 shots but received little help from Missouri's third guard, Clarence Gilbert, who once made 12 3-pointers in a game. Gilbert had a horrific ending to his career, making 1-of-16 shots, including 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.

"It was just a bad shooting night," Gilbert said. "We still had opportunities to win, but we just didn't get it done tonight." "It was painful to watch that happen to Clarence," Snyder added. "You just felt for him because you know what he is capable of doing. He wanted it so bad." While Missouri struggled at the line, the Sooners took advantage of their opportunities, making 24-of-32 as White went 6-of-6.

The physical game featured 53 fouls, including 27 by Missouri.

The Tigers' frustration near the finish was epitomized by an intentional foul by Rush with 36 seconds left.

"I don't think it was an ugly win," Price said. "We scored 81 points. The ugly thing about it was that we had so many fouls." .

 


 
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