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Just in time

Oklahoma finally finds its offense, wins Big 12 title

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Posted: Sunday March 11, 2001 5:43 PM
Updated: Sunday March 11, 2001 7:09 PM

  Kelvin Sampson Kelvin Sampson's Sooners go into the Big Dance on a five-game winning streak. AP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Stick an asterisk next to the line where it says Oklahoma had the lowest-scoring half in Big 12 tournament history.

The gritty Sooners won anyway.

Recovering from an 18-point deficit and their own record futility, Kelvin Sampson's team held Texas to just three field goals in the second half en route to a 54-45 victory Sunday in a title game filled with wild swings in momentum.

"The first half made me sick," Sampson said. "Texas is good. Our mental toughness had to pick up."

Texas (25-8) lost the lead for good when tournament MVP Nolan Johnson, on a good pass from Kelley Newton, hit a layup and completed a three-point play that put the Sooners up 48-45 with 1:44 left.

"In the first half, we were going with our game plan," Texas guard Darren Kelly said. "And then we got away from that. We got stagnant and thought we should make plays as individuals. I don't think it had anything to do with Oklahoma's pressure at all. It was all about what we did."

Texas, which led 26-8 late in the first half, had no field goals in the final 11 minutes.

The Sooners (26-6), who made 13 of their last 14 free throws while beating Kansas in the semifinals, kept Texas at bay by going 15-of-16 down the stretch to complete the comeback.

"We knew it was going to be a game where baskets are hard to come by," said coach Rick Barnes of Texas, which had won eight in a row. "We weren't strong enough to the ball."

The Sooners were 6-of-28 from the field in the first half, scoring only 14 points. They missed 10 of their first 11 shots before Hollis Price connected on a 3-pointer, then missed their next nine shots.

Fifteen seconds later, Maurice Evans made a 3-pointer that gave Texas a 26-8 lead.

Then the Sooners started their comeback with baskets by Johnson, Newton and Daryan Selvy in a 6-0 run that had them trailing only 26-14 at halftime.

"The momentum changed to us the last minute of the first half," Price said. "We got some stops and then we got some shots down."

Price drilled a 3-pointer, and Johnson stole a pass and drove in for a dunk as the Sooners outscored the Longhorns 7-0 to start the second half. Texas was without a field goal until Evans hit a 3-pointer four minutes into the second half.

After Johnson's layup sliced the Texas lead to 32-31, Selvey stole a pass and drove in for a behind-the-back dunk that gave the Sooners their first lead and brought the pro-Oklahoma crowd roaring to its feet.

Chris Owens hit a 10-foot jumper for the Longhorns' third field goal of the half with 3:28 left, tying it 45-all.

Oklahoma got 12 points each from Selvy and Price.

Owens had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, tying Chris Mihm's school season record of 90.


 
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