The Sooners led 49-37 with just over five minutes left to play, all that was needed was to flip the switch over to cruise control, the game seemed almost finished, the outcome, inevitable. Unfortunately the switch must have been reversed late, because something unpredictable happened in the final minutes of the game in downtown Cincinnati Thursday. The Sooners defense, which had been nothing short of spectacular the previous 35 minutes, gave up 19 points in the final five and a half minutes, including on in which Cashmere Wright drove the length of the floor for an uncontested, game clinching bucket, in the final minute. The depleted Cincinnati Bearcats, minus Yancy Gates, outscored the Sooners by a total of 13 in the run, going on to capture the shocking victory 56-55.
Aside from the final minutes, the game was highlighted by poor shooting on both ends. The Sooners shot just 38% from the floor as a unit, and the Bearcats an even more pitiable 28%. The advantage for the Bearcats came late at the charity stripe, where they shot 75% compared to just 44% from Oklahoma.
The Sooners also fell victim to Cincy’s full court pressure, which cause 17 Oklahoma miscues on the evening. Though, once again the Sooners managed to outrebound a smaller opponent, something they have done well all season long.
One bright spot for the Sooners tonight however, was Andrew Fitzgerald who scored 18 points on 7-13 shooting, while also contributing nine rebounds. He also added defensive weaponry for the Sooners with two block and a steal, making him the Sooner Player of the Game.
Romero Osby added a dozen boards and just as many points, to record another double-double on the season.
Sam Grooms dished nine assists, though also turned the ball over five times.
To sum things up, did OU blow a game they probably should have won? Absolutely yes. Does that make it a bad loss? Not necessarily. Even though the Bearcats were without their best player in Yancy Gates, they were still a team on nearly everyone’s top 25 ballot in the preseason, and not to mention this was the first true road test the Sooners were faced with this season. Sitting at 9-2 the Sooners will have one more cupcake to get them back on the winning track before conference play, when they face Northwestern State on New Year’s Eve.
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