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Oklahoma basketball: Missouri prevails when Sooners fail at the line

MISSOURI 71, OU 68 -- Fourth-ranked Missouri survives an upset bid due in large part to Oklahoma's poor free throw shooting. The Sooners shoot 39 percent from the line.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: February 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm •  Published: February 6, 2012

— Romero Osby intentionally missed a free throw with 2.5 seconds left that helped Oklahoma get off a potential game-tying basket against the No. 4 team in the country.

But if Osby and the Sooners hadn’t missed a ton of free throws the entire game OU might have upset Missouri on Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

The Tigers escaped with a 71-68 win when Steven Pledger’s 3-pointer clanged off the rim, a shot set up by Andrew Fitzgerald tipping Osby’s missed free throw beyond the arc.

“It was perfect,” Pledger said. “The play was designed to miss the free throw and get the tip-out. And we actually got the tip-out. It was on line. It felt good when it left my hand. It just didn’t go in... But if we make free throws that shot never happens.”

OU entered the game second in the conference in free throw shooting (74.6 percent) but shot a season low 39.1 percent.

The Sooners started the game 0-of-8 at the line. They missed 14 total.

Pledger was shooting close to 90 percent at the line. He had missed only seven free throws all season. Monday night he missed three.

“It’s hard to explain because we’ve shot free throws very well,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “Pledge is one of the tops in the country. You play the game long enough, things like that happen. It seemed (like) it kind of happened with everyone.”

Led by 22 points from Pledger and a double-double from point guard Sam Grooms (17 points, 10 assists), the Sooners owned the lead much of the first half before Missouri went on a 10-0 run — 4-0 to end the first half and 6-0 to open the second half.

The Tigers (22-2) stretched their lead to 10 points. Missouri would never trail again, but Pledger caught fire to help the Sooners draw within 55-52 with 12 minutes left.

After Missouri rebuilt its lead to eight, Carl Blair and Pledger drained back-to-back 3-pointers to help OU close within 66-64 with 3:33 remaining.

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