Claremore Daily Progress

Sports Columnists

March 21, 2012

HORNING: Sooners saved their best game for very last

NORMAN —  St. John’s is a No. 3 seed. It closed the regular season and Big East tournament winning nine of 10 games before finding its way to Norman.

Along the way, prior to Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center, the last three times it played on its opponent’s home court, it beat No. 23 Rutgers by nine points, No. 3 Connecticut by a point and No. 17 Georgetown by 10 points.

There is a thought: What on earth was Oklahoma even doing hanging with the Red Storm, trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the ninth time in 13 seasons?

How did the Sooners play their two best games of the season their last two games of the season? They missed their last three shots in one final 5-second flurry and still shot 47.9 percent, for crying out loud.

And lost 74-70.

There’s that, too.

They played inspired basketball in front of 4,789 fans on their home court, the best crowd of the season in volume rather than numbers.

The Sooners did all of this after losing six of their last 10 games coming into the NCAA tournament.

They did all of this after playing a lot of ugly basketball: getting creamed embarrassingly by Baylor twice, making a bad Texas team look really good on their very own senior night, and twice threatening to hand a victory to Missouri, the worst team in the Big 12 Conference. Yes, they finished second in that very same conference.

But it wasn’t pretty.

It is a tribute to Sherri Coale.

It is a tribute to Whitney Hand.

It is a tribute to Sharane Campbell and Kaylon Williams, two freshmen who hit the wall about three-fourths of the way through the regular season, contributing much to that hard-to-watch play, but bounced off of it in time to give OU some much-needed March Madness punch and, better than that, give the Sooner Nation three strong seasons to look forward to.

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