Cliff Brunt, AP Sports Writer
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Buddy Hield had missed his last four shots, and his Oklahoma Sooners were struggling to get over the hump against scrappy, undermanned Oklahoma State.
The Sooners’ leading scorer fearlessly hit two 3-pointers late — one to tie the game and the other to give his team the lead for good — as Oklahoma defeated the Cowboys 77-74 on Saturday afternoon to sweep the season series against its rival.
Hield, who finished with 22 points, said he didn’t hesitate when it was time to take the big shots, even though he had made just 6 of 16 in the game before the two big threes and he was coming off a 1-for-13 shooting effort against Texas Tech.
“The coaches and my teammates keep telling me to shoot the ball,” Hield said. “I’ve been shooting the ball all my life. It’s not like I’m going to stop.”
Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime. The Sooners had tried to foul before Oklahoma State had a chance at the final shot, and Brown, who finished with 26 points, gave Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger an uneasy feeling as the seconds ticked away.
“I didn’t like, when Brown was rising up to shoot that one — I didn’t like the feeling I had because he’s a great player,” Kruger said.
Frank Booker scored a season-high 15 points, Tyler Neal scored 13 and Ryan Spangler added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Sooners (19-7, 8-5 Big 12), who were desperate for a win after losing three of their previous four. The Sooners were coming off a 68-60 loss to Texas Tech during which they posted a season-low point total.
Brown led Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-8) with 26 points. Phil Forte scored 16 points, Le’Bryan Nash scored 15 and Kamari Murphy had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Cowboys, who lost their sixth straight game. It was Oklahoma State’s second game without Marcus Smart, the preseason All-America guard who was suspended for three games after shoving Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr.
Spangler said Oklahoma State played well without its star.
“I think he gets them going, but the guys for them today stepped up,” Spangler said. “Everybody for them was hitting shots and they were just as hard to guard. He’s a great player, but they were good today, too.”
Oklahoma led 71-68 in the final minute when Forte missed a 3-pointer. OU’s Jordan Woodard made two free throws to make it a five-point game with 30.6 seconds left. Brown’s 3-pointer got the lucky bounce and went in to trim the Sooners’ lead to 73-71.
A pair of free throws by Je’lon Hornbeak made it 75-71, Sooners, with 18.6 seconds to play.
Forte’s 3-pointer from the corner with 5.1 seconds remaining cut Oklahoma’s lead to 75-74. Hornbeak was fouled again with 4.4 seconds left, and he made both free throws, forcing Oklahoma State to go for three. Brown dribbled upcourt and stopped at the 3-point line, but the shot missed to the left.
Oklahoma State played with energy throughout, something coach Travis Ford hasn’t been able to say often. Even with the better effort, a team that started the season with a 15-2 record now is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
“We’ve got to dig in,” Ford said. “We’ve got to bounce back. They’re down. This is as down of a locker room that I’ve seen. We just need to keep our head up and understand that there is a lot of basketball left to be played. This effort was better, but we’ve got to finish the game out a little bit better.
Oklahoma State jumped out to a quick 18-11 lead with help from eight points by Forte.
Oklahoma rallied as Neal made a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw to put Oklahoma up 25-22. The Sooners extended their lead to six, but the Cowboys responded. Forte’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the first half cut Oklahoma’s lead to 39-37, a score that stood at the break.
Forte scored 13 points and Brown added 10 in the first half. Neal and Hield each scored 11 points in the first half.
Oklahoma State hung in the game in part by outrebounding the Sooners 23-20 before the break.
The Cowboys finally regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Brown just over a minute into the second half. Brian Williams nearly brought the house down with a two-handed jam that put the Cowboys up 48-41, but Hield came right back with a three-point play and a layup to cut OSU’s lead to two. The Sooners tied the game at 57 on a basket by Neal, and Booker’s 3-pointer with 6 minutes to go gave Oklahoma a 60-57 lead.
Oklahoma State followed with an 8-0 run. A layup and a jumper by Brown gave Oklahoma State a 65-60 edge.
Oklahoma regained its composure, and Hield hit back-to-back-3-pointers to give the Sooners a 71-68 lead with just over a minute to play.
“Coach (Kruger) called two good plays for me and I was able to execute and knock down shots and try to get a win for my teammates,” Hield said.