CATEGORY: Basketball



NORMAN, Okla. Mississippi State put Oklahoma in a big early hole and made it stand up, but just barely.

The Bulldogs led 21-6 after the first 6 1/2 minutes, led by 16 with 5 1/2 left and by 10 with a minute to play, but had to hang on to beat Oklahoma 76-71 Saturday afternoon.

Darryl Wilson scored a season-high 32 points and Erick Dampier, bothered by foul trouble all day, sank two crucial free throws in the closing seconds as the Bulldogs (16-5) won their fifth straight.

We can’t seem to have anything but close, uncomfortable games when we play, but I guess the bottom line is the end result and we’ll take it,” coach Richard Williams said.

It marked the ninth time this season that the Bulldogs have had a double-digit lead and either blown it or allowed the opponent to get within a basket. Oklahoma got within 71-69 and 72-71, but never did lead.

We played against a team today that was better than us,” coach Kelvin Sampson said. Sometimes that’s going to happen. But give my kids credit. They battled and battled and battled and battled and hung in there.”

Ernie Abercrombie had 25 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for the Sooners, who had won three in a row. Ryan Minor added 24. The 22 rebounds by Abercrombie were the most by a Big Eight player since Jeff Grayer of Iowa State had 24 against U.S. International in 1987-88.

But the Sooners (13-9) got virtually nothing out of two of their other starters, Nate Erdmann and Bobby Joe Evans. Erdmann scored zero points on 0-of-6 shooting in 25 minutes, while Evans picked up two quick fouls and scored two points in 10 minutes.

We’re the kind of basketball team if we don’t have five guys playing well, then we’re not going to beat good teams. We’re just not going to do it,” Sampson said.

Mississippi State made its first seven shots, five of them 3-pointers, in taking the 21-6 lead with 13:46 left in the first half. Oklahoma started out 4-of-17 but managed to cut the lead to eight at halftime.

Minor, who scored only seven in the first half, got going quickly after halftime and scored 11 of his team’s 13 points as the Sooners got to within 46-42.

Then Wilson hit a 3-pointer, and after Minor missed an off-balance shot at the other end, he fouled a Mississippi State player and complained to the ref. The official gave him a technical foul and Wilson sank both free throws.

Two minutes later, Sampson was hit with a technical for complaining about a call. Wilson again sank both free throws to make the lead 53-42. A Wilson 3-pointer and two shots by Dampier widened the margin to 62-46 with 5:33 remaining.

I thought it was a poor call,” Sampson said of his technical. I thought there were a lot of poor calls out there.”

Mississippi State didn’t make a field goal in the final 5 1/2 minutes, but did make 14 of 20 free throws.

Oklahoma didn’t seem to have much of a chance until Minor hit a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left, making the score 70-63. After a Bulldog turnover, Tyrone Foster made a 3-pointer. Wilson then made one of two at the line, and Foster came down and hit another 3 to get the Sooners with 71-69.

Wilson again made just one of two from the line, and Foster answered with a driving layup to make it 72-71 with 24 seconds left.

Marcus Bullard gave the Bulldogs a three-point lead with two free throws, and after a 3-pointer by Foster rimmed out with 12 seconds remaining, Dampier made two foul shots to seal the victory.

We have a hard time closing games,” said Wilson, who wound up 12-of-16 from the line. We as a team have to learn to finish a game.”

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