No 8 seed Oklahoma and No. 9 seed Missouri sparked an old-school Big 12 rivalry in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night, while the Sooners were the higher seed, the fact that they threw due to a positive COVID-19 test without the second-best scorer, De’Vion Harmon, many questions raised whether they could overthrow a solid Tigers team

However, if there is a team ready to play without one of their key players due to COVID protocols, it would be Lon Kruger’s club.Some of their best wins of the year came when they were understaffed in the regular season again the guys stood up for their teammate who couldn’t speak

“Yeah, great performance, everyone,” said Austin Reaves after the game. “Vic (Iwuakor) came in, gave us really good minutes, Alondes (Williams) played really good minutes, EJ (Harkless), Brady (Manek) really stepped up their game they are able to do that.We have known for a long time that they are capable of this and it only became apparent today that I can’t be more proud of these guys and everyone else in im Be a team ”

As is so often the case, Oklahoma was led by Austin Reaves, the All-Big-12 Guardian, who was excellent for significant stretches in the game, scoring 23 points and six assists, as has often been the case this year, he was the leader on the Track where the team needed him

“Yeah, Austin fought all night,” said Lon Kruger after the game. “If you’re the guy who gets the ball late in your hands, you can’t be shy, you can’t be shy, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but our guys know he’ll have the ball late and I thought other guys stepped in and played games to get to the point where Austin then did some games, to be honest Getting to the free-throw line and that was a big part of creating a small spread late there ”

Senior Brady Manek, who has had a tough year for the Sooners, has also taken a big step forward. However, he’s been better lately and worked his way back to the starting line-up last month in that game than his team urgently needed him, he rose to

with 19 huge points

“Yeah, it was huge,” Kruger said of Manek’s performance. “It was really big I think it was a huge shot to do those three early and then one too late to get it to four and fight again he, Tilmon is tall and tough I thought he and Kur (Kuath) fought him all night on the defensive too ”

One of the key moments of the game was Missouri getting the ball to the ground late and Oklahoma three points ahead after a disjointed possession time ran out, Elijah Harkless made the extreme heads-up game to Drew Buggs on purpose to smudge to force him to take two free throws, essentially forcing the Tigers’ only hope to be an offensive that was reset to a missed free-kick throw The Smart Game helped the Sooners put the game on hold / p>

“Teams practice that a lot, of course, and we do it,” said Kruger. “We kind of do it, we use that six-second mark, we talk about it, and regardless of what happens in the free throws, whenever the clock goes below six – it’s one thing to talk about – Jalen Hill did that once earlier this year in a game and really nice heads up game, and Elijah did a very good heads up game right there ”


The bottom line of the night for the Sooners is that they stayed incredibly calm through the game’s greatest moments, often making the smart game, along with Harkless’ decision to foul, the team made high IQ games throughout the game – highlighted by Manek, who gave up an open three-point shot to pass the ball and use more clock.An underrated game that was one of many key games that didn’t necessarily appear in the boxing standings

“It’s something you talk about, you relate to it, but it’s still to Brady’s credit for the decision-making back then,” Kruger said. “Because when you’re wide open as a shooter you’re tempted to shoot it, but Brady made the right game and he’s a smart guy, smart basketball guy too, and glad to see that. ”

Oklahoma now has its ticket to the second round and a date with the No. 1 team in the country Gonzaga Bulldogs At the time of writing, the Bulldogs have a massive lead over Norfolk State in the second half

The job is big, but this team has never cared very much about the odds against them.One thing that is guaranteed is that Kruger will prepare the team to give the top dog of the tournament the best shot

Austin Reaves, Big 12, Lon Kruger, Missouri Basketball, Missouri Tigers, NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma Basketball, Oklahoma Sooners, SEC, Basketball

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Source: https://soonerswire.usatoday.com/2021/03/20/oklahoma-sooners-missouri-tigers-ou-wins-72-68-in-first-round-of-ncaa-tournament/