Oklahoma needed to make a statement in its opening round game of the N.I.T. and that’s exactly what the Sooners did. Mo Gibson scored a team-high 28 points and Jordan Goldwire added 15 as the Sooners sent Missouri State packing by a final score of 89-72. It seemed as if OU needed to prove something to themselves more than those who snubbed them in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners shot 50% from the floor for the game, and 48% from three-point range, while also forcing 11 Missouri State turnovers and outrebounding the Bears by a margin of 38-35. The 89-points was Oklahoma’s highest production since dropping 96 on UTSA way back on November 12th.
Porter Moser said earlier in the week that he wanted his team to go out and prove people wrong. I’m not sure that they are there yet though. Dominating a team from the Missouri Valley Conference on your home floor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve proven your point. They are definitely moving in the right direction though.
Game Defining Moment
Oklahoma had started to pull away from Missouri State in the closing minutes of the first half but they began to bury the Bears in the second. Leading 47-41 at the break, the Sooners say MSU pull to within five points, at 50-45, on a Donovan Clay dunk at the 17:56 mark. OU responded by going on a 17-5 run over the next five minutes and some change to built a comfortable 67-50 lead.
“So, they should be proud of themselves because it’s a life lesson. I said it the other night. I was gutted, but I was more gutted for them, because I should have a lot more in my career. Players have limited numbers, so I really was heartbroken for them. And then, I mean, it was really tough when they walked out of here and we were literally just going, ‘Man, we’ve got to turn around and play.’ So, we regrouped Monday, yesterday, and we just talked about it. We just talked about the life lessons of how to react when it doesn’t go your way. That’s what character is. And if we go down and don’t play hard and lay an egg and we don’t play well, it’s just giving confirmation that the committee can say, ‘Oh, we made the right decision.’ And I said, ‘Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s prove them wrong. That’s the choice.’”Porter Moser on his team’s mentality going into the game
With a tip of the hat to Jordan Goldwire, tonight’s hero was Umoja Gibson who shot 8-17 from the floor and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity strip to tie for the game high in points at 28. Gibson also pulled down three rebounds, dished an assist, and came up with three steals. He’s playing at a level right now that makes you think he might not be back for the crimson and cream next season.
The Problem Child
Missouri State guard Isiaih Moseley matched Umoja Gibson’s 28 points by shooting 11-of-20 from the floor. He also grabbed 10 boards and came up with three steals in the losing effort.
Oklahoma advances to the second round of the NIT where they will play either Colorado or Saint Bonaventure.
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