By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -
Here’s one of Your Humble Correspondent’s favorite moments from the classic Caddyshack.
Judge Smails: “It's easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat.”
Translation: When the going gets tough, the tough get going (even in a comedy).
In the Bedlam Version of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Championship Wednesday night, No. 7 seed Oklahoma State won a laugher, defeating No. 10 seed Oklahoma, 81-67. But early in the second half, the Cowboys’ shorts got too tight in the seat.
Thanks to a surge courtesy of Obi Muonelo, Oklahoma State (22-9) went to the locker room with a smile. And they advanced to the quarterfinals where they’ll face No. 2 seed Kansas State at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Cowboys had frittered away 15 of what had been a 25-point lead. A 3-pointer by Sooners’ freshman Steven Pledger made it 47-37. Oklahoma (13-18) had held Oklahoma State to just two free throws and OSU had missed its first eight field goals of the half. Inquiring minds were wondering about the biggest squandered lead in Big 12 Tournament history.
“In the second half, I thought we came out a little flat,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “You’ve got to give OU a little credit. It can be human nature to let up (after getting the big first-half lead) but you’d hope your team wouldn’t do that.”
The Cowboys had been settling for jump shots. Muonelo ended that nonsense by driving and dishing. First he drove for a three-point play. After a Keiton Page steal and three-point play, Muonelo passed for a Matt Pilgrim slam. Then he stepped out to make a 3-pointer that made it 58-40.
“At that time, our offense was really dry,” said Muonelo, who scored 15 points with seven assists. “I was trying to get my team going with a layup or a drive. I was trying to get a drive or drive and find somebody.”
The Sooners’ 14-2 run to open the second half was impressive but it did little to counter OU’s first half defensive woes. Oklahoma State’s first three baskets were 3-pointers and the Cowboys made seven of their first 10 shots. Oklahoma countered by missing seven of its first eight shots.
Put the two together and it produced a 20-2 OSU lead at the 13:41 mark when Jeff Capel called his second timeout to try and slow the onslaught. It didn’t help. The Cowboys made 15 of their first 24 shots the last a drive by Pilgrim that made it 40-15 with 4:04 remaining in the first half.
“Our goal in the second half was to get the lead cut down to 10 points and we did that in the first eight minutes,” Capel said. “We gave up two three-point plays in a row and that kind of broke our back.”
Page was the instigator in the first 20 minutes. He made all five of his 3-point attempts the fifth a rim-bounce-backboard effort and added another basket and two free throws for 19 points. He finished with a game-high 24.
“I felt like I got us off to a good start,” the 5-9 sophmore said. “For the most part, it was our defense getting us going and we were getting open shots in transition.”
So Page and Oklahoma State had that going for em. (See: Caddyshack, Carl Spackler).