Dec. 29, 2011 – Before the season began, the game with the Cincinnati Bearcats was one most fans figured the Oklahoma Sooners would lose. However, heading into the game, the Sooners had won nine games and the Bearcats had lost three. Cincinnati was also without their best player and fans believed Oklahoma could win. Unfortunately, the Bearcats pulled it out with a come-from-behind, 56-55, win over the Sooners.
The most disappointing part of the loss to Cincinnati was that Oklahoma led by as many as 12 points in he game. Cincinnati only held the lead twice, but because they led when the final buzzer sounded, they took the win. Oklahoma will now have to wait until Big 12 season starts and they face teams like Kansas, Missouri and Baylor to get any notice from those stubborn AP and Coaches’ voters now.
“Tough ball game, obviously you go on the road, and get an opportunity to win one down the stretch, you’d like to pull it off,” said Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lon Kruger. “You got to credit Cincinnati, Coach Cronin has done a great job with his club; especially the last four or five games. He’s got them playing really hard and making a lot of good plays for each other.”
The first half of play was sloppy and neither team seemed to want to put any points on the board.
Oklahoma scored first at the 18:54 mark on an Andrew Fitzgerald jumper. Almost two minutes later, Fitzgerald scored again to make the score 4-0. Finally, after 5:51 had passed in the game, Cincinnati scored their first points to make the score 6-2. It then took three more minutes before either team scored again.
Oklahoma went into the half, up 24-19. Andrew Fitzgerald, who came into the game averaging 11.5 points per game, led the Sooners with ten for the opening period.
“They’re a club that shoots the ball better than they did tonight,” Kruger said. “We got lucky that they weren’t shooting the ball as well as they have been. We did a good job keeping them out of the paint and driving and kicking for open opportunities.”
The second half of the game heated up as Cincinnati came back and took the win with a late flurry.
The Bearcats fought back to tie the game up, 53-53, with 39 seconds remaining. After the Bearcats took a one-point lead on a free throw, Oklahoma drove the court and Romero Osby hit a nice layup to put the Sooners up 55-54. Cashmere Wright hit a nice layup of his own with nine seconds left to put the Bearcats on top and Steven Pledger missed a 3-pointer as time expired for the loss.
“We had a couple chances to get a stop there late, and we weren’t able to do it,” Kruger said. “We need to be able to do that, especially on the road to have a chance to win a ball game. We’ll learn from it and hopefully get a little better from it.”
Fitzgerald led the Sooners with 18 points while Osby finished with a double-double, 12 points and 12 rebounds. Pledger had an off-night with only 11 points and six rebounds in the game.
Oklahoma returns to Norman for their final non-conference game on New Year’s Eve as they welcome Northwestern State to town.