Lon Kruger and Oklahoma overcome seven-point deficit in final 56 seconds, ending game on a 9-1 run to steal 86-85 win from Seton Hall in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic semifinal at Barclays Center. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
Oklahoma, at least according to the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, is the place where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.
After last night at the Barclays Center, Seton Hall would know firsthand.
Up by seven with 56 seconds remaining in regulation and on their way to a win over a reigning NCAA Tournament team despite having lost resurgent forward Patrik Auda, who re-injured the same broken foot that cost him nearly all of his junior season last year, late in the first half, the Pirates (3-2) saw their promising night fall by the wayside, losing a heartbreaker to Lon Kruger's Sooners in Brooklyn by the final of 86-85, watching Oklahoma (4-0) score nine of the game's final ten points.
"It's unfortunate," a dejected Kevin Willard said when surmising the shattered outcome. "We got a little bit out of whack and just didn't take care of the ball."
After taking an 84-77 lead following the second of two Eugene Teague free throws, the Pirates committed three turnovers in the final 1:52 while being outrebounded 6-2, but managed to right the ship for the most part until Sterling Gibbs missed the second of two foul shots with 43 seconds left that would have extended the Seton Hall lead back to seven points. From there, it all unraveled.
Consecutive layups by Cameron Clark, whose 20 points led the Sooners, cut Oklahoma's deficit to just two points. Needing only to make free throws the rest of the way, Seton Hall instead coughed up the ball on the ensuing possession, as Jordan Woodard picked the pocket of Brandon Mobley (12 points, 10 rebounds) and drew a foul in the process. However, the true freshman made only one of his two foul shots, pulling Oklahoma within one.
The Sooners were sent to the line again when sophomore guard Buddy Hield drew a foul on Tom Maayan with 9.3 seconds remaining in regulation and Seton Hall leading 85-84. Hield made both shots, forcing the Pirates to go the length of the court after Willard called his final timeout in between Hield's free throws. As Jaren Sina brought the ball up, Oklahoma deflected a Fuquan Edwin pass that somehow found its way to Brian Oliver, who missed a three-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer.
Gibbs led Seton Hall and all scorers with 26 points, 17 of which came at the free throw line on a night where the New Jersey native was one of five Pirates in double figures. As for Auda, the Czech forward will be evaluated in the coming days to determine the severity of his injury, but even the best case scenario would most likely put him on the shelf for at least a month.
"He'll get a CAT scan on the bone to check out if he bent the screw that was in last year," Willard said. "If he bent the screw, then obviously it's a major issue. If not, then (he's) out maybe a month, maybe more."
Seton Hall will face Virginia Tech in the consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tonight at 7 p.m., while Oklahoma advances to face top-ranked Michigan State, who surged past the Hokies 96-77 in the second game of last night's doubleheader.