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January 16, 2010

Davis has Career Day in Spite of Illness

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Jeff Capel remembers how badly it hurt to get booed by his home crowd. But one of the low points of his college career turned into a rallying point for him and his Duke teammates.

Now he's seeing Willie Warren go through the same kind of experience at Oklahoma.

Warren followed a game when the crowd cheered because he was heading to the bench by scoring 21 points to help Oklahoma overcome a sloppy start and beat Missouri 66-61 on Saturday.

Warren was replaced after a series of his career-high seven turnovers during a win against Oklahoma State on Monday night, and the fans let it be known they were glad to see him leave the game.

"Not just the crowd. It was everybody," said Capel, the Sooners' coach. "Me included."

But Warren came back with the kind of outing expected from him after he decided to return to Oklahoma for his sophomore season instead of joining eventual No. 1 pick Blake Griffin in jumping to the NBA.

"When you're looked at as one of the main guys, one of the best in the country, the microscope is on you," Capel said. "Expectations are greater. And now Willie is in a different seat. He's in a different spot. He's in the spot that Blake was in. ... (But) he doesn't have the luxury of having older guys that have been through it and that have been here and played for a long time. He's doing this with a lot younger team, a lot more inexperience."

The Sooners (11-6, 2-1 Big 12) charged ahead with a 17-5 spurt that featured a three-point play by Warren and a pair of two-handed jams by Ryan Wright set up by Warren. Cade Davis drove the left baseline for a layup to push the lead to 54-49 with 5:04 remaining, and Oklahoma held on from there.

Warren hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.

"I've got to be the clutch factor on this team," Warren said. "At the end of the game, the ball's going to be in my hands or (Tommy Mason-Griffin)'s to make plays. Today, at the end of the game, I wanted the ball. I wanted to be the one to go to the free throw line to close it out."

Laurence Bowers had 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to lead the Tigers (14-4, 2-1), whose nine-game winning streak was snapped.

J.T. Tiller stole an inbound pass with 19.5 seconds left to briefly give Missouri possession with a chance to tie or go ahead, but he was called for traveling as he fell to the floor.

"J.T. made a big play, and the call didn't go his way," said fellow Missouri guard Zaire Taylor, who matched his career best with eight assists. "The refs out there have got to do the best they can. He fell on the floor. There's a chance that's going to be a walk."

Said Tigers coach Mike Anderson: "That's life on the road, and I understand that."

The Sooners got the ball inbound successfully after that, and Warren hit both of his foul shots with 15 seconds left to put Oklahoma up 65-61.

Michael Dixon missed a runner and a 3-pointer on the Tigers' final possession before Wright hit a free throw to provide the final margin.

The Tigers, who shot 36 percent, were held below 40 percent for only the fourth time this season but the second game in a row.

"We didn't make plays on the offensive end, but that's going to happen," said Taylor, who shot 1-for-7. "There's nights where your shot's not going to fall. My shot didn't fall tonight, I know that. It comes down to you have to make stops."

The Sooners played much of the game without Tony Crocker, their second-leading scorer and rebounder. He limped off the floor after being called for traveling in the opening 3 minutes and briefly went to the locker room before returning to the bench. He played 3 minutes in the second half on what Capel described as a twisted ankle.

With him out, Davis picked up the slack on the boards and helped Oklahoma overcome a season-high 20 turnovers by outrebounding the defending Big 12 champions 44-35. Davis, who took two IVs before the game and one at halftime to fight off a virus, had his first double-double with 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Wright added 12 points and Steven Pledger scored 10 for the Sooners.

Mason-Griffin, who had 21 assists and only two turnovers in his previous four games, had a season-high seven turnovers against the Tigers' pressure defense.

Missouri scored the first 10 points of the game as Oklahoma turned the ball over six times - including one when Mason-Griffin was simply standing out of bounds when he took a pass - before Pledger finally scored the Sooners' first basket just under 6 minutes into the game. Oklahoma then scored nine straight points to tie the game 12-12 on Warren's 3-pointer from the left corner.

The Tigers then opened an eight-point lead before heading to halftime up 32-27.


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