Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foul Loss for Mu Key Call Helps Sooners Fend off No. 9 Tigers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foul Loss for Mu Key Call Helps Sooners Fend off No. 9 Tigers

Article excerpt

Twenty-two times in the last two seasons, the Missouri Tigers had the gumption to overcome their adversaries - and themselves - after lagging behind in the second half.

But on Saturday at Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center, ninth-ranked Mizzou's gallantry couldn't atone for its game-long incoherence. That was punctuated with 18.6 seconds left, the flashpoint of the 94-89 loss.

Paul O'Liney had just swooshed in another 3-pointer to sand down to 87-84 what had been a 14-point OU lead. But as Oklahoma's Ryan Minor chugged upcourt with the inbounds pass, MU's baffling Simeon Haley dashed toward Minor.

Rather than fouling Minor with a one-armed swat or jab, Haley clamped both arms about Minor - leaving himself vulnerable to the judgment call of an intentional foul, even though he embraced Minor gently. And intentional foul was what official Paul Janssen decreed, albeit after Minor's prodding.

"I think I might have talked him into it," said Minor, who led the Sooners with 32 points and 11 rebounds.

The crucial ruling left Haley dazed and leaning on a press table. O'Liney leaped and hollered, "Oh, my God, Oh, my God, Oh, my God."

That play often isn't interpreted so stringently by officials, but Janssen, speaking through a pool reporter, didn't waver on his reasoning.

"There was no effort to play the ball," he said. "It is a judgment call, and I felt he was just trying to stop the clock and force them to shoot free throws. . . . It does not matter if he would have grabbed him from the front or the back. In my estimation, he never made a play on the ball."

MU coach Norm Stewart did not address the matter in his short postgame briefing, but OU coach Kelvin Sampson said he urges his players to reduce the odds against the devastating call by "attacking the ball" when in that defensive situation.

OU thus was granted two of its 53 free throws (the Sooners attempted 51 field goals) and subsequent possession.

"If we had just given up the free throws and not the ball . . . " said Stewart, his eyes bloodshot. "That was real critical."

The sequence translated directly to two more Oklahoma free throws when MU's Chip Walther fouled Oklahoma's John Ontjes four seconds later.

As Stewart and assistants Rich Daly and Kim Anderson simultaneously mocked the officials by gesturing for an intentional foul (crossing their forearms), Ontjes hit the shots to make it 91-84. That put it out of MU's considerable grasp.

"You have to give Missouri credit," Minor said. "Who knows what might have happened if there had been another minute on the clock?"

In another minute, actually, the Tigers might have run out of players.

Four of MU's nine healthy scholarship players had fouled out: Sammie and Simeon Haley, Julian Winfield and Jason Sutherland, who in theory had six fouls after being slapped with a technical upon disputing his fifth. …

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