Sooners win ugly, advance to Big 12 Semifinals

Oklahoma Sooners

Tony Crocker had 12 points and Oklahoma survived an off day from all-conference forward Blake Griffin to beat Colorado 54-49 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Oklahoma (22-10) got off to a fast start, stalled, then needed a late run to hold off the pesky Buffaloes.

Longar Longar had 11 points and nine rebounds, but turned it over seven times. Taylor Griffin, Blake's brother, added 10 points for Oklahoma, which moves on to face Texas in Saturday's semifinals.

Colorado (12-20), as it did in the first round against Baylor, turned the game into a grind, passing at least a dozen times, milking the shot clock on nearly every possession. The tactic turned it into a defensive battle, putting a premium on every possession.

Colorado shot just 34 percent, but held the Sooners to 32 percent and 15 points below their season average, keeping the game close.

The Buffaloes were particularly effective against Blake Griffin, quickly sending double and triple teams as soon as he touched the ball.

Griffin averaged 15.2 points and 9.2 rebounds during the regular season, but was clearly frustrated by Colorado's swarming defense. He had two points in the first half and finished with four on 2-of-7 shooting, playing just 15 minutes.

Colorado's Richard Roby had 18 points to finish his career with 2,001 points, breaking Donnie Boyce's school record by six points. He also had 10 rebounds. Marcus Hall added 12 points.

The Sooners pulled ahead 51-44 on a 3-pointer by Crocker with just over 2 minutes left, but missed three straight free throws to give Colorado a chance. The Buffaloes pulled within 51-49 when Dwight Thorne hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left, but Crocker hit two free throws and Austin Johnson hit 1-of-2 to seal it.

Colorado pulled off the surprise of the first round, holding off Baylor 91-84 in two overtimes to become the first No. 12 seed to beat a fifth seed in the Big 12 tournament's 12-year history.

The Buffaloes figured to have a shot at knocking off Oklahoma, too. They beat the Sooners 72-58 in Boulder on Feb. 9 and a had a little extra motivation after Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel called the game "the most embarrassing thing I've been a part of."

But the long game the day before seemed to take something out of Colorado, at least early.

The Buffaloes were lethargic, throwing passes out of bounds on two of their first five possessions, falling behind 10-0 before getting their first basket 5:05 into the game.

Then Colorado slid into its grind-it-out style.

After some early breakdowns, Colorado tightened up defensively, rarely giving the Sooners an open look, holding them to 26 points on 8-of-23 in the first half. The Buffaloes had their own problems offensively, shooting just 34 percent in the first half, but their defense allowed them to stay within 26-21 at halftime.