Sooners lose to Arkansas

Michael Washington had 24 points and 11 rebounds, holding his own against Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, and Arkansas handed the fourth-ranked Sooners their first loss of the season, 96-88 on Tuesday night.

The Razorbacks (10-1) led by 25 points in the second half before the Sooners nearly pulled off a sensational rally. Oklahoma (12-1) cut the margin to 81-77, but Washington scored Arkansas’ next seven points to enable the Hogs to hold on.

When it was over, Rotnei Clarke—an Arkansas freshman from Verdigris, Okla. — held the ball and shared a hug with Washington as the final seconds ticked away on Oklahoma’s unbeaten record.

Freshman Courtney Fortson had 12 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Arkansas, which had six players in double figures and never trailed in winning its eighth straight.

Willie Warren scored 35 points for the Sooners, the freshman’s second straight 30-point game, while Griffin had 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The Sooners, who hadn’t played in over a week, fell behind 21-8 before coach Jeff Capel called a timeout.

The early attempt to regroup did little good as Griffin had two shots blocked, and Stefan Welsh went right around Griffin on a fast break for a 37-17 lead.

The Sooners’ frustration boiled over when Tony Crocker was called for two fouls 10 seconds apart. After the second, Crocker stormed over toward his bench, earning a technical foul for the outburst and saddling himself with four fouls for the game. Clarke’s free throws made it 41-20.

Clarke’s 3-pointer made it 72-47 in the second half before Oklahoma went on a 16-0 run. Crocker did his best to atone for his foul-plagued first half, making five 3-pointers in the second to finish with 18 points.

Arkansas lost 86 percent of its scoring from last season’s team that went to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The crowd at Bud Walton Arena was into it from the start Tuesday night. Even when Oklahoma went on an 11-0 run in the first half, Arkansas answered with nine straight points to push the lead back to 19 on former football player Marcus Monk’s dunk.

Only Warren prevented a complete debacle in the first half for the Sooners. At one point, Warren was 6-of-6 from the field while his Oklahoma teammates were 1-of-15. Warren scored 20 points in the first half, but Arkansas led 53-38 at halftime.

The Sooners didn’t go quietly. Griffin scored inside to make it 81-71, then intercepted a pass and threw the ball off an Arkansas player out of bounds.

Warren made consecutive 3-pointers to make it 81-77, and Fortson appeared trapped near midcourt against Oklahoma’s pressure. But the Arkansas guard managed to find Washington alone under the basket for a dunk.

Warren’s two free throws made it 83-79, but that was as close as Oklahoma would get. Washington made a free throw and two baskets to make it 88-81.

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