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Monday, February 6, 2006

OU bemoans finish

'It should've never come to that'

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Michael Neal felt a hand on one of his as he tried to win the game at the buzzer.

There isn't a doubt in his mind.

"There was," he said. "There was contact."

Neal's shot missed badly, completing an Oklahoma University implosion that featured the dramatic evaporation of a 16-point second-half lead Sunday. Kansas University eventually prevailed, 59-58, in Allen Fieldhouse.

OU had three chances to win it inside of 20 seconds, including Neal's shot as the horn blared. KU sophomore Russell Robinson guarded Neal and swore he made a clean defensive play. Neal disagreed, but admitted he didn't feel slighted by the officiating.

"I wasn't expecting (a foul)," Neal said. "That's the way it goes."

If the last play went according to OU coach Kelvin Sampson's playbook, the basketball instead would have gone inside to Taj Gray. With the Wichita native locked up underneath, though, Neal was option No. 2.

"Anytime Michael Neal is open, we get him the ball," forward Kevin Bookout said. "When he shoots the ball, we feel like it's going in."

Sampson said little about the last few seconds, blurting, "It should've never come to that."












He instead spoke briefly about the dismal final few minutes that doomed his squad, then he left the interview area.

"I didn't know if we could play better for 34 minutes," said Sampson, whose squad fell to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big 12 Conference. "Everything that we wanted, we got -- offensively, defensively, rebounding, loose balls.

"This one is hard to handle because we outplayed them for a long time. They outplayed us in the last six minutes."

David Godbold hit a three-pointer with 7:51 remaining to put OU up, 53-38. After that, KU (15-6, 6-2) furiously finished the game on a 21-5 run, including Mario Chalmers' point-blank jumper with 20 seconds left that finished the scoring.

"When we get the lead, we need to understand that how we built that lead is how we should keep playing," Bookout said. "If we get a team down 15, we need to step on them and get up 20. If we go up 20 with four minutes to go, there's no way they'll come back."

OU hardly did that, though, and it resulted in another example of woeful play by Big 12 South foes in Allen Fieldhouse.

With Sunday's loss, the Big 12 South is 0-29 in Phog's barn. Sampson still hasn't won a game in the fieldhouse, which was loud enough to drown out the band Sunday.

"Sooner or later, it's going to happen," Bookout said. "I just wish it could've been this time."

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