With its best player sidelined by an injury, Oklahoma’s NCAA Tournament hopes could have gone by the wayside in a flash.
Tony Crocker wouldn’t let that happen. Crocker scored a career-high 25 points and Oklahoma snapped Oklahoma State’s five-game winning streak Wednesday night with a 68-56 victory in a Bedlam rivalry game in Stillwater, Okla., loaded with NCAA Tournament implications for both teams.
With leading scorer Blake Griffin out following right knee surgery, Crocker picked up the slack by scoring 14 points in the first half and then helping the Sooners pull away in the second half.
The Sooners (20-10, 8-7 Big 12) avoided a dreaded eighth Big 12 loss while giving their in-state rivals exactly that. No Big 12 team has ever made the NCAAs with eight conference losses.
“It’s real big. Going into the tournament, we needed this for our RPI and all that,” said Crocker, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
The loss ends a remarkable comeback for Oklahoma State (16-13, 7-8) and likely leaves the Cowboys needing to win the Big 12 tournament — something that’s never been done by a team that has to win four games in four days — to get into the NCAA tournament with an automatic bid.
-- The Associated Press