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Archive for Thursday, November 27, 2008

Griffin propels OU into finals

November 27, 2008

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No. 11 Oklahoma 77, UAB 67

New York — Blake Griffin scored 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help Oklahoma beat Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday in the NIT Season-Tip Off semifinals.

The Sooners advanced to the championship game on Friday to play No. 10 Purdue, which beat Boston College, 71-64, in the other semifinal.

Trailing 62-60 with 5:09 left in a back-and-forth game, Oklahoma (5-0) closed with a 17-5 run. Griffin scored five points during the spurt and keyed a three-point play by Austin Johnson by stealing the ball and pitching it ahead to his teammate on a fast break. That gave Oklahoma a 67-62 lead with 4:01 left, and the Sooners cruised from there.

Paul Delaney III scored 23 points, and Robert Vaden added 18 to lead UAB (4-1), which was looking to match the school record for consecutive victories to start a season set by the 1983-84 team. Even more impressive about the Blazers’ strong start is this: They’ve played all their games away from home.

Griffin was unstoppable whenever he got the ball. The Blazers tried to limit his touches by doubling or tripling the 6-foot-10 sophomore center. But even that wasn’t enough to slow Griffin, who came in averaging 26 points per game. He displayed a nifty spin move that got him free for basket after basket.

Griffin, who became the first player in Big 12 history to have 20 points and 20 rebounds in consecutive games, failed to do it in a third straight. He also failed to grab 18 or more rebounds for the first time this season.

Trailing 34-29 at halftime, the Sooners took over by continuing a 6-0 run they used to close the first period. Oklahoma started the second half with a 17-7 spurt to build a 45-41 advantage five minutes into the second half. The teams traded baskets from there over the next 10 minutes, with UAB taking a 62-60 lead on Vaden’s layup.

Griffin kept Oklahoma in the game in the first half, scoring 13 points. Trailing 18-15, UAB went on a 10-0 run as Vaden scored five points during the spurt for a 25-18 lead with 6:46 left. The Blazers extended the lead to 34-23 on Delaney’s layup with 2:49 left. Oklahoma was able to close within five at halftime as Griffin scored six straight points.

No. 6 Texas 70, Oregon 57

Lahaina, Hawaii — Damion James had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Texas past Oregon in the third-place game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The Longhorns (4-1) lost, 81-80, to No. 8 Notre Dame in the semifinals, a game that ended with A.J. Abrams’ shot from beyond halfcourt bouncing off the front of the rim. The third-place finish matched their best in three appearances in the Maui Invitational. Instead of having to play catch-up as it did in the loss to the Fighting Irish, Texas took command this time with a 21-1 run.

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