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Griffin carries Oklahoma past Nebraska

Jan 22, 2009 - 5:33 AM NORMAN, Oklahoma (Ticker) -- Blake Griffin had 27 points and 18 rebounds and fifth-ranked Oklahoma shut down Nebraska in the second half to pull out a 72-61 victory on Wednesday.

Austin Johnson had 15 points and Tony Crocker added 12 for Oklahoma, which used a 13-2 spurt late in the second half and made its final seven free throws.

The win was the Sooners' seventh straight and sets up an intriguing matchup with No. 23 Baylor on Saturday as they look to stay atop the Big 12 standings.

"We have shown that we can do that," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said of his team's ability to find ways to win. "I think there is something to say about that with this team. We have had different kinds of adversity - guys not playing well, guys in a funk, us not shooting the ball well, us not doing some things well - yet we still found a way to get 18 wins against one loss."

It was not pretty for the Sooners, who trailed 38-32 after a lackluster first half. The Cornhuskers used the 3-point shot to take the lead into the break, knocking down six shots from long range in the opening 20 minutes.

"We made some mistakes and they hung around," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. "When they got the opportunity to make some plays, they made them. That is what a team that is ranked wherever they're ranked is supposed to do."

Oklahoma (18-1, 4-0 Big 12) turned up the defensive pressure and eventually took the lead on a three by Omar Leary, but a jumper from Toney McCray pulled Nebraska within 56-55 with 5:16 left in the contest.

"The way we were trying to guard them didn't work because they drove us, they got good looks, they made shots, they spread us out and we had no movement and no sense of purpose with what we were doing," Capel said. "I thought we did a better job of that in the second half and I thought our defense was better."

It would be nearly four minutes until the Cornhuskers would score again as the Sooners reeled off eight straight points and went perfect from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.

"We competed. The first half we were just going out there playing and just kind of going through the motions," Griffin said. "In the second half we came out and scored points and really got after it defensively."

The Sooners sank four of their first five attempts from 3-point range in the opening six minutes of the game but cooled off from there, allowing the Cornhuskers to take control.

Nebraska (12-5, 2-2) was led by Ryan Anderson, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half. He sank 4-of-7 from deep in the first half but missed all five attempts in the second.

"He got some open looks and hit some shots," Sadler said. "We weren't trying to do anything different. We just tried to get the Griffin guys in ball screens on the floor. When we did those things and didn't get impatient, I thought we got some good looks."

The Cornhuskers were also unable to take advantage from the free-throw line, converting on just 5-of-14 attempts.