for this game

Griffin helps Oklahoma hold off Curry, Davidson

Nov 19, 2008 - 7:10 AM NORMAN, Oklahoma (Ticker) -- In the anticipated matchup between two of college basketball's best players, Blake Griffin had a little more help around him - and it proved to be the difference for Oklahoma.

Griffin had 25 points and a career-high 21 rebounds as No. 14 Oklahoma held on for an 82-78 victory over Stephen Curry and 21st-ranked Davidson in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Tuesday.

The sophomore forward's third straight monster double-double helped offset Curry's career-high 44 points.

Freshman Willie Warren scored 20 points and Taylor Griffin added 16 for the Sooners (3-0), who will play Alabama-Birmingham in the semifinals in New York City on November 26.

"That was a great college basketball game," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "I feel fortunate to sit here as the winning coach. I'm really proud of our guys for digging in and finding a way. People got to witness two great performances; two special performances by two special players, what Blake and what Stephen did. Fortunately for us, we had other players for us and had a little bit more help."

The first matchup of ranked teams this season did not disappoint as Oklahoma (3-0) led throughout the second half - and by as much as 61-40 with 13:12 remaining - before Davidson fought back to come within 79-76 on Curry's sixth 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining.

Tony Crocker missed a 3-pointer from the corner on the Sooners' next possession, but Blake Griffin pulled down the offensive rebound and Cade Davis sank a pair of free throws to give Oklahoma an 81-76 lead with 24 seconds to play.

"This kind of a game early really helps you out," Capel said. "It is a character game where you find out how tough you are. Even if we lost - I certainly wouldn't have felt good, but you still find those things out. Guys have to dig down and make some plays."

Davidson (2-1), which was outrebounded, 43-31, never had the ball with a chance to tie, snapping its 21-game regular-season winning streak.

"Coach Capel said before the game, 'this is why you guys play college basketball,'" Blake Griffin said. "This is why you come to the University of Oklahoma, to play in games like these. I think it is a confidence booster for us, and gives us something to measure our team by. Davidson is a great team, and they are going to do well the rest of the year."

The Wildcats double-teamed Blake Griffin nearly every time he touched the ball and Warren took advantage with three early 3-pointers to help the Sooners take a 21-14 lead with 13:25 left in the first half.

Oklahoma held a 38-34 advantage at the break and, after Curry made the first basket of the second half, used a 10-0 run, six coming from Warren, to take a 48-36 lead with 16:39 remaining.

Blake Griffin scored 10 straight points for his team and Davis' 3-pointer gave the Sooners their biggest lead at 61-40 with 13:12 left to play.

The Wildcats refused to go away as Curry scored nine points, including a deep 3-pointer from the top of the arc, to cap a 14-0 burst to pull Davidson within 61-54 with 11:14 remaining.

"With a team like Davidson and how they shoot the ball, you saw this tonight when we were up by 21, you can never really be up enough," Taylor Griffin said. "They can come back quick, especially with a player like Stephen Curry, and the game is never over until all of the time is off the clock."

Oklahoma built the lead back to 75-60 with 5:24 left before Davidson's late rally fell short.

Curry shot 12-of-29 from the floor and 14-of-14 from the free throw line to notch his third career 40-point game, including the postseason. The rest of the Davidson team combined to shoot 12-of-39 (31 percent). The only other Davidson player in double figures was Andrew Lovedale, who had 10.

"The thing with (Curry) is that he so efficient and it doesn't take a lot for him to get his shot off," Capel said. "He gets it off very quickly and really understands how to move without the basketball. We held that team to 35 percent shooting and, honestly, we tried to double Stephen at times. That is certainly one of the best performances I have seen."