David Patrick’s Sooners bounce back from NCAA Tournament selection heartache
David Patrick’s Oklahoma Sooners rebounded from the disappointment of missing out on NCAA Tournament selection with a slick performance in an 89-72 first-round victory over Missouri State in the National Invitation Tournament last night.
The Sooners, who improved their record to 19-15 with the result, had hoped a stunning defeat of defending national champions Baylor in the Big 12 Conference Tournament would have swayed the selection committee on Sunday night, but as it turned out, nothing but a conference championship would have been enough to get into the feature event of March Madness.
Oklahoma would be beaten in the semi-finals by ultimate runners-up Texas Tech to close their conference season record at 7-11 after a mid-season swoon, but the Big 12 is well enough respected around the nation to make those seven wins of significance.
Patrick, a Bermudian, is in his first year as associate head coach in Oklahoma, working under head coach Porter Moser, who had quite a job to lift his players after they missed out on Selection Sunday.
“After the disappointment of not being selected in the field of 68 on Sunday, it was great to see our team respond in a positive way against a very good Missouri State team,” Patrick told The Royal Gazette. “The chance to win an NIT title would be a huge accomplishment in our first year together.”
Porter, who is in his first year at Norman, told SoonerSports: “They should be proud of themselves because it is a life lesson. I said it the other night, I was gutted but I was more gutted for them. Players have a limited number [of postseason opportunities].
“I was really heartbroken for them. It was really tough when they walked out of here and we have to turn around and play. We regrouped Monday and we just talked about the life lessons, and how you react when it doesn't go your way. That is what character is.”
Umoja Gibson answered the call with a team-high 28 points as the Sooners, the nominal No 1 seed in the 32-team NIT — effectively a consolation tournament for the schools not considered among the 68 best to play in the NCAA Tournament — got off to a fast start at the Lloyd Noble Centre against the Bears from the Missouri Valley Conference and led almost wire-to-wire.
Fresh off being named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team after 16 points against No 14 Texas Tech and 13 points in the victory over No 3 Baylor, Gibson stormed out of the gates against the Bears.
He finished the first 20 minutes of play with 17 points on five-for-eight shooting, ultimately equalling a school NIT record with five three-pointers — the Sooners combined for a tournament-record 12 threes.
Fellow senior Jordan Goldwire added 13 points and six assists in the first half and finished the night with 15 points on seven-for-11 shooting with a team-high eight assists.
Next up in the second round for the Sooners are St Bonaventure, who overcame higher-seeded Colorado State 76-68 in a later game.