The way John Lucas had been shooting all night, there was little doubt his 3-pointer in the final seconds of double-overtime Tuesday night would fall through.
Unfortunately for Lucas, Oklahoma State’s star point guard, he had made two desperation shots against Missouri earlier in the game. His luck ran out in overtime when his 3-pointer from the right wing rattled out, securing a 93-92 Missouri win.
Missouri guards Jimmy McKinney and Thomas Gardner split the defensive duties on Lucas, but neither had much success. Lucas finished with 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-11 on 3-pointers, in 48 minutes.
McKinney said he was sure Lucas’ last-gasp effort would not be on target.
“He already hit those shots,” McKinney said. “I didn’t think it was going in.”
Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton drew up the final play for Lucas to be the focus. The Missouri defense got crossed up outside, forcing forward Travon Bryant to switch with Gardner to cover Lucas.
Instead of driving to the basket against the slower Bryant, Lucas pulled up for the 3-pointer, which Bryant altered by getting his hand in Lucas’ face. The shot rattled out and Missouri guard Jason Conley grabbed the rebound while the Hearnes Center crowd of 13,233 roared for the win.
“I thought when he took that last shot, it looked to me like it was going in,” Sutton said. “But that’s basketball.”
Lucas, despite setting a career high for scoring, was clearly disappointed.
“Coach said, ‘Take the last shot,’” Lucas said. “I thought I had a pretty good shot, but it just didn’t go in, it rolled in and out…
“I’m supposed to hit those shots. They were depending on me, and I just couldn’t come through for them.”
Lucas was the Cowboys’ leader in the first half, scoring 18 in a strong half for the Tigers, who led 50-39 at the break. Lucas scored the last basket of the half for the Cowboys, throwing up a wild shot from the right wing as the shot clock expired with 22 seconds left.
The basket temporarily cut Missouri’s lead to 47-39, but Missouri swingman Rickey Paulding hit a 3-pointer from the left wing seconds later, swinging the momentum back the Tigers’ way.
Lucas hit a more impressive shot in the opening moments of the second half.
On the Cowboys’ first possession, Lucas made a move to his right, fell down, and while keeping his dribble, got back to his feet and hit a 3-pointer from the right wing.
It was a basket from the playground, not the Big 12 Conference, but it was effective: The Cowboys trailed 50-42 after the basket and were on their way to a second-half rally.
“You don’t see that happen too much,” McKinney said. “You want to see it happen when, you know, you’re on offense. But we saw it happen tonight.”
Some of Lucas’ baskets made McKinney wonder whether Lucas had a little supernatural help on his side.
“If he’s hitting those types of shots … he’s not going to hit them all night, unless he’s got God on his side or he’s an angel or something,” McKinney said.
The Missouri defense tightened on Lucas in the second half, allowing him to score 12 in the final 30 minutes. Gardner said defending Lucas was much different from watching him on tape.
“I got a chance to see him on a couple scouting tapes, but it’s totally different being out there against him,” he said. “He kept them in the game pretty much. We just tried to stay in front of him and force him to get other players the ball.”
Lucas, the driving force of the Oklahoma State offense, transferred from Baylor this summer. He had two strong, if unspectacular years with the Bears, averaging 13.2 points. Lucas had 18 points and five assists at Missouri on Jan. 11, 2003, but McKinney said Lucas is a different player now.
“Today was just … just unbelievable,” McKinney said. “You could tell he was feeling it. He was just throwing it up and it was going in.”
Tuesday’s loss was the Cowboys’ first to a North Division opponent, whom they had gone 5-0 against, including an 80-60 win against Kansas on Feb. 9.
Lucas and guard Tony Allen were particularly strong against North opponents entering Tuesday’s game; Lucas averaged 18.6 points and Allen 16.4 points and six rebounds.
Both continued their strong play against the Tigers, combining for 54 of the Cowboys’ points in the loss.
Kroenke plays through flu
Missouri guard Josh Kroenke played two minutes in the first half after receiving intravenous fluids Tuesday afternoon. Kroenke is fighting off the flu, and looked a step slow in pregame warm-ups but appeared strong during his brief time in the game.
After starting Missouri’s first eight games, Kroenke has averaged nine minutes in the past three. He is averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds.
Overtime and more overtime
Missouri played multiple overtimes for the first time since Jan. 23, 2001, a quadruple-overtime 112-109 win against Iowa State.
The game was Missouri’s 18th to go to multiple overtimes. The Tigers improved to 9-0 in multiple overtime games at home.