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Lawrence finishes off OU

The MU freshman hit the go-ahead jumper with 47 seconds left.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:18 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Stefhon Hannah stuck his head into the doorway to peek out at the reporters waiting for him after Missouri’s win against Oklahoma. For Hannah, it’s been a custom of his to duck back into the hallway to act as if he’s hiding from the reporters.

After Missouri’s 72-68 win against Oklahoma, Hannah didn’t have many reporters to hide from. They were all already occupied. They were surrounding Hannah’s teammate, Keon Lawrence, who said he had just made possibly the biggest shot of his basketball career.

And since Lawrence averaged more than 30 points per game during his senior year of high school, he had a lot of options to choose from.

After grabbing the ball from teammate Stefhon Hannah’s hands, Lawrence didn’t have much choice but to take the ball to the basket and try to create his own shot. After all, there were only five seconds left on the shot clock.

Lawrence settled on a turnaround jumper with only 47 seconds left in a tie game against Oklahoma.

[photo]

Missouri’s Leo Lyons, left, goes for the ball against Oklahoma’s Michael Neal on Tuesday. (WM. SRITE/Missourian)

His shot fell through the net with only one second remaining on the shot clock.

“We were supposed to weave it around. The play broke down,” Lawrence said. “Three people tried to trap Stefhon and he handed it off to me and I just went with it."

“(Oklahoma) really decided he (Hannah) was going to take it. Because everybody followed him. Then I saw I had my man one-on-one.”

In a game that had 16 lead changes, Lawrence’s shot gave Missouri (17-9, 6-7 Big 12 Conference) the last lead of the game. Lawrence also went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 12 seconds to seal Missouri’s victory against Oklahoma (15-11, 6-7 Big 12).

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel sounded as surprised as anyone that Stefhon Hannah didn’t take Missouri’s most important shot of the game. Maybe that’s why he had his Sooners’ team triple-team Hannah with just under a minute left in a tie game, even though Hannah was dribbling the ball near half-court.

[photo]

WM. SRITE/Missourian

Missouri’s Keon Lawrence tries to shoot over Oklahoma’s Austin Johnson. Lawrence had six points in the last minute.

Hannah has been the player this season to take the biggest shots, but Capel’s defense wouldn’t allow him any room to create his own shot.

“I think it shows the incredible confidence that not only (Missouri coach) Mike (Anderson) has but his teammates have (in Lawrence),” Capel said. “They went to a freshman. And he was able to deliver a big-time play.”

“Keon Lawrence is as hot as any player right now. We knew in his last five games what he’d done. And in his last two games.”

Lawrence, who won the Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Week, looked to be having an off night after making only one field goal in six attempts in the game’s first 39 minutes. His first basket didn’t come until there was 4:41 left in the game.

But Missouri’s freshman guard, who is never lacking in confidence, said he still wanted to be the guy taking the game’s most crucial shot for the Tigers.

“His confidence is growing,” Anderson said. “I mean, you watch his stat line in the first half and you go ‘Where was Keon?’ ... He only had two field goals (in the game). Those were probably two of the biggest field goals in the game. It stopped momentum. A guy like him, he makes plays.”

Lawrence went 0-for-5 from the field in the first half. The entire Missouri team struggled with the slow pace of the half set by Oklahoma, which has the conference’s No. 1 scoring defense.

Hannah didn’t score until the 6:51 mark of the first half. But luckily for Missouri, the Sooners offense wasn’t doing much either.

Despite preparing for Missouri’s defense by having its offense practice against seven defenders, Oklahoma struggled with the Tigers’ full-court press, as well as their half-court defense. Many of the Sooners’ offensive possessions were rushed because of the shot clock running down.

“We tried not to let them speed us up too much,” Oklahoma guard Michael Neal said. “But their pressure got to us a little bit. I think we turned the ball over a number of times.”

The victory for the Tigers was their third consecutive, the longest streak they have had during a Big 12 season since 2005.


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