Phew.......MU forcibly downed Oral Roberts 73-70 in the semi-finals of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Airing of Grievances was successful. MU now advances to play South Carolina for the championship on Saturday in Anchorage at 9:30pm CST on ESPN2. MU will try to capture is second GAS title of the Millenium -- MU took the crown in 2001 with a win over Gonzaga in the title game.
Tonight's game was nip and tuck for much of the second half with MU nursing a 42-40 lead at the under-16 minute time out, and the game was tied at 45 soon after. MU delivered a terrific run midway through the second half to extend the lead to 66-55 with 2:53 remaining -- but a series of turnovers and missed free throws allowed Oral Roberts to close the gap late. With under 10 seconds to play, Dominic James (6-11 from the free throw line) made the second of two free throws to put MU up 73-70, and MU was able to hold off Oral's advances as the horn sounded. James led MU with 15 points.
Tonight's game was highlighted by the emergence of Ousmane Barro, who's career-high 12 points and five boards were punctuated by a flurry of offense in the second half before fouling out late. Dan Fitzgerald was also stellar in the second half, delivering nine of his eleven during that stanza. In addition, Steve Novak helped MU control the boards (who'da thunk it), as MU managed more offensive rebounds in this game than in their previous three combined. Novak, who had a series three baskets earlier in the second half, also drew a clutch charge late in the game as Oral was closing in.
Also worthy of note .... MU's bench strength was apparent tonight, outscoring ORU's bench 24-3.
Here's the Anchorage Daily News recap of the MU victory.
Here's the MJS box score.