NORMAN, Ok. Standing in a hallway late Tuesday evening, his career-high 44 points not quite enough to lift his team past Oklahoma in the second round of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off Tournament, Davidson's Stephen Curry wasn't ready to let frustration bleed away.
“It's pretty disappointing,” Curry said after the Wildcats' 82-78 loss in the Lloyd Noble Center. “Oklahoma's a great team and we came into their place, got down big and found a way to make it a game again. But we couldn't get over the hump.”
Just being able to see out of what had been a 21-point second-half hole was an achievement for the Wildcats, who were victimized by their inconsistent shooting and by foul trouble that cost them Max Paulhus Gosselin and Steve Rossiter in the critical late minutes.
There were good memories to work from, however. The Wildcats found themselves in deep deficits against Gonzaga and Georgetown during their NCAA tournament run last March and found a way to win.
When it was over and the comeback had fallen short, Curry remembered Davidson's early-season games last year when they pushed North Carolina and Duke but didn't win.
“We've got to learn to finish games,” Curry said. “This is similar to those games where we came so close.”
The short-term effect will keep Davidson (2-1) at home next week where it will play two games against other Preseason NIT teams that failed to advance to New York over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The long-term effect is likely to be beneficial, given the noisy atmosphere and the challenge of dealing with the 12th-ranked team in the country on its homecourt.
“Our objective coming here was to get better and I think we got better,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said.
Curry could hardly have done more, almost willing the Wildcats back into the game. But like the rest of his team, Curry struggled with his shooting, making just 12 of 29 shots. As a team, Davidson shot just 35 percent.
Some of it was due to Oklahoma's aggressive defense. Some of it wasn't.
Guard Bryant Barr made just one of nine shots and forward Andrew Lovedale missed a handful from short range as the Wildcats had trouble developing a rhythm on the offensive end.
Curry wasn't the game's only star. Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin showed why he's a first-team preseason All-American, scoring 25 points and crushing the Wildcats with 21 rebounds.
Griffin's one supposed weakness – free-throw shooting – wasn't a problem as he made 11 of 12 from the line including a string of foul shots to hold off the Wildcats' gathering comeback.
Davidson's ticket to New York City next week was torn up in the opening portion of the second half when Oklahoma hit the Wildcats with two staggering scoring runs.
By the time Davidson recovered, the Wildcats were down 61-40. To their credit, they answered with their own 14-0 run fueled by Curry but the hole was too deep.
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