On This Day in OU Hoops History: Sooners advance to 1991 NIT final

Parker Thune

Oklahoma’s 2020 college basketball season came to an unceremonious and premature end when the NCAA declared this year’s tournament would not be played due to measures intended to stop the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Sooners just might have assembled the kind of team — a Big Three scoring triumvirate and a collection of young, athletic talent — that could have possibly made a good postseason run.

This team’s resume will always be incomplete.

Instead of using three weeks this spring to witness OU basketball history, SI Sooners will relive it. From now until April 4 — the date that was supposed to be this year’s Final Four semifinals — we’ll look back on Oklahoma’s most memorable NCAA Tournament games from that date in history.

MARCH 25, 1991

Oklahoma 88, Colorado 78

Well, it wasn’t in the Big Dance, but 29 years ago today, Billy Tubbs’ Sooners earned a huge win at Madison Square Garden.

With an 88-78 victory over Colorado, Oklahoma punched its ticket to the 1991 NIT title game.

Thus, the triumph over the Buffaloes stands as the Sooners’ final win of an incomprehensibly streaky season. Led by future NBA’ers in Jeff Webster and Brent Price, OU had raced out to an early 13-2 record, with the only two losses coming at the hands of second-ranked Arkansas and ninth-ranked Duke. The Sooners looked primed to compete for a Final Four berth.

Then, seemingly overnight, everything fell apart.

Tubbs’ squad lost 11 of their final 14 games in the regular season, stumbling to a 16-13 finish. The script didn’t exactly flip when the Big Eight tourney rolled around - Nebraska bounced the Sooners in overtime fashion, winning 117-113.

As improbable as it may have sounded just weeks prior, the Sooners’ 1990-91 season would culminate in a trip to the NIT.

Finally, Oklahoma snapped out of the funk. Led by Webster and Price, they rolled Tulsa 111-86 and fought past Cincinnati 89-81. An 83-74 triumph over Providence preceded the semifinal victory over the Buffaloes.

Despite the season’s disappointing second-half spiral, five Sooners posted double-digit scoring averages on the year. Webster led the team with 18.3 points per game, with Price a close second at 17.5. Kermit Holmes scored at a clip of 14.8 PPG, Terry Evans managed 11.1, and Bryan Sallier chipped in 10.2.

In the NCAA tournament, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke would go on to win the first national title in program history. Meanwhile, the Sooners, who had dropped a 90-85 thriller to the Blue Devils on Dec. 22, would lose to Stanford in the NIT championship game.

It remains the most recent title game appearance of any kind for Sooner men's basketball.

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