On This Day: Aaron McGhee's 22 points not enough to rescue Sooners in 2002 Final Four

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 31, 2002

(5) Indiana 73, (2) Oklahoma 64

Sometimes you can’t help but marvel at the pure, beautiful chaos of March Madness, even if you’re on the wrong end of it.

Such was the case for Kelvin Sampson’s Sooners 18 years ago to the day, as they fell 73-64 to the motivated and resurgent Indiana Hoosiers. In their first Final Four appearance since 1988, Oklahoma couldn’t overcome an Indiana team that would fall just short of becoming the first team to lose double-digit games and win a national title since… 1988.

The Sooners took a 34-30 lead into halftime, but from there, it was all Hoosiers, as future NBA’er Jared Jeffries led the way. Indiana dished out 19 assists to the Sooners’ six, and shot 8-for-13 from beyond the arc (Oklahoma went just 2-for-18 from deep). Hoosiers big man Jeff Newton came up big off the bench, scoring 19 points in just 23 minutes of action and adding four blocks.

OU forward Aaron McGhee led all scorers with 22 points, but fouled out down the stretch as the Sooners’ last-ditch efforts to get back in the game proved futile. Ebi Ere added 15, but no other Sooner cracked double digits. As a team, Oklahoma shot just 36 percent from the floor.

When the horn sounded, the hourglass had run out on a magical 31-win season for Oklahoma. Indiana advanced to face Maryland in the national title game, where the Terrapins claimed the crown.

Fourteen years after the Sooners came within a whisper of a national championship, they just couldn’t muster enough offense to make a return to the title game. It would be fourteen more years before Oklahoma would make another Final Four appearance.

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