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NCAA Tournament 2021: Sooners defeat Missouri, 72-68, in first round of March Madness without De'Vion Harmon

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Brady Manek

Senior forward Brady Manek during the season finale against No. 15 Texas on March 4.

No. 8 seed Oklahoma (16-10, 9-8 Big 12) defeated No. 9 seed Missouri (16-10, 8-8 SEC), 72-68, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night in Indianapolis. 

Senior guard Austin Reaves and senior forward Brady Manek led the way for the Sooners with 23 points and 19 points, respectively. Junior guard Elijah Harkless added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

OU shot 42.6 percent from the field and made seven 3s. Oklahoma was down 27-26 at halftime, but started the second half with a 12-2 run. However, Missouri's 12-2 run with under 16 minutes left in the second half gave it the lead with 12:24 remaining. The Tigers shot 38.6 percent from the field and made 11 3s.

Sophomore guard De'Vion Harmon was out due to COVID-19 protocols and sophomore forward Jalen Hill had four points and four rebounds starting in his place. In Harmon's absence, sophomore forward Victor Iwuakor had two blocks and played 18 minutes, the most minutes he's played since Feb. 1.

The Sooners were up 69-61 with just over a minute remaining, but Missouri guard Dru Smith hit back-to-back 3s in crunch time to cut OU's lead to three points. Later, Harkless intentionally fouled Missouri guard Drew Buggs to force the Tigers to intentionally miss a free-throw.

Oklahoma's offense had six turnovers, and its defense had four blocks and five steals. The Sooners play the winner of No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga and No. 16 seed Norfolk State in the second round on Monday, March 22.

Austin Curtright is a journalism sophomore and The Daily's senior sports reporter. He currently covers OU men's basketball and has previously covered OU softball and soccer.

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