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Paulding, Johnson lead Mizzou's upset

2/25/2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson picked
the right time to live up the preseason hype.

Paulding, a preseason all-American, scored 31 points Tuesday and
Johnson had 29, including a pair of free throws with 30.3 seconds
left in the second overtime to give Missouri a 93-92 win over
sixth-ranked Oklahoma State. The two seniors have suffered through
up-and-down seasons but have played significant roles in the
Tigers' late-season surge.

Paulding flung the ball into the stands and hundreds of fans
stormed the court to celebrate when a last-second jumper by
Oklahoma State's John Lucas bounced off the rim, giving the Tigers
(14-10, 8-5 Big 12) their fifth straight win and putting them back
in contention for an NCAA tournament berth.

The loss ended an 11-game winning streak for Oklahoma State
(21-3, 11-2) and dropped the Cowboys into a first-place Big 12 tie
with Texas.

"I think the seniors stepped up," Oklahoma State coach Eddie
Sutton said of Missouri. "All of a sudden they looked around and
said, 'God, this is going to be over and we're not going to go to
the big dance.' And now I think they're in a position where they
can go."

Missouri led for most of the game and seemed headed for a
relatively easy win after consecutive 3-pointers by Paulding put
the Tigers up 71-62 with 4:52 to play.

But Oklahoma State went to a full-court press for the rest of
regulation that baffled the Tigers, forcing five straight missed
shots. The Cowboys went on an 11-2 run that sent the game into
overtime.

Missouri's Thomas Gardner made an off-balance 3-pointer with 24
seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game and force the
second overtime.

In the second overtime, the lead changed hands six times, the
last when Johnson hit both free throws after he was fouled by Tony
Allen, who had 24 points.

After an Oklahoma State timeout with 25 seconds left, Lucas
dribbled away the clock before attempting a last-second 3-pointer
that bounced high off the back of the rim.

"We were playing for the last shot," said Lucas, who led
Oklahoma State with 30 points. "We were going for the win or we
were going for the loss."

Missouri improved to 2-5 against ranked teams. Five of the
Tigers' losses have been in overtime or by four points or less.

"We've lost this game a couple of times, but we didn't stop
playing," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said.

After dropping to 9-10 following a loss at Nebraska on Feb. 7,
the Tigers have begun to play like they were expected to when
picked as the nation's No. 4 team in the preseason.

Missouri seemed a long shot for even an NIT bid before its
recent surge. The Tigers have three regular-season games remaining,
including two against ranked teams -- at No. 25 Texas Tech on March
3 and at home against No. 20 Kansas on March 7.

Paulding is averaging 15.2 points, but was shooting just 38.8
percent from the field. Against Oklahoma State, he was 9-17,
including 5-6 from 3-point range. Johnson was 10-23 but scored five
of Missouri's 11 points in the second overtime. He also had 13
rebounds.

"I'm proud of A.J.," Paulding said. "He stepped up and hit
some big shots, hit some big free throws. He was definitely our
emotional leader."

Missouri led by as many as 13 points in the first half and was
up 50-39 at the break.

Both teams came out running, but the Tigers were hot, hitting 18
of 32 first-half shots (56 percent). Missouri began the game with a
9-3 run, but Oklahoma State went ahead 21-20 with 12:35 to go in
the first half when Jason Miller tipped in a missed shot. The
Cowboys wouldn't lead again until overtime.

Missouri dominated the final 12 minutes of the first half, going
on a 25-11 run to go ahead 45-32 after Johnson blocked a shot at
one end and Paulding made a 3-pointer at the other with 2:17 to go.

Lucas hit a desperation, falling-down 3-pointer as the shot
clock expired to cut the lead to 47-39 with 20 seconds to go in the
half. But Paulding responded with a 3-pointer just before the
buzzer.