Although Stanford won the National Invitation Tournament, the Cardinal had to share center stage with Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs.
Stanford, surviving a 15-0 Oklahoma run after Tubbs was ejected late in the first half Wednesday night, defeated the Sooners 78-72 behind senior Kenny Ammann's 22 points, including five of the Cardinal's seven 3-pointers.Afterwards, Tubbs blasted the three Big East officials who handled the game, sarcastically suggesting they should be required to take a drug test.
"This was one of the most disappointing things that's ever happened to me," Tubbs said of his two technicals that caused his ejection with 4:38 left in the first half. "I don't think I deserved either one of the technicals. I didn't use profanity and I did not holler. I deserved a better fate."
Tubbs, upset over a no-call when he believed Stanford's Adam Keefe was traveling, was whistled for one technical by referee Mickey Crowley, and the second a few seconds later by Pete Pavia.
Neither was available for comment on the first ejection of a coach in the NIT's 53-year history.
"The officials are becoming bigger than the game itself," Tubbs said. "You can control your players, but you have no control over what happens in the game."
The score was tied 26-26 before Stanford got nine points in nine seconds as a result of Tubbs' technicals. Andrew Vlahov hit two free throws for the foul call that stopped play just before Tubbs' ejection, John Patrick made the four technicals and Ammann made it 35-26 with a 3-pointer.
Then Oklahoma (20-15) scored the final 13 points of the first half and the first basket of the second and went on to take its biggest lead, 46-37, with 17:50 left.
Stanford (20-13) outscored Oklahoma 41-26 the rest of the way, including eight of 12 free throws in the final 1:15 to stay in front.
Ammann was 5-for-10 from 3-point range, while Vlahov had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Patrick scored 13 points and Deshon Wingate had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Keefe, Stanford's leading scorer at 21.8 per game, was held to 12 points, only two in the final 29 minutes. But he was the tournament's Most Valuable Player after scoring 24 points against Massachusetts in the semifinals.
"We won this game and this tournament because we came together as a unit," Keefe said. "People have said this wasn't much of a team and that we just have one player. But the way the scoring was spread out proves that's not true."
Brent Price scored 26 points and Bryan Sallier had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma. But the rest of the team scored only 22 points. That was a turnaround from the Sooners' semifinal victory that saw Price score eight points and Sallier none.
"Sallier and Price were unbelievable in the first half with 17 points each and scoring 34 of their 39 points," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "But the first half was uncharacteristic of the way we'd played in the tournament. We played so much better basketball in the NIT than in January and February.
"The 13-0 run at the end of the half was a confidence shaker, but I told them at halftime not to get outhustled."
Ammann scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half and Wingate had 12 of his 13 after halftime as the Oklahoma defense packed inside to stop Keefe.
"Oklahoma did a good job of keeping us from throwing it inside to Adam, but that allowed us to shoot from outside," Ammann said. "John (Patrick) and I love zones. If your're patient, you can score on it."
Keefe scored 10 points in the first 9:08 of the game, but Sallier scored 15 of his 17 first-half points in the first 15 minutes to pull Oklahoma - which trailed by seven points earlier - into the 26-26 tie that preceded Tubbs' technicals.
Joining Keefe on the all-tournament team were Ammann, Vlahov, Sallier, Vandiver and Massachusetts' Jim McCoy.