By HOWIE RUMBERG
NEW YORK — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger was pretty impressed by his young Sooners during a frantic finish Friday night. Still, he knows a win like this might not happen again.
Buddy Hield made two free throws with 9.3 seconds to give Oklahoma the lead after a mad rally, and the Sooners beat Seton Hall 86-85 on Friday night in the first semifinal of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Trailing by six with less than a minute to play, Oklahoma (4-0) converted two steals on inbounds plays to rally for a chance to play the winner of No.1 Michigan State-Virginia Tech in the final on Saturday night.
"That was a wild finish for sure," Kruger said. "Down the stretch we were fortunate to get a couple of bounces that doesn't happen very often. ... They kept battling and something good happened there late, and finished it off."
Oklahoma's Isaiah Cousins, a local star from Mount Vernon who had 19 points, hit a basket to make it 84-79 with 51 seconds left. Seton Hall's Sterling Gibbs then made one of two free throws — missing his first of 15 attempts in the second half. Gibbs led all scorers with 26 points.
"At that point it's kind of risk everything to get a steal," Kruger said.
And the Sooners did.
Cameron Clark followed with a layup, then after a timeout, he stole the inbounds pass and made another layin.
Jordan Woodward followed with another takeaway and was fouled. He converted 1 of 2 free throws to make it a one-point game with 21 seconds left.
After Clark missed a layup and Seton Hall (3-2) failed to control the rebound, and Hield ended up with the ball and was fouled. He made both free throws to give the Sooners their first lead since 17:59 in the second half.
Brian Oliver, who had 19 points, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Oklahoma the win in the in the first meeting between the teams since P.J. Carlesimo's Pirates and Billy Tubbs' Sooners split a pair of games in 1990-91.
Seton Hall had used a 22-8 run to open a 63-52 lead after trailing 44-41 at halftime. But things fell apart after that.
"We got a little bit out of whack and just didn't take care of the ball," Seton Hall coach Pirates coach Kevin Willard said.
Clark led the Sooners with 20 points. Hield had 13 and Woodward scored 12. Ryan Spangler had 10 rebounds and 12 points for Oklahoma, a club with only two seniors returning from the team that reached the NCAA tournament last year.
Seton Hall's Patrik Auda reinjured the foot that cost him nearly all of last season and will have a CT scan to assess the severity of the damage. He scored two points in just 10 minutes.
"If he bent a screw the (in his foot) then it's a major issue," Willard said. "If not, then out maybe a month, maybe more."
Willard said Auda did not break a bone.
Oliver made 5 of 13 3-pointers for Seton Hall, but made only one in the second half. Eugene Teague had 10 points and nine rebounds. Gibbs, Seton Hall's leading scorer, had just seven points in the first half, but made 17 of 20 free throws overall in leading Seton Hall in a second-half surge.
Oklahoma was playing its first game since beating Idaho on Nov. 13 but it was Seton Hall that struggled to keep up early. The Pirates fumbled away several opportunities under the basket and missed easy layups. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's Cousins scored nine of the Sooners first 11 points and Oklahoma opened a 27-18 lead with 8:57 to go in the half.
"It just felt good to be home," said Cousins, who was 3 for 3 on 3-pointers, "Being back home I had to be on top of my game."
He was in his best game this year. He made 7 of 8 shots, converting a four-point play with 3:13 to go to pull Oklahoma within four.
But Oliver then made three of his four first-half 3-pointers during Seton Hall's 15-5 run to take a 33-32 lead with 3:46 left in the half. Oliver traded 3s with Frank Booker before Tyler Neal made two late shots to give Oklahoma a 44-41 lead at the half.